The Mirror and Amy Winehouse's Jewish burial


By Jennifer Lipman
July 25, 2011
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It seems clear that troubled star Amy Winehouse will have a Jewish burial, after a post-mortem examination.

While a hungry media waits for more details: when, where, who will attend, will there be a shiva (OK, that one is less of a concern for the media at large), one newspaper decided to explain to its readers how Amy's behaviour in life could impact her death.

From the Mirror:

"Mitch is desperate to bury Amy as soon as possible, in accordance with Jewish traditions. The family have begun the first stage of mourning, "sitting shiva", a week when mourners gather.

"Amy will be buried today or tomorrow, after the postmortem. Orthodox Jewish tradition dictates that tattoos are cut off first, but it’s unclear if this will be the case with her inkings."

Two corrections. First, a shiva begins after a burial, so it's unlikely her family have begun this.

More importantly, the Mirror has resorted to a myth that is repeated time and again, yet is one that even Wikipedia says is not true in bright bold letters: the idea that Jews cannot be buried with tattoos.

It's true that tattoos are forbidden in Judaism. In Leviticus it says: "You shall not makes gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on your selves."

But there is no rule barring people with tattoos from having a Jewish funeral.

Or, I might add, requiring them to have them cut off; in fact, Jewish law states that the body should be buried as a whole, with all limbs and organs intact (hence the debate about the halacha of organ donation).

I'm no fan of tattoos personally. Given that one of the ways the Nazis identified Jews was by tattooing numbers onto their arms, I can see why many Jews might have an issue with them. But that's not the same as a ban. The Mirror should have checked.

h/t Jon Benjamin

COMMENTS

Inigo Montoya

Mon, 07/25/2011 - 14:10

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The Mirror should have checked. But where did the Mirror get this from in the first place?

I'm betting it was from a Jewish journalist. As kids, we all head that Jews with tattoos can't have Jewish funerals. It was one of those things that grandparents said and teachers told us in Cheder or Kodesh lessons.

How else would the Mirror be wrong enough to run an old bubbameister?


Joe Millis

Mon, 07/25/2011 - 14:18

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Amy Winehouse can now truly rest in peace. She'ha'makom yenachem et mishpachta beyn she'ar evlei tzion


Advis3r

Mon, 07/25/2011 - 14:33

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What a sad and tragic end - may Hashem comfort her family among all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.


benjya

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:17

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Probably worth pointing out that the tattoo comment has now been removed from The Mirror's online page.


Jonathan Hoffman

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:25

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re the tattoo calumny: several people incl me complained and the Mirror corrected


Jennifer Lipman

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:37

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Thanks - good to know. No apology though, unless I'm missing it.


Jonathan Hoffman

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:11

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no - no apology


Ben F

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:33

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I am not the brightest bulb in the chandelier so maybe I am missing something. How does cremation equate with the burying of the body whole ?

And why the whining ? If the mirror made a mistake and corrected it why this pathetic calumny / apology nonsense ? Somone was misinformed and became better informed. Why is that not good enough ?


Elliotto

Fri, 07/29/2011 - 13:21

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Sorry Jennifer but this was not a Jewish funeral; cremation is not allowed in Jewish law. Ever since her early public appearance on Strat Pack, Yom Kippur eve 2004, her sweet Jewish looks gradually transformed into something resembling a demon, riding roughshod over everything authentically Jewish. Jewish parents take note when you encourage your children to hanker after fame and fortune.


Joe Millis

Fri, 07/29/2011 - 14:31

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I am not entirely sure you can blame Mitch and Janis Winehouse for encouraging Amy z"l to "hanker after fame and fortune". She was a natural talent. To write what she did before the age of 30 displays genius.


Elliotto

Fri, 07/29/2011 - 15:35

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So who was to blame for her cremation? I seriously doubt the fickle music biz will even remember her in a years time; there is nothing original in her work, all very derivative. Some of the mainstream Jewish schools, along with the families of their pupils, consider stardom to be the pinnacle of achievement. There is a lot of 'natural talent' out there which can be channelled in all sorts ways, without destroying young lives. It's all documented in the 1974 film Stardust.


Joe Millis

Fri, 07/29/2011 - 15:40

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That's a bit harsh. Some people want cremation after death. Even Jews. Her work was highly original. And it was all her own. The first time I heard Frank, I thought she was some mid-40s American jazz and blues singer. She wrote all her own stuff and was a perfect antidote to the manufactured plastic Simon Cowell-promoted crap you hear nowadays. Her music will still be played long after you or I shuffle off this mortal coil.
She was a real person, not something thought up by a promoter.
Let's leave her rest in peace.


Elliotto

Fri, 07/29/2011 - 16:00

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You're towing the party line Joe. Of course if measured against all that X Factor synthetic stuff. But there is now over 50 years of music business, mostly built up by innumerable artists and musicians who 'wrote their own stuff' and played brilliant innotive music without having to go into a time-warp.
I repeat cremation is against Jewish law and is chosen by people who choose to do everything opposite; sorry to be so blunt.


Joe Millis

Fri, 07/29/2011 - 16:03

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I'm not toeing any line. There is also far more than 50 years of music. I'd say music is as old as time itself.


Elliotto

Tue, 08/02/2011 - 10:27

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Yeh but the music business as we know it started in about the late 1950s; by the end of the 90s it had run out of ideas. I don't believe even you will remember Amy Winehouse's music in a year's time. She would have been an average-to-good piano bar singer, however she became the champion of the sickly, nihilistic youth culture of the early 21st century, and this proved to be her destruction.

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