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Debbie Friedman

Debbie FriedmanDEBBIE FRIEDMAN (1951 – 2011) was born in Utica, New York, and moved to Minnesota at age 6. She began writing in the early 1970s and was influenced by American popular musicians of the ’60s and ’70s, including Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez and Judy Collins. She wrote many of her early songs while she was a songleader for the Northern Federation of Temple Youth (NoFTY), Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI) in Wisconsin, and other youth organizations and camps around the country.

In the 1980s, she served as soloist for three years at the New Reform Congregation in Los Angeles. During the course of her career, she also directed music and singing programs and performed for most major Jewish organizations, including the General Assembly of Jewish Federations, Hadassah, the Union for Reform Judaism, the American Conference of Cantors, the Wexner Heritage Foundation, Women of Reform Judaism, the World Jewish Congress and the National Federation of Temple Youth.

In 1996 she was awarded the prestigious Covenant Foundation Award, and in 2002 she received the National Foundation for Jewish Culture-Jewish Cultural Achievement Award in Performing Arts. In 2007, she fulfilled a lifelong dream to teach in a formal setting through an appointment to the faculty of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s School of Sacred Music in New York and at HUC-JIR Los Angeles. In December 2011, the School of Sacred Music was renamed The Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music.

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