Debbie Friedman: A Woman Whose Life Blessed Us All

Debbie Friedman was a Jewish American Folk Singer who made more than 20 albums and performed at Carnegie Hall and around the world. Her inspirational songs span the ages as they are sung by 4 year children to 90 year women and men. She passed away just recently on January 9th, 2011, but the songs she created will surely living in thousands of people’s hearts forever.

One of my favorite songs of hers came out of Psalm 126. She took a verse and made it into a song of healing.

Here is the verse:

“Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.”

This verse echoes a very basic truth that we must be able to touch our sorrows in order to really reach our joys. It’s echoes Rumi’s advice “Don’t look away from the bandaged place, that’s where the light enters.” When we close ourselves to the difficult feelings in life, we encase our hearts and disable them from opening to love and joy too. This has been relayed by the world’s wisdom traditions for centuries, it seems like it’s worth paying attention to.

For many of us, music accesses a different part of our brain and at times can make it more meaningful.

Most of the time in her performances, the entire crowd would be singing along with her, but usually toward the end, she would quiet down and say, “Ok, now, this one is for you.” The crowd would quiet down and she would sing them a blessing. Here it is (She would sing the Hebrew and then follow with the English translation):

Mi shebeirach avoteinu
M’kor habracha l’imoteinu

May the source of strength who blessed the ones before us,
Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing
And let us say: Amen.

Mi shebeirach imoteinu
M’kor habracha l’avoteinu

Bless those in need of healing with refuah sh’leimah
The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit
And let us say: Amen.

Here it is live:

Debbie Friedman Sings Live

While Debbie has past, her songs continue to bless us with renewal of the body and renewal of the spirit. See if you can take a little of this into your day.

Please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on

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