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Remembering Debbie

I returned home after directing Schmooze 11: IJPA Jewish Jewish Culture Conference.

Back in 1974 Debbie Friedman(z”l) came to St. Louis and gave a concert at our synagogue. I was transfixed by how she was able to bring together this community out of its isolation, teaching us how to sing. She was a courageous performer who modeled being unselfconsciously Jewish, engaged and emotional. She had a generosity of spirit, of heart and of love. It was a central reason why I got involved in presenting Jewish culture. When I look for a performer, I want someone who can do more then just sing.

Year’s later, my wife co-led the Ma’yan Women’s Seder along with the Ma’yan staff, Debbie Friedman and her band in New York, where 500 Jewish women of all ages, shapes and sizes, none of whom were cooking, danced, sang and celebrated the joy of sisterhood. I was there with my daughters on my shoulders. Later that year, when we were preparing the house for seder, my three-year old asked where the band was, expecting Debbie to arrive.

Thank you Debbie, for giving us the gift of yourself. May your memory be for a blessing.

I also wanted to share with you words that Moishe Rosenfield prepared for a memorial program we had had during our conference this week at City Winery. If you’ve have been to concert with a Jewish musician in North America over the past 25 years, there’s a good chance that Moishe was involved in producing it.

Later this week Shalom TV, will have a special on Debbie Friedman, including our memorial service, featuring Saxophonist Paul Shapiro, Poet Esther Ann, Singers David Broza and Neshama Carlebach, in addition to Moishe Rosenfield.

We’ll be updating photos from Schmooze on the right , but here’s the first batch from the first day.