Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Blessing of Song

I was so sad to hear the news about the passing of Debbie Friedman, who revolutionized Jewish music. I can’t hear her songs without thinking back fondly on my days in NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth). Her melodies were a big part of the soundtrack of my high school years. In a way, I credit her music as helping me stay engaged in Jewish life after my bat mitzvah, a time when so many of my peers dropped out of Hebrew school. When I first went to a youth group event and heard the contemporary melodies, I felt at home. Judaism wasn’t a religion about old men. She reached out to us and made Judaism very relevant, accessible, and beautiful. Now many years later, her music is not just sung by teenagers. You can go into many synagogues and hear it and feel its power to connect congregants to each other and to the ancient texts. May her memory be a blessing.

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