The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Debbie Friedman

February 23, 1951–January 9, 2011

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Debbie Friedman until we are able to commission a full entry.

Singer, songwriter, composer, professor, and educator, Debbie Friedman (1951–2011).

Debbie Friedman’s music transformed prayers for Jews across the movements. Growing up, Friedman often felt disconnected from synagogue prayers, and began using her gifts as a singer and songwriter to blend traditional prayers and biblical passages with English translations and moving folk music to bridge that gap. She wrote many of her early songs while working as a song leader for various Jewish youth camps around the country. Her prayer for healing is used in hundreds of congregations around the country, and many of her songs have become so well known that they are considered “traditional.” Friedman served as cantor at the New Reform Congregation in Los Angeles and directed the music program and annual music workshop at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin throughout her career. 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; the school was renamed in her honor after her death.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Debbie Friedman." (Viewed on September 18, 2021) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/friedman-debbie>.

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