The blog, eJewish Philanthropy, reports that the School of Sacred Music of the Hebrew Union College has been renamed The Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music.
For decades, Debbie Friedman created new genres of popular and liturgical Jewish music. She joined the faculty of the HUC School of Sacred Music in 2007. She passed away, much too young, earlier this month.
Every culture, every community, every person needs music, great music that enters us, engulfs us, helps define and anchor us.
Harry Witchel, author of the forthcoming book, You Are What You Hear, tells us that music defines our “social territory.” We are what we choose to hear, and we hang out with those who like the same music we do. Music is part of the ways we talk, part of the ways we communicate, part of the ways we know each other.
Colleges these days often include in the application process a question about what the applicant has stored on their Ipod.
Birds and whales use sounds, perhaps it could be called music, to mark the boundaries of their social territories - both to warn strangers away and to welcome friends in.
I remember reading about malls that wanted to limit the loitering of teens and so began playing music their grandparents would enjoy. It worked. The music fended off the “offending youth” like predator calls keep pigeons away.
Our environment is not just the land and water and buildings and streets. It is the light, the pulsing energy, and the noise that surrounds us, the noise that we choose to make, the noise that we choose to pull close around us. And while music has always been a part of human culture, it is even more so today with our ability to take our music with us wherever we go, and, with our ears plugged up, allowing us to block out the sounds and even consciousness of the physical world in which we tread.
Both the Jewish community and the environmental movement can use more music that inspires us, unites us, tags us as comrades, brothers and sisters, one big family.
May Debbie Friedman’s legacy encourage the blossoming of disciples who will bring more song, and common songs, to us all.