Debbie Friedman Joins Faculty HUC-JIR

Monday, June 4, 2007

Debbie Friedman, world-renowned folk songwriter and performer, has been appointed Instructor in Music at the School of Sacred Music of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, as of July 1, 2007. 

"Debbie Friedman will inspire our students through her creativity and musical talents, help guide their spiritual and leadership development, and provide them with innovative strategies to transform congregations into communities of learning and meaning," says Rabbi David Ellenson, President, HUC-JIR. During the Fall 2007 semester, Debbie Friedman will teach "Music as Midrash," a course for rabbinical, cantorial, and education students exploring the spiritual core of Jewish texts as a source for songs, sermons, and study, at the HUC-JIR New York campus. As an artist-in-residence, she will coach cantorial students and participate in services and other areas of the School of Sacred Music curriculum. 

"It was kol isha (the voice of women) for col isha (every woman) that inspired me to write inclusive music," says Debbie Friedman. "It is beneficial not only for women, but for men and children as well. Singing helps us learn how to be vocal. The more our voices are heard in song, the more we become our lyrics, our prayers, and our convictions." 

Friedman's lyrical interpretations of liturgy and biblical verse have reached a generation of Jews looking to connect to the words of their heritage through music. A singer, songwriter, and guitarist, she has recorded 19 albums, including many songs which have become so much a part of many synagogue's liturgy as to be considered "traditional." 

In 1996 Friedman celebrated the 25th anniversary of her musical career with a concert at Carnegie Hall. She has performed in hundreds of cities in the United States, Canada, Europe and Israel. She has appeared before national conventions and conferences for major Jewish organizations, including the General Assembly of Jewish Federations, Hadassah, Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbinical Assembly, Cantors Assembly, Wexner Heritage Foundation, Whizin Institute, National Association of Temple Educators, National Association of Temple Administrators, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Women of Reform Judaism, World Union for Progressive Judaism, World Jewish Congress, American Jewish Congress, American Jewish Committee, National Federation of Temple Youth, and United Synagogue Youth. 

She served as cantorial soloist for three years at the New Reform Congregation in Los Angeles, California. As a music educator, she directed the music component of the intensive Hebrew Chalutzim program at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, where she continues to co-lead Hava Nashira, the annual song leading and music workshop she created. She has served on the faculty of the Jewish Perspectives on Care at the End of Life Symposium at Duke University Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina; the Summer Institute for Jewish Educators, co-sponsored by the University of Judaism and the Whizin Institute in Los Angeles; HUC-JIR's Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health; the Academy for Jewish Religion in New York; the Elat Chayyim Jewish Spiritual Retreat; the Brandeis Bardin Institute in Brandeis, California; and the Union for Reform Judaism's summer Kallah programs held at Brandeis University, the University of California at Santa Cruz, and Franklin Pierce College. 

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.