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Debbie Friedman: A Woman Whose Life Blessed Us All

Debbie Friedman, Jewish American folks singerDebbie Friedman was a Jewish American Folk Singer who made more than 20 albums and performed at Carnegie Hall and around the world. Her inspirational songs span the ages as they are sung by 4 year children to 90 year women and men. She passed away just recently on January 9th, 2011, but the songs she created will surely living in thousands of people’s hearts forever.

One of my favorite songs of hers came out of Psalm 126. She took a verse and made it into a song of healing.

Here is the verse:

“Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.”

This verse echoes a very basic truth that we must be able to touch our sorrows in order to really reach our joys. It’s echoes Rumi’s advice “Don’t look away from the bandaged place, that’s where the light enters.”

When we close ourselves to the difficult feelings in life, we encase our hearts and disable them from opening to love and joy too. This has been relayed by the world’s wisdom traditions for centuries, it seems like it’s worth paying attention to.

For many of us, music accesses a different part of our brain and at times can make it more meaningful.

Most of the time in her performances, the entire crowd would be singing along with her, but usually toward the end, she would quiet down and say, “Ok, now, this one is for you.” The crowd would quiet down and she would sing them a blessing. Here it is (She would sing the Hebrew and then follow with the English translation):

Mi shebeirach avoteinu
M’kor habracha l’imoteinu

May the source of strength who blessed the ones before us,
Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing
And let us say: Amen.

Mi shebeirach imoteinu
M’kor habracha l’avoteinu

Bless those in need of healing with refuah sh’leimah
The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit
And let us say: Amen.

Here it is live:

While Debbie has passed, her songs continue to bless us with renewal of the body and renewal of the spirit. See if you can take a little of this into your day.

Please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Photo by Newton’s Life, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.

Debbie Friedman: A Woman Whose Life Blessed Us All

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is creator of the six month online program A Course in Mindful Living, author of the book Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind, the premier eCourse Basics of Mindfulness Meditation: A 28 Day Program, the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations. Join The Now Effect Community for free Daily Now Moments and a Weekly Newsletter. Dr. Goldstein is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles.

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APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2011). Debbie Friedman: A Woman Whose Life Blessed Us All. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2018, from


Last updated: 12 Jan 2011
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Jan 2011
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