At a memorial tribute to Debbie Friedman at Central Synagogue on January 27, 2011, Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, made the following announcement:
A beloved member of our faculty since 2007, Debbie Friedman, z”l, inspired our students through her creativity and musical talents, helped guide their spiritual and leadership development, and provided them with innovative strategies to transform congregations into communities of learning and meaning. Our students were blessed by her devotion, and our faculty was enriched by her gifts and talents. Her words and her music will live on and shape the world of prayer in our synagogues and in the larger Jewish community for this and future generations.
Generous friends of the College-Institute have made possible the endowment of the HUC-JIR School of Sacred Music to ensure that the mission of the SSM – to provide the finest cantorial education across a full range of liturgical and musical styles – will receive permanent support. This endowment has been made out of deep love and friendship for Debbie Friedman and to honor her singular contributions to religious worship, spiritual renewal, and the Jewish people. The School of Sacred Music will now bear her name, and will henceforth be called The Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music. We are profoundly grateful for this act of genuine hesed (true loving kindness) in memory of our beloved Debbie.
Since its founding in 1948, the School of Sacred Music has been marked by academic and musical excellence, and the School has educated its students in the total breadth and depth of the cantorial tradition. Our pluralistic faculty, representing many different streams of Judaism, has exposed our students to the widest range of traditional nusach, musical styles, and professional skills. We can now confidently assert that our school will continue to do so as the College-Institute fulfills its ongoing sacred mission of producing “sweet singers in Israel,” cantors who will elevate and awaken the souls and spirits of the Jewish people b’chol mekomot moshvoteinu – within the synagogue and beyond in all our places of habitation.
eJP note: according to multiple reports circulating on Twitter, and later confirmed by the College, the generous friends referred to above are Bonnie and Daniel Tisch.