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One Thousand Join Reform Movement to Celebrate Debbie Friedman’s Legacy

Cantor Tamara Wolfson, Cantor Sarah Grabiner, Student Cantor Rachel Weston, Cantor Zoe Jacobs and Leo Nicholson perform at the tribute to Debbie Friedman

A celebration of the music and legacy of Jewish musician Debbie Friedman hosted by Reform Judaism was attended by over one thousand people on Zoom, with thousands more watching on Facebook. The event, ‘Another Song Will Rise’, took place on Saturday 6th February marking Debbie’s 10th Yahrzeit.

Cantors from the British Reform movement were joined by an international cast of world-leading Jewish musicians, including teachers from the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music and the American Union for Reform Judaism’s director of worship and music. Also in attendance was Debbie’s sister Cheryl Friedman, who was moved to tears when speaking at the event.

Debbie Friedman’s final performance was at Limmud in the United Kingdom in December 2010. Cheryl Friedman talked about her sister’s enjoyment of this event and stated that she held a “special place” for Limmud and the British Jewish community in her heart. Cheryl also read an unpublished piece of writing by Debbie Friedman exploring the singer’s relationship to the Torah.

The event began with Havdallah, using Debbie’s ubiquitous tune. Guests were treated to performances including favourites ‘Not By Might’, ‘And the Youth Shall See Visions’ and a mash-up of popular Cheder Tunes ‘I Am a Latke’, ‘Plant a Tree for Tu B’Shvat’ and the Alef Bet Song.

Cantor Zoe Jacobs, music adviser to Reform Judaism, commented, “The music of Debbie Friedman is such an integral part of the Reform liturgical canon these days, that it’s hard to imagine how we would teach the alef bet, or pray for healing without Debbie’s music. To spend the time remembering Debbie by doing what she taught us to do – sing together – felt so important. Joining on Zoom with a thousand people from all around the UK and the Progressive world really reminded us that even in times of isolation, we are better together.

While the evening was, of course, tinged with the sadness that we were marking Debbie’s tenth yahrzeit, it also made clear the joy of her legacy for people of all ages. There was a lot of talk about when the next Reform movement ‘Shirei Chagigah’ conference would be, and this certainly helped us look forward to the time we can all come together again and make music!”

You can watch the recording of the event below:

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