By Jennifer Lipman
July 25, 2011
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