Aired 2012-13 on NBC. A Journey of Spirit is a wonderfully vibrant and moving film that makes us laugh, cry and sing! This inspirational story of the pre-eminent Jewish singer/songwriter Debbie Friedman, offers insights into the woman and her music, and the influence of her music across boundaries of religion, culture, age and gender. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, a quiet revolution began in the world of liberal American Judaism. At the heart of the revolution was singer/songwriter Debbie Friedman. Influenced by American folk music, Friedman began writing and performing her own folk songs, incorporating Jewish themes and liturgy. Her music quickly caught on with young people all over the United States, and by 1972 she had released her first album "Sing Unto God." Although her popular reception was immeasurable, her reception by the Reform establishment was less warm. Cantors felt threatened. They feared that the genre known as "Debbie Friedman" would infiltrate the synagogue and that would be the end of nusach, or traditional Jewish modes.
Combining English and Hebrew and speaking in an inclusive, egalitarian language, Debbie Friedman has confronted traditionalists, combated gender roles and managed to transform Jewish sacred music so that it is accessible to a large and diverse audience. Through Debbie Friedman’s story, Ann Coppel explores the transformation of liberal Jewish worship over the past 30 years, weaving in interviews with live concert footage that will make anyone who’s ever set foot in summer camp, tap their feet and sing along.
A Journey of Spirit lets us experience the positive influence that one determined woman can have on the spiritual lives of Jews, as well as the infinite power of music to generate community, spirituality, and healing. Ann Coppel’s thought-provoking documentary educates and challenges viewers of all denominations.
View the trailer: