Jan 9, 2011

JTA: Remembering Debbie Friedman, Praying for Gabrielle Giffords

JTA News Alert/Message From JTA Editor in Chief Ami Eden

January 9, 2010

Dear JTA Reader:

It has been a tragic weekend for Jews and all Americans. As you probably already are aware, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) is fighting for her life after being shot by a gunman during an open meeting with constituents. We will update you shortly on that ongoing story.

First, however, we regret to inform you about the passing of Debbie Friedman, a pioneer in Jewish music, who by many accounts did more than anyone to revolutionize worship within the Reform movement and many Conservative synagogues as well. To gain a deeper appreciation of Friedman's impact on the Jewish world, read our own Sue Fishkoff's article from 2007 on her appointment to the faculty of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Sue mentions the popularity of Friedman's version of the "Mi Shebeirach" healing prayer, which is sung now at countless synagogues and Jewish gatherings.

As Sue put it: "When the diminutive Friedman takes up her guitar in front of 1,000 people, tilts her face skyward and lets that rich, yearning voice pour out, the tears often flow." It is hard to think of a better way to pay tribute to Friedman on the day of her passing than to use her rendition (or a more traditional one, if that's your inclination) to pray for Congresswoman Giffords.


Ami Eden
Editor in Chief, JTA