I never met Ariel Sharon personally, but I feel like I have lost a close friend.
In August 2004, Israeli Prime Minister Sharon had stated his intention to evacuate the Gaza Strip. The decision elicited strong reactions from across the Israeli and American Jewish political spectrums.
Ariel Sharon is now buried in the land he loved, next to his beloved wife Lily, on a hilltop overlooking the verdant fields of Havat Ha-shikmim, the ranch he retreated to as often as possible each week for the peace and quiet that eluded him in public life. Having served as the American ambassador to Israel during almost all of Sharon’s tenure as prime minister, I had the privilege of being named to the U.S. delegation to his funeral, headed by Vice President Biden. It was a day for remembrance and, to some degree, closure for the millions of Israelis who mourned Sharon’s passing.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s funeral in Jerusalem on Monday was the largest in recorded Jewish history; it drew an estimated 800,000 attendees, fully one-tenth of Israel’s entire population, with barely five hours’ notice. Thousands rent their garments in mourning. Jews around the country sobbed. The media held vigil in the hospital corridors during the rabbi’s last hours, as disciples and politicians came to take leave.
Q - I have always been under the impression that cremation and tatoos are forbidden by Jewish law. Yet the recent funeral for Amy Winehouse was very Jewish in nature although the singer — who was amply tattooed — had asked to be cremated. Is cremation now accepted in Jewish quarters?
I was never a fan of Amy Winehouse's music, but I think I understood where it came from. Like me, Winehouse grew up enthralled by black music, and with hip-hop in particular. Winehouse--who died on Sunday at 27, and was buried today in accordance with Jewish custom--told The Los Angeles Times a few years ago that her first singing act was in a female hip-hop duo. She formed th
The first time I heard about a "virtual simcha" was in the late 1990s. Detroit was hit with a massive snowstorm and the 8-day old baby boy's aunt who was to play the role of rabbi was stuck at the airport in New York. The rabbi improvised and she officiated at her nephew's bris via speaker phone.
Of course, if this happened in 2010 and not in the late 1990s the bris would have been officiated by the rabbi through Skype, and she would have seen the simcha and been seen by the attendees.
Using technology to add people to a simcha is becoming more common. An increasing number of grandparents and great-grandparents are attending their grandchildren's wedding in the virtual world.
Just last month I officiated at a wedding that was being streamed live to Israel so that the bride's elderly grandparents could "be there." Through Ustream.tv, the grandparents felt like they were at the wedding even if it meant staying up late into the night in Israel.