Debbie Friedman/Arizona


I've been listening to right-wing talk shows in order to see what the hosts and listeners are thinking about the Arizona murders. There was Savage Nation and a sub for Hugh Hewitt and then Michael Gallagher. L was listening with me last night and hooting because he said they sounded desperate. I don't think so. I heard:
-liberals want the race of a suspect made public only if it's a white male; they didn't want it known that the Fort Hood suspect was a Muslim
-liberals are trying to make a case that the suspect (my word: they assume he's guilty, as did NPR in a broadcast yesterday that assumed he was the killer; I mean we know he was but he's innocent before proven guilty) was influenced by the right, especially Palin, and all the political vitriol, and this was clearly a crazy man acting alone

The worst thing about these people is that they keep calling certain people leftists and Communists who I think are centrist. Their listeners will start to believe it.

In the middle of all this came Debbie Friedman's sudden death on Sunday. She was a Jewish folk singer but that's like saying that Bob Dylan was an American folk singer. She was more. She composed a healing prayer, Mi Shebeirach, which is quite lovely and I've enjoyed (if I can say that) singing it with others in mind at services, and knowing that people sang it for me when I had breast cancer. Friedman arranged the song and composed the music and I keep wanting to say revolutionized prayer but I'm sure that's an overstatement, and I'm not one to comment since I'm not a frequent attender. She was quoted in interviews as saying that services were so boring when she was growing up and she wanted to make prayer user friendly. She added grace, beauty and meaning. The cause of death is complications from pneumonia. It took a couple of days to establish her age at 59.
When I was studying in rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary in the late ’90s, it was not a very spiritual place, Rabbi Jason Miller of Michigan told the Jerusalem Post. He said that Friedman came to the Conservative (the centrist branch of Judaism) seminary in New York to lead a healing service at the end of a day-long conference.

Her energy electrified the Seminary’s synagogue where students, faculty and guests were singing and dancing – I remember thinking that if I could bottle up her ruah [spiritual energy] and sell it to congregations, I’d be a billionaire, Miller added.
Friedman’s music, Miller said, adds so much life and feeling to our liturgy.

Mi Shebeirach was performed Sunday at a healing service at Congregation Chaverim in Tucson, where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is a member. More than 200 people packed the sanctuary.

4 comments:

Susan Messer said...

This is good, Sandi. Good bringing-together of various threads. Useful synthesis of multiple voices. I feel more clarity about it all after reading your post. I too felt a connection between Tucson and Friedman's death. Thanks for doing this.

jessica said...

I hadn't made the connection between Debbie Friedman's death and the - of course- singing of Mi Sheberach at Gabrielle Giffords' synagogue.

Friedman's arrangement has always been a little too "summer camp" for me, but then again, that's why I, and so many other Jews, know it.

And can sing it for people like Rep. Giffords.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the add, I look forward to learning a lot here.

Cancer Bitch said...

Thanks, Susan and Jessica. I went to a summer camp that was Jewish (but never mentioned it) and we sang Michael Row Your Boat Ashore and There Were 3 Jolly Fishermen.