Debbie Friedman plays Carnegie Hall
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.
Sources: Billboard Magazine, March 1, 1997, March 6, 1999, July 24, 1999.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Debbie Friedman plays Carnegie Hall." (Viewed on June 4, 2023) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/jan/07/1996/debbie-friedman>.
I had the honor of being the ASL interpreter at that momentous concert. It was quite an experience and one that I will never forget.
Please pray for Debbie Friedman as she is in the hospital in critical condition. Her Hebrew name is Devorah bat Fraydl.
Mi shebeirach avoteinu M'kor habracha l'imoteinu
May the source of strength who blessed the ones before us, Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing And let us say: Amen.
Mi shebeirach imoteinu M'kor habracha l'avoteinu
Bless those in need of healing with refuah sh'leimah The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit And let us say: Amen.