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Debbie Friedman Helped Me Find My Voice

On January 28 at 8PM, Join Hebrew Union College’s Jewish Institute of Religion for Sing Unto God, a virtual event to commemorate Debbie Friedman’s legacy on the occasion of her 10th Yahrzeit. Register here.

With my long, curly, mop of dark hair, I’m buckled up in the back seat of our blue ‘86 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. I can’t wait. Today, it’s just me and my mom on our way to Indiana University in Bloomington. Not only are we going to eat cookies the size of our faces while my mom tells me stories of how she met my dad, but Debbie Friedman has come to give a concert. 

The summer before, I spent weeks at my day camp, making up a dance to “Miriam’s Song.”  We wear flowing skirts, shake tambourines, and we dance over and over again. I am a tiny feminist bringing Miriam to life, even though I don’t know what feminism is.

Music is a love language in our family; and I’m only eight when my Bubbe, the original source of music in our family, dies. This first great loss leaves me sad and withdrawn, twitchy and morbid. This trip with my mom, a musical genius in her own right, feels the closest to normal it’s been in a while. We know all the words to every song on “You Shall Be a Blessing,” and it’s in the cassette deck while we drive.