Thursday, February 10, 2011

A missing obituary

The Jewish Week published a very touching obituary for Jewish singer/songwriter Debbie Friedman. The Jewish Press, a newspaper intended for a mostly right-wing Orthodox readership, published . . . nothing. I was just curious to know to what extent, if at all, the Orthodox community was even aware of her existence. Is it only the right wing that either didn't know about her or won't acknowledge her? Did/do Orthodox women, not constrained by the prohition against a man listening to a woman sing ("kol isha, a woman's voice"), listen to her music? Or was/is it also a problem that she didn't use the "substitute names" for G-d, such as HaShem, which are used to avoid taking G-d's name in vain, when she sang?


Blogger Miami Al said...

I spent most of my life in the Reform Movement.

I'd never heard of her until you posted this.

Thu Feb 10, 11:07:00 AM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Miami Al, I, too, became aware of her music only within the past 5 years or so, and I've been Conservative all of my life. It's probably true that many, if not most, musicians who specialize in Jewish music are not that well-known outside of certain circles. I vaguely remember another blogger (Heshie, of Frum Satire?) once joking that there are Orthodox Jews who actually believe that a singer such as Mordechai Fried, or was it Mordechai Ben David, is as well known as Michael Jackson. He was amused that they would be so naive. Jewish music really is a niche market.

"I spent most of my life in the Reform Movement."

You? Reform? It's hard to imagine. :) But then again, I never imagined myself becoming as observant as I now am, however far that may still be from the Orthodox definition of "observant."

Thu Feb 10, 11:43:00 AM 2011  
Blogger Miami Al said...


Eh, that's how I grew up. We went to Temple a few times a year. Religion wasn't for me. Then it was, then observance was, it's all fluid.

Yes, there is a BIZARRE bubble, where people inside of these Jewish niches think that they are far more significant than they are.

I find it funny when frummies go on and on about Hebrew National, and how can the company not know that "nobody eats Triangle K."

Orthodox Jews are SO TINY in numbers, we're not even a significant part of the Kosher market.

Thu Feb 10, 11:50:00 AM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"Orthodox Jews are SO TINY in numbers, we're not even a significant part of the Kosher market."

How ironic.

Thu Feb 10, 12:10:00 PM 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard her havdalah tune used in LWMO circles. That doesn't mean the people using it know it was written by Debbie Friedman, though. I'd been hearing her havdalah tune for years before my girlfriend told me I was stupid for "not liking Debbie Friedman" when I'd been happily singing along to one of her songs. Oops!

Thu Feb 10, 12:17:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Anon., it is entirely possible that people know some of her songs but don't know that she was the composer thereof. I suspect that a good few of the tunes that I know are by Carlebach, unbeknownst to me, and I have a hunch that I'm not the only person in that boat.

Thu Feb 10, 12:33:00 PM 2011  
Anonymous AnecDatum said...

I know this post is pretty old, but I was reminded of it just now. While reading this: I came across a line describing the "difference between halacha, aggadah, and minhag [...] minhag, which is things like Debbie Friedman and other things that are palpably Reform." If this is a reasonable characterization, it might have some bearing on this.
I'm not Reform and never have been, so I'm just taking Crystal Decadenz's word for it. However, even if Debbie Friedman's music is not currently limited to/widespread in Reform Judaism, (as per you and your formerly-Reform commenter respectively,and using 'currently' loosely) if her music was strongly identified with the Reform movement at any point, I could see it being ignored/avoided/rejected by much of Orthodoxy.
(I realize that if you don't get email updates (or something) informing you of new comments, you may not see this for a while.)

Tue Jun 28, 03:13:00 AM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"if her music was strongly identified with the Reform movement at any point, I could see it being ignored/avoided/rejected by much of Orthodoxy."

That's a distinct possibility, AnecDatum. I've heard that certain prayer tunes--the one I've always heard for "Aleinu" comes to mind--are not used in some Orthodox synagogues because they started out in Reform synagogues.

Wed Jun 29, 10:48:00 PM 2011  

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