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Debbie Friedman played Carnegie Hall

January 7, 1996
Debbie Friedman
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This image is the album cover of the milestone recording of Debbie Friedman's sold out concert at Carnegie Hall on January 7, 1996.

On January 7, 1996, Debbie Friedman gave a sold out concert at Carnegie Hall, commemorating twenty-five years as one of the Jewish community's most well-known and influential contemporary musicians. Known for her folky and "singer-friendly" style, Friedman recorded over twenty albums that sold over 200,000 copies.

Friedman began recording on her own label in 1972, appealing largely to Reform Jews and those interested in Jewish Renewal. Now, her music is sung in synagogues across the United States and has become so widespread that, in many places, it is thought of as "traditional." Since its release in 1993, her "Mi Sheberach" prayer (for healing) has become the fastest adopted liturgical melody in both the Reform and Conservative movements.

The 1999 release of Friedman's English-language album, "It's You," marked the singer/songwriter's first effort to reach a broader, not-necessarily-Jewish audience. That same year, Hallmark began releasing a series of Jewish holiday cards featuring Friedman's lyrics. A committed Jewish feminist, Friedman also composed all the music for the tremendously popular Ma'yan Women's Seder. She was famous for her inspiring live concerts, performing and teaching in communities, synagogues, schools and Federations throughout Europe, Israel, Canada, and the U.S.

In 2006 a movie was made about Friedman by producer Ann Coppel entitled "A Journey of Spirit." In 2007, Friedman accepted an appointment to the faculty of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's School of Sacred Music in New York where she instructed both rabbinic and cantorial students. Debbie Friedman died on January 9, 2011.

To learn more about Debbie Friedman, visit Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution.

See also: Jewish Feminism in the United States; Jewish Women and Jewish Music in America; Ritual: A Feminist Approach.

On JWA's blog, Jewesses with Attitude: Arise, Arise: A New Wave of Jewish Women Musicians; Debbie Friedman: in our thoughts; By Spirit Alone: Remembering Debbie Friedman.

Sources: Billboard Magazine, March 1, 1997, March 6, 1999, July 24, 1999; Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Debbie Friedman played Carnegie Hall." (Viewed on April 18, 2014) <http://jwa.org/thisweek/jan/07/1996/debbie-friedman>.