Understanding Debbie Friedman and her music means to understand the major liturgical and societal changes taking place in American Jewish life in the second half of the twentieth century. In this presentation, we will explore Debbie Friedman's career in ways that have rarely been addressed before: as a commissioned synagogue composer-in-residence, a collaborator in new Jewish rituals, a polished musician, and a part of liturgical and educational reform efforts in the 1970s and 1980s. Along the way, we'll see how some of her best-known songs came to be, sometimes in unexpected ways.
Judah M. Cohen is the Lou & Sybil Mervis Professor of Jewish Culture and Associate Professor of Musicology at Indiana University. His research addresses Jewish liturgical music, musical theater, popular music, and opera.