Deborah Lynn Friedman, the beloved and influential composer and singer who transformed contemporary American Jewish prayer and music, died Sunday of complications of pneumonia. She would have turned 60 in February.
Known to everyone as “Debbie,” Friedman had been hospitalized for the past week in an Orange County, Calif. hospital after falling ill while at the Jewish learning conference Limmud in England at the end of December.
Friedman’s music - ubiquitous at Jewish summer camps and many Reform services- married Jewish text and liturgy with the folk tunes she came of age listening to. She was liberal Judaism’s counterpart to Shlomo Carlebach, her music allowing everyone to feel connected with sacred prayer even if they knew no Hebrew or were unfamiliar with the prayerbook.