Posted by Susan Freudenheim
Years ago, as I was making my way back into Judaism after a lapse, I would go to synagogue on Shabbat and find myself waiting especially for certain moments in the services. I later came to know that those special moments all were linked to haunting tunes written by Debbie Friedman. Her version of the Mi Shebearach prayer, her “Shalom Rav” and once yearly especially: “L’chi La,”—“And you Shall be a Blessing.”
Debbie Friedmen lives on in our ears and in our minds, and she will always be heard through our voices, which rise for her especially today. I especially wanted to share the statement below, because I was one of those who learned from her to sing again.
A just released statement on Debbie Friedman from the Union of Reform Judaism:
The Union for Reform Judaism mourns passing of our teacher Debbie Friedman, z"l.
Debbie influenced and enriched contemporary Jewish music, and Jewish life, in a profound way. Her music crossed generational and denominational lines and carved a powerful legacy of authentic Jewish spirituality into our daily lives.
Responding to news of her death, URJ President Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie said, “Debbie Friedman was an extraordinary treasure of our Movement, and one of its most influential voices. Twenty-five years ago, North American Jews had forgotten how to sing. Debbie reminded us how to sing, she taught us how to sing. She gave us the vehicles that enabled us to sing. What happens in the synagogues of Reform Judaism today—the voices of song—are in large measure due to the insight, brilliance and influence of Debbie Friedman.” “By creating a whole new genre of Jewish music, Debbie was able to reintroduce authentic Jewish spirituality,” said Rabbi Daniel Freelander, vice president of the Union for Reform Judaism and a long-time friend and fellow songwriter. “She wrote melodies that spoke to us, spoke to our intellect, spoke to our emotions.”
“Debbie’s influence reached every corner of our Movement, and of the American Jewish community,” noted Freelander. “Her connection to, and with, Jewish camps was particularly powerful. Today’s rabbis, cantors and Jewish leaders were inspired by Debbie, so often quite personally. Although she faced great health challenges, Debbie was a constant presence in the lives of our camps, conferences, and congregations.”
In 2007, the Union for Reform Judaism honored Friedman with the first Alexander M. Schindler Award for Distinguished Leadership presented at an emotional tribute concert in at the URJ Biennial in San Diego.
While Debbie’s passing will be mourned by millions of followers, her music will fill the hearts of Jews for generations to come. May Debbie’s memory be for a blessing and may her family and friends be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Funeral services, open to the public, will be held Tuesday, Jan. 11 at 11 a.m. at Temple Beth Sholom, 2625 N. Tustin Ave. Santa Ana, CA 92705. Phone: 714-628-4600
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January 9, 2011 | 11:26 am
Posted by JewishJournal.com
[UPDATE] This story has been confirmed. Click here for the complete article.
Rabbi Paul Kipnes of Congregation Or Ami writes on his Twitter page:
I am saddened to inform you that Debbie Friedman died this morning at 5:49am PST. The family has asked for people to respect their time…
Friedman had been in critical condition and was being held on a respirator in a medically-induced coma in an Orange County, California hospital.
A healing service was scheduled for Sunday evening at the Manhattan JCC and was set to be viewed online. There is no word if the service will become a memorial tribute or not.
According to JTA, “Friedman, who was in her late 50s, is widely credited with reinvigorating synagogue music by introducing a more folksy, sing-along style to American congregations. In 2007 she was appointed to the faculty of the Reform movement’s cantorial school in a sign that her style had gained mainstream acceptance.”
Watch a video tribute to Debbie Friedman
January 7, 2011 | 2:52 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
Jewish folksinger/songwriter Debbie Friedman is in critical condition and is being held on a respirator in a medically-induced coma in an Orange County, California hospital. According to the Forward, her sister, Sheryl Friedman has said that as of January 7, the doctors’ efforts to open up her lungs have yet to succeed. Friedman has lived in Los Angeles for the past 15 years and is a faculty member of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
The Forward has the story:
A worldwide effort is underway to bring about healing for one of American Judaism’s most beloved composers of healing and other Jewish liturgy.
Debbie Friedman is the widely-known composer of Jewish songs, including “Mishebeirach,” “Sing Unto God” and “Lechi Lach,” which have become standard parts of synagogue and camp life in Judaism’s liberal denominations. Friedman, who has long suffered with ill health but been private about the underlying cause, has developed pneumonia and is on a respirator, in a medically-induced coma in an Orange County, California hospital. Her sister Sheryl Friedman reports that as of January 7, the doctors’ measures have not yet succeeded in opening up her lungs.
Close friends and colleagues are asking people worldwide to pray for her complete healing. In Manhattan, where Friedman lived for about 15 years until she moved to Los Angeles last spring, there will be a healing service at the JCC of Manhattan on Sunday at 8p.m. Those unable to attend can view it on-line here.
Information on a national prayer for healing for Debbie Friedman.
Debbie Friedman Performs ‘Mishebayrach’ Live at LimmudLA ‘08.
Watch a video tribute to Debbie Friedman below.
January 6, 2011 | 4:31 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
In the wake of Israel’s destructive Carmel forest fires last month, the battle over who’s to blame has intensified. Some Israelis have blamed their government for not being prepared, pointing fingers at Prime Minister Netanyahu and at Shas Interior Minister Eli Yishai. Now Shas representatives in the Knesset are turning on the late Haifa police chief Ahuva Tomer, who died as a result of burns from the fire. Tomer’s friends, family and key associates are calling accusations against Tomer “cynical and political.”
Haaretz has the story:
Associates of Interior Minister Eli Yishai said Thursday that deceased Haifa police chief Ahuva Tomer was the one responsible for the deaths of forty-four rescue service personnel in the Carmel fire.
“It’s hard to say it, but the one responsible for the Carmel fire disaster is Ahuva Tomer, not Eli Yishai,” senior officials in Shas were quoted as saying.
Yishai’s associates put the blame on Tomer, saying that she approved the passage of a bus, which carried prison service course cadets who came to aid in the fire rescue, through a road that ended up being encircled in flames.
Netanyahu and Yishai also recently drew some heavy criticism for their handling of the disaster.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai left the memorial soon after Danny Rosen, the partner of fallen Haifa Police Chief Ahuva Tomer, stood and told Netanyahu that he would not remain at the ceremony unless Yishai stepped out.
Some relatives have demanded that the state investigate Netanyahu, Yishai, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak in particular over negligence during the fire, saying the discussion regarding their conduct does not belong in court but rather in the public domain.
All this, as questions arise as to whether or not Israel was prepared for such a disaster.
The Chim-Nir aviation company, which handles much of Israel’s aerial firefighting, warned the finance and interior ministries over a year ago of a “critical shortage” of the chemicals needed to put out forest fires.
January 4, 2011 | 12:19 am
Posted by Tom Tugend
“When I had an idea for a movie, I never thought about making a ‘contribution’ to the cinema or of being a revolutionary,” said Paul Mazursky, sitting in his small, poster-filled office in Beverly Hills.
Cinephiles of a certain age and attitude beg to differ. So does the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, which will confer its Career Achievement Award on the veteran director, screenwriter and actor at its Jan. 15 dinner.
From the late 1960s to the early 1990s, Mazursky set the standard for his social satires, exploration of the nascent sexual revolution and creation of complex Jewish characters.
Among his memorable pictures were “Bob&Carol&Ted&Alice,” “Blume in Love,” “Harry and Tonto,” “Next Stop, Greenwich Village,” “An Unmarried Woman,” “Moscow on the Hudson,” “Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” and Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “Enemies, A Love Story.”
Brent Simon, president of the critics association, put it well, saying, “ It is impossible to imagine American independent cinema in its current form without Paul Mazursky, in all his multi-hyphenate glory. Mazursky is a great figure in world cinema as well as an American original.”
At 80, the self-described “wise guy from Brooklyn” and “optimistic cynic” has lost none of his acerbic wit nor his penchant for telling endless jokes, some even printable.
But a new corporate Hollywood and a new generation of movie goers seem to have lost their taste and understanding for Mazursky’s sly wit, iconoclastic world view and wry take on the human condition.
“I have five scripts in my desk drawer, but no one is willing to finance them,” said the man who has garnered four Oscar nominations for his screenplays and one as producer.
But Hollywood’s neglect, plus a quadruple heart bypass operation, has not idled Mazursky, to the benefit of his Jewish fans.
Four years ago, the outspoken atheist created and self-financed a funny and warm film, “Yipee: A Journey to Jewish Joy,” tracking a pilgrimage to the Ukraine of some 25,000 ecstatic Chassidim to the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav.
Returning to his roots as an actor, he appeared frequently in episodes of the TV shows “The Sopranos” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” He has also lent his talents to the West Coast Jewish Theatre to direct “The Catskill Sonata” and “Adam Baum and the Jew Movie.”
Understandably, Mazursky casts a somewhat jaundiced eye on the current movie scene.
“Hollywood still makes some good movies, like ‘Fair Game,’ but the values are different,” he said. “Sure, the old movie moguls like Mayer and Goldwyn wanted to make money, but they also wanted to produce something classy, or, like the Warner Brothers, something socially relevant.
“The days when the Jews ran Hollywood are over. Today, the likes of Sony and [Rupert] Murdoch own the studios, and they’re just in it for the money.”
As for his outlook as a Jew, Mazursky said, “I feel Jewish as a secular Jew, I feel emotional about it and I love the culture. I get angry when anyone says a bad thing about Jews.”
In a previous interview, this reporter asked Mazursky about his philosophy of filmmaking.
“All my films have been shaped by how I feel about life, for better or for worse,” he said. “I think life is a cosmic joke. I believe in the power of love, I think it cures, and the older I get the less sure I am that I know what I know. I always derive an enormous amount of pleasure from the things that humans do that are surprising and touching and sometimes a little crazy.”