The New York campus of HUC-JIR hosted a kumsitz (sing along) in observance of Debbie Friedman’s second yahrzeit on January 24, 2013. Students, faculty, alumni, and friends joined together to sing Debbie’s music in celebration of her life. Musicians who participated in the kumsitz include Cantor Jill Abramson, Merri Lovinger Arian, Ivan Barenboim, Michelle Citrin, Cantor Ellen Dreskin, Rabbi Danny Freelander, Shira Kline, Benny Koonyevsky, Josh Nelson, Joyce Rosenzweig, Cantor Bruce Ruben, Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller, and Peri Smilow.
Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Dean, HUC-JIR/New York, stated, "The kumsitz was a beautiful and uplifting way to honor Debbie's memory. The evening felt magical, with Debbie's music filling the Chapel, and her spirit filling our hearts. We remain so blessed by the many gifts she gave each of us, as musician, composer, teacher, and friend. The musicians were extraordinary, and we're all grateful to Merri Lovinger Arian for her vision and skill creating this wonderful evening, together with her colleagues in the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music who gave generously, too, of their time and effort. Missing only was our beloved Debbie - how I wish she were still with us."
Cantor Bruce Ruben, Director, Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, explained, "The DFSSM faculty wanted the kumsitz to reflect Debbie’s spirit and values. Merri’s vision of a sing-along rather than a performance was perfect. Debbie would have loved the evening."
Merri Lovinger Arian, Liturgical Arts Consultant and member of the faculty of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, coordinated the kumsitz. She noted, "It was an honor to be a part of this evening. Together, we lifted our voices and filled the chapel with Debbie's music - the legacy that Debbie left us all - in the style that Debbie taught us all!"
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 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. www.huc.edu