The Boiling Point

Debbie Friedman’s music lives on

Tamar Willis, Staff Writer

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Though her name might not be familiar, her tunes and songs are. Debbie Friedman, the renowned Jewish American composer, singer and recording artist, passed away Jan. 9, and students began learning who she was.

Best known for setting Jewish prayers and teachings to contemporary folk-style music accompanied by guitar, Ms. Friedman’s music is loved by many. Conservative, Reform and some Orthodox congregations use her settings as liturgical music.

“I’ve sung along to tunes she’d written almost all my life in school and at synagogue, but I did not know she wrote them,” said freshman Liat Bainvoll.    Some of her most famous songs include “The Aleph Bet Song” (“Aleph, bet, vet, gimmel dalet hey…”) and the Hanukkah song “Not By Might.”  She also wrote the well known tunes for “Mi Sheberach” and “Oseh Shalom.”  Ms. Friedman composed both upbeat songs, such as

‘Miriam’s Song,” about women dancing on the shores of the Red Sea, as well as songs with slower melodies, like her famous “Lechi Lach.”

News reports said Ms. Friedman had been struggling with various health issues since the 1990’s, and in early January was admitted to a hospital in Orange County, where she lived, for treatment of pneumonia.  It was there that she passed away.

Her funeral, which was open to the public, was held two days later at Temple Beth Shalom in Santa Ana.

Shalhevet’s Director of Development, Stuart Rogoff, knew Debbie personally after working with her and organizing some concerts in the 1980s.

“She was an extremely passionate person,” Mr. Rogoff said. “She was extremely talented and very dedicated, and though she faced a lot of health challenges, she kept performing, and writing new music. She just cared about ruach (spirit), genuine ruach. She was a one-of-a-kind.”

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Meet the Writer
Tamar Willis, Editor-In-Chief Emeritus

Tamar Willis is a junior at Princeton University where she writes and serves as business manager for the culture magazine Nassau Weekly.

She joined the Boiling Point staff in ninth grade and served as Staff Writer, Features Editor, Outside News Editor and Sports Editor, winning national awards in feature writing from Quill and Scroll, the American Jewish Press Association and the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.  In high school, English and US History were her favorite subjects, and she loved to read and write, especially for the Boiling Point!

Tamar says that if she were a punctuation mark, she would be an Oxford comma or an exclamation point.  Tamar could eat sushi for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and she thinks Clueless is one of the best movies ever made.

Tamar was Deputy Editor and then Editor-in-Chief of the Boiling Point in 2013-14 school year, leading the paper to its second CSPA Gold Crown Award the following spring....

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Debbie Friedman’s music lives on