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October 4, 2015 | 21st Tishrei 5776

Rabbi Edwards, Cantor Porat, Cantorial Soloist Chalin, Beth Chayim Chadashim, Los Angeles, CA

Dear BCC friends,

Many of you have already heard the sad news that Debbie Friedman has died, after a brief illness.

Composer, Jewish liturgist, singer-songwriter, prayer leader extraordinaire, member of the lgbt community--Debbie touched our lives in ways too many to count.

It was Debbie Friedman who taught the liberal Jewish world to pray for healing and just as there were special prayers offered worldwide (including at BCC) over the last few days for her healing, so now will there be prayers offered with the intent to comfort the many who mourn her loss, and to bring her soul to rest under the wings of Shekhinah.

She started out as a camp counselor and song leader who brought modern melodies of Jewish prayers to Jewish camps. Soon she began composing, singing, and sharing music that changed the landscape of not just Jewish song but Jewish thought as well. Thousands of people sang the word - "emotainu" even before they knew what the word meant! The power of her music raised a whole new generation of Jews who sang prayers and songs that included women and women of the Torah.

While many congregations regularly include Debbie Friedman songs and liturgy in their prayers and prayerbooks, BCC's prayerbook includes this special note under her song, Lechi-lach: "This song, based on Genesis 12:1-2, was written by Debbie Friedman and BCC member Savina Teubal, z'l, for the Simchat Chochma ("joy of wisdom") ceremony that Savina created on the occasion of her 60th birthday. This ceremony, at which this song premiered, took place at Beth Chayim Chadashim, Los Angeles in November 1986 on Shabbat Lech Lecha."

Numerous BCC members count Debbie Friedman among their friends, still more count her songs as significant influences on our lives, and all of BCC's clergy count her among our important teachers and role models. She taught us so much, brought us so much. She will be missed, even as we know that the many gifts she gave us -- not only her songs, but a different way to pray -- will live on, continuing to bless us in moments of sorrow and joy.

A particular disappointment to us is a recent plan made for Debbie to join Juval on the bimah at BCC for Ruach Chayim -- they were both looking forward to joining their voices in song and prayer. Instead, know that Juval will be sharing many Debbie Friedman prayers with us this coming Friday night, January 14.

The funeral will take place on Tuesday, January 11th at 11 am at Temple Beth Sholom; 2625 North Tustin Avenue; Santa Anna, California 92705.

Condolences may be sent to Debbie's mother, Freda Friedman, and her sister, Cheryl Friedman at 844 Ronda Mendoza; Unit C; Laguna Woods, California 92637.

We are asked not to contact or visit the family prior to the funeral.

The Jewish Journal has issued invitations to the public to submit a short memory or tribute for its website, with an immediate deadline for any submissions intended for the print addition -- this morning January 10 at 11am. Send your email to: Julie Gruenbaum Fax at

Hamakom y'nakhem etkhem b'tokh sha'ar aveilei tziyon virushalayim

May God, who comforts Israel, grant you solace in your bereavement. Her memory will forever be a blessing...

l'shalom, Rabbi Lisa Edwards, Cantor Juval Porat, & Cantorial Soloist Emerita Fran Chalin

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