Her Final Song . . . in memoriam for Debbie Friedman

I woke up hopeful.  I had dreamed I would find a notice posted on my Facebook “A Plea becomes a Movement” event page that would tell us that Debbie Friedman, the Jewish musical icon that had inspired multiple generations, had woken from her coma.  Wouldn’t it be a miracle?  The mere thought that the world might once again hear the voice of Debbie Friedman and be gifted with more music brought tears to my eyes.

But instead tears fell for a different reason.  Succinct and somber the post that nobody wanted to see appeared letting the world know that the beloved singer/songwriter had passed at 6:59 am PST – twelve hours after thousands had joined all over the world -One Voice singing one song – her song for healing.

How could all of this had happened so quickly?  As a modern day healer, clergy, Jewish music professional and ardent fan of Debbie’s, I used every tool in my toolbox and in the end, my one voice was not only heard, it was joined by literally thousands.  It started as a single email.  I asked everyone I knew to join in a virtual Plea for Healing, sent an email blast, posted a video, circulated a Facebook invitation, LinkedIn, Tweeted and Tumblr-d.  Hours later the stats on Facebook and YouTube were compelling; a viral explosion across borders, time zones and most importantly, Jewish movements.

Regardless of what country we lived in, what our personal and spiritual practices were, thousands of us came together focused on one thing – offering prayer through song for one woman, Debbie Friedman, whose music has touched all of our lives.

A single plea had turned into a movement of hope. So 24 hours after my initial post, we sang and posted some more and continued to pray.  I put up a second YouTube video looking forward to doing it all again next week.

But next week won’t come for Debbie.  So did we fail?  It’s hard not to feel that way for a moment, but that moment passes because something inside me knows better, understands the larger purpose.

The true meaning and power of prayer is that it brings people together and reminds them to hope and believe in the force of what their collective efforts can bring.

It’s not about outcome and every soul has a separate course to follow, one that only sometimes are we in a position, as human beings, to affect.  If at all possible, I believe a soul will choose to wait for the right time to cross; the time when they have peace, when they know they are done their life’s work and completed their spiritual purpose.   Then they return to Spirit to serve in a different way and to once again, connect to the Divine.

It was as if Debbie left knowing she had completed her life’s work and those of us who remain here on this Earth, were and yes, still are, connected – to each other, to the belief and hope that in raising One Voice, we can make a difference.  As Debbie continues her work from a different place, I am reminded to do the same, right where I am, in similar ways and yet, forever changed by this experience and her inspiration.

Thank you Debbie for your swan song, your gift.

As according to Jewish tradition, I say may your memory eternally be for a blessing.

And let us say, Amen.

A Tribue to Debbie Friedman

6 Responses to Her Final Song . . . in memoriam for Debbie Friedman
  1. Diva-Mama
    January 10, 2011 | 7:27 am

    This note arrived this morning from Elise Levine, Debbie Friedman’s cousin:

    “Shira –
    Thank you for the creation of a virtual chevra to pray for Debbie – what was so ironic was that at 6:10 PM we were being told that basically Debbie’s situation (if it did not improve within the next 1/2 hour) was not compatible with survival and I immediately blurted out “What time is it” and they told me and I said… THE WORLD IS PRAYING FOR DEBBIE… IF THERE IS GOING TO BE A MIRACLE.. IT”S GOING TO HAPPEN NOW…

    Unfortunately, it was not meant to be – but I truly believe that worlds prayer eased her transition…

    The funeral has been posted in a variety of places on the internet… it will be Tuesday at 1/11/11 at 11 AM at Temple Beth Shalom in Santa Ana California… as of now the funeral will be transmitted live via internet so that all who can not attend live, can be part.

    I feel so blessed to have connected with people like you who loved Debbie… I believe that all of these connections are beshert.. .and for us all to just come to together for a higher purpose…

    B’shalom –


  2. Diva-Mama
    January 10, 2011 | 7:45 am

    The One Voice Movement continues . . . Funeral services, open to the public, will be held Tuesday, Jan. 11 at 11 a.m. at Temple Beth Sholom, 2625 N. Tustin Ave. Santa Ana, CA 92705. Phone: 714-628-4600. Internet participation instructions to follow.

    • Micki Cohen
      January 10, 2011 | 7:59 am

      Debbie Friedman’s music will live on forever…
      Sing Unto G-D…

      • Diva-Mama
        January 21, 2011 | 12:57 pm

        May our voices continue to be lifted together . . . Amen, Selah!

  3. Reisa Schwartzman
    January 10, 2011 | 1:08 pm

    Hi Shira, I got your name from one of the sites. I do not know how to contact Debbie’s family but hope you can pass this message on.

    As a youth I was very active in BBYO and USY. The music that inspired me through these years was Debbie’s music. It inspired me to be committed to my community, Israel and my own personal growth as a Jewish Women.

    As a Wexner Grad, I had the great pleasure to meet and I study with Debbie and was again Inspired. Twice I was involved in bringing Debbie to Vancouver to sing – an experience I will never forget.

    My children grew up listening to her music and were honoured to meet Debbie after the concerts. To know Debbie is to love her. Her spirit, energy and love for other human beings has taught and inspired thousands. There has never been a more amazing concert experience other than watching an entire theatre on their feet dancing to her music. I’ve seen it so many times –

    I want to thank her for so much – there is a special part inside of me that is there only because of Debbie.

    Please send my message to Debbie’s family. I pray that she has a speedy recover and can return to her beloved family and watch her family grow.

    My words do not tell the profound in pack that she has had in my life. I am so grateful to have been a part of her music, her life and having Debbie be my teacher and friend.

    Reisa Schwartzman
    Vancouver, BC

    • Diva-Mama
      January 21, 2011 | 12:56 pm

      Dear Reisa,

      I wanted you to know that I did forward your comment posted here to her cousin, Elise Levine. She expressed her deep gratitude for the connection and comments and I personally, appreciate the time you took to share your story.

      Thank you.


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