The Taube Family Campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Jerusalem hosted an evening in memory of Debbie Friedman, z"l. A beloved member of our faculty from 2007 through her passing in 2011, Debbie inspired our students through her creativity and musical talents, helped guide their spiritual and leadership development, and provided them with innovative strategies to transform congregations into communities of learning and meaning. Our students were blessed by her devotion, and our faculty was enriched by her gifts and talents. In 2011, the School of Sacred Music was renamed the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music in her memory.
Our annual concert in Jerusalem held in Debbie's memory, "Melave HaMalka," was directed by Cantor Tamar Havilio, Cantor of the Taube Family Campus, and organized by HUC-JIR's National Office of Recruitment and Admissions. Cantor Havilio prepared a choir of cantorial, rabbinical, and Jewish education students from the Year-In-Israel Program. Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean of the Taube Family Campus, welcomed the crowd of over 300 guests, including participants on the Union for Reform Judaism's EIE Heller High School Program and members of the Shnat Netzer post-high-school program for British, Australian, and South African teens. The World Union for Progressive Judaism, who helped host the event, brought their lay-leadership seminar, the Beutel Seminar, to join the hundreds of Jerusalemites and tourists who came to take part in this special evening of song and prayer. During the concert, Rabbi Danny Freelander, President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism and an alumnus of HUC-JIR, addressed the crowd, telling tales of Debbie and her unique song-leading style. Rabbi Haim Shalom, National Office of Recruitment and Admissions at HUC-JIR, closed the evening, thanking the community for their warm participation and urging all present to carry on Debbie's mission of healing and leadership through keeping our spirits high, for as she sang, "Not by Might, and not by Power, but by Spirit alone, shall we all live in peace."
About the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music: HUC-JIR established the School of Sacred Music in 1948. Created at a time when the Holocaust threatened the continuity of Jewish heritage, the School of Sacred Music is a vibrant center dedicated to preserving, enhancing, and creating Jewish music. Originally conceived as an institution training cantors for the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Movements, our curriculum still reflects non-denominational origins. Our faculty teaches the full range of cantorial styles, from traditional through contemporary music. As the cantorial profession has evolved, cantors have taken on the full range of clergy responsibilities with their rabbinic partners, and in turn, our curriculum is adapting to ready our students for this changing cantorate of the 21st century.