The Eulogizer: Beloved songwriter and folk singer, prominent Israeli journalist


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Eulogizer is a new column (soon-to-be blog) that highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Learn about their achievements, honor their memories, and celebrate Jewish lives well lived with The Eulogizer. Write to the Eulogizer at Read previous columns here.

Beloved folk singer, community activist Debbie Friedman

Debbie Friedman, whose folk-inspired melodies have become standards for thousands of Jewish communities and families worldwide, died Jan. 9 at 59. JTA will be producing a major article on Friedman and her legacy, and has published a news brief, but her passing had to be noted by The Eulogizer.

Friedman blended Jewish text and liturgy with folk, pop and New Age tunes to create a modern liturgy that is used in summer camps, synagogues, communal organizations and homes. The Forward described Friedman as "liberal Judaism’s counterpart to Shlomo Carlebach," and said her music allowed all "to feel connected with sacred prayer even if they knew no Hebrew or were unfamiliar with the prayerbook."

Friedman began as a group song leader at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute summer camp in the early 1970s. The group’s website noted her passing on its homepage and said Friedman "influenced and enriched contemporary Jewish music in a profound way. Her music crossed generational and denominational lines and carved a powerful legacy of authentic Jewish spirituality into our daily lives."

Friedman recorded more than 20 albums and performed hundreds of concerts worldwide. In 2007 she was named instructor in music at the School of Sacred Music of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Southern California.

Prominent Israeli journalist

Dov Yudkovsky, a Holocaust survivor who became one of Israel’s leading modern journalists, working at and then helming Yediot Achronot, the country’s largest newspaper, died Dec. 28 at 87.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Yudkovsky "exemplified fair, unbiased journalism" and crafted a newspaper that "reached out towards its readers, looked them in the eye and spoke their language." Yudkovsky won the Israel Prize for his journalism in 2002.

Yudkovsky was born in Warsaw in 1923, but grew up in Belgium. He was a forced laborer in Nazi concentration camps in Poland and was sent to Buchenwald in a death march. He was the only member of his family to survive the war and came to prestate Israel, where he joined the Yediot’s Jerusalem office. The publisher was his cousin, Yehuda Mozes. Yudkovsky managed to keep the paper operating in Jerusalem even during the siege of the city during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948.

In a eulogy, Yediot credited Yudkovsky with training younger reporters to write in a "simple, upfront, clear and colloquial" style. Haaretz cited an interview with Yudkovsky in which he described Yediot as "a paper the minister won’t be ashamed to read and the minister’s driver won’t be intimidated by."

Last July, Yudkovsky donated about $400,000 to the Tel Aviv Journalists’ Association to establish a media center in his name.

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