Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tikkun for Amy

Amy Winehouse lived a tragic life, which ended suddenly last week.  Her funeral was held yesterday, after which her body was taken to the Golders Green Crematorium and cremated.

According to Jewish law, a person is only held accountable for his/her actions when they are done willingly, and with full cognizance of their implications. I doubt that Amy had much input into her lack of a proper Jewish burial - a spokesman for the family said "Cremation is part of the family's tradition"

"Shiva - the Jewish ceremony of bereavement - will be observed for two days starting at 5pm today at the Schinder Hall at Southgate Progressive Synagogue."  

Southgate Progressive Synagogue should be totally ashamed of themselves for allowing this family to go ahead with the cremation of their daughter.     

Here are the reasons why Jews are not cremated.  May the learning of this topic be a tikkun for Amy's soul:

Jewish law ("Halachah") is unequivocal that the dead must be buried in the earth.

As a deterrent measure, cremated remains are not interred in a Jewish cemetery. Furthermore, we are told that many of the traditional laws of mourning are not observed after the passing of an individual whose body was cremated. Kaddish, however, is recited for such individuals, and it is certainly appropriate to give charity and do mitzvot in memory of their souls.

Responsibility for the deceased's proper burial lies with the next of kin. While ordinarily Jewish law requires the deceased's children to go to great lengths to respect the departed's wishes, if someone requests to be cremated or buried in a manner which is not in accordance with Jewish tradition, we nevertheless provide him/her with a Jewish burial. It is believed that since the soul has now arrived to the World of Truth it surely sees the value of a proper Jewish burial, and thus administering a traditional Jewish burial is actually granting what the person truly wishes at the moment. Furthermore, if anyone, all the more so your father and mother, asks you to damage or hurt their body, you are not allowed to do so. For our bodies do not belong to us, they belong to G-d.
Learn more at: Why Does Jewish Law Forbid Cremation


  1. I read the article today and was shocked! Motzei Shabbos I read an article that ended stating Amy would be buried 'according to Jewish tradition.' I actually felt relief when I read it. The grief I felt for Amy is she never knew the value of being a Jew, that she never lit candles or experienced the beauty of Shabbos. I wrote the rabbi officiating the cremation. I asked about the 'traditional' 2 day mourning period and the cremation. What good will it do? Despite her lifestyle she was still a Jew and deserved to be properly buried as one.

  2. Good idea, let's all write to the rabbi:

  3. The parents need spiritual intervention of the most urgent. Amy's gilgul here was rife with strife and pain - she was literally tortured. They need to be told of the journey the soul takes, why TIME is of such an essence how all stages in the soul's journey and subsequent elevation require the element of time here on earth to transpire. It is them that could HELP HER get to where she needs to be going without delay. They simply do not know. In her life she couldn't be helped - now in her death as well? If they can't step up to the plate and do this with a year's Kaddish - they can pay someone to do it for them. To recite mishnayot for her neshama. It's a huge thing to be doing for her. Someone from the community - not the REFORMS - needs to step in and give them this information. Maybe the local Chabad!

  4. Devorah, thank you for a most beautiful and compassionately-worded post. indeed, may it be a tikkun for her soul.

  5. My neshama is crying for her. Yes, we need to write to this rabbi. I don't know what it will do, yet we should still make the effort.

  6. It seems by that responsa of Rav Silberberg that cremation at most is a rabbinic prohibition. His argument that cremation isn't burying someone in the earth is weak at best. I would love to hear a response from a traditional Sephardi rav, who can actually mention the sources of mishnah and gemara to prove the biblical prohibition. (I am not advocating violating rabbinic prohibitions, but just the reaction we give it)

    I dont see what all the fuss is about. The bigger story here is what this girl did to her life, and people around did not interfere (to our knowledge) and how the masses look up to her life (some do).

    It also seems, that the rabbinic prohibition was a much later instituted prohibition (like almost everything we the "orthodox" keep so dearly).

  7. I jsut wrote to a Rabbi Howard the website. I wrote it very respectfully and hope it is received well. My intent (and I wrote this) was to reach out warmly and not to judge.

  8. I don't think there is any of the 365 negative commandments which would qualify this as a biblical prohibition, so technically, DR M is right.

    However, it seems to me that this is a negation of the belief in תחיית המתים, which would make it worse than transgressing a biblical commandment - it makes one an אפיקורס.

    In the case of the Winehouses, they may just be תינוקות שנשבו.

  9. Anonymous, I don't see your point. I don't see how if god can't bring a human back to life, he can't put dust together to reform the body. Your limited brain is trying to understand an infinite being, and then labeling Jews who never learnt better apikores

  10. So Doc would you cremate a member of your family, and if not, why not?

  11. her uncle is professer aniv at TAU ,SHE VISITED ISRAEL MANY times ,and wore a magen david...

  12. We're to consider Jews who never learned - not apikores - but as if they'd been abducted as a child into an alien culture. Their lack of learning is not their fault. Amy's "Jewish" family tradition was cremation! This attitude of considering someone like Amy an apikores is IMHO arrogant and destructive to the Jewish nation.

  13. That's what Anon wrote:

    In the case of the Winehouses, they may just be תינוקות שנשבו - tinok shenishba. No-one called them apikores.

  14. From what I heard and saw last in Halacha about Jews who willed themselves to get cremated, NO Shiva is performed and NO Kaddish is recited for them , because it doesn't do any good for the Neshama of the person who willed this to happen.

  15. May her soul finally know peace, and perhaps this tragedy is a lesson that true joy and fulfillment in life can never come from fame and secular accomplishment, but only from living one's life according to the Torah's teachings between man and G-d, and between man and his fellow (although she didn't know any better). (Not that there is an inherent problem in having fame, etc., but these are not the key to true joy.)


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