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November 23, 2014 | 1st Kislev 5775

Rabbi Michelle Pearlman, Monmouth Reform Temple, Rumson, NJ

The outpouring of love for Debbie Friedman and her music here in our community is proof that her impact has spread far and wide.

I shared these words with my congregation this week and wanted to post them here.

On a personal note, her music has such deep meaning for me. I was raised in our Reform Movement, and fell in love with Judaism through singing. As I think back to my days in youth group and youth choir, Debbie's melodies were among the first that stirred my soul. I became passionate about Jewish life because I was encouraged to sing and make the prayers my own. I wonder if I would have ever become a rabbi without her influence.

And her influence is continues to be with me, not only in my own personal spiritual practice, but in my rabbinic role. We introduce children to the Aleph Bet with her melody. We sing her music and together create community. Just last Friday, at our inaugural First Friday celebration, Cantor Clissold led 70+ children and adults as ended the service rocking out to her Not By Might. RUACH!

I have also offered her prayer for healing countless times in order to create a sense of sanctuary in hospital rooms and beyond. Most poignantly, I have been so moved to discover that even if someone is gravely ill, and has difficulty speaking or singing, when the 'amen' comes at the end of the Mi Shebeirach prayer, our voices are often joined together in strength.

My colleague Rabbi Rob Sheinberg reminded me that in the Talmud, it states that any time someone quotes the teachings of a deceased scholar, it is as if that scholar's lips are speaking from beyond. Though dim today, there is no doubt in my mind that Debbie Friedman's light will continue to shine. She has left us so many musical gifts. May we sing on, and in doing so, may we insure that her teachings, her melodies, and her many blessings become eternal.

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