Remembering Amy Winehouse z”l

Remembering Amy Winehouse z”l

I had never even heard of Amy Winehouse before she was found dead at the age of 27 last month.

But following her death, I googled her name and listened to her music and discovered a phenomenally gifted musician. Her caramel-smooth, core-of-the-Earth deep voice. What talent, what brilliance, even. I’ve never really heard anything like it.

5 grammys. One of the world’s most successful musicians. And on top of all that, a bat Yisrael.

So what happened? What went so horribly wrong?

By the time she died, Amy had already been struggling for 6 years with drug and alcohol abuse. For years, she would show up at concerts all over the world drunk or stoned or high, and her disappointed fans would boo her off the stage.

It was too painful for me to watch a video I found of one of those humiliating moments, I stopped the video as though the image of a gory accident had suddenly flashed unexpectedly across my computer screen. Averting my eyes from the human train crash that was Amy Winehouse.

And the most tragic part of all was to see Amy’s Jewish face, and to hear her unforgettable voice, and to see the undeniable flickering light of a Divine Jewish soul underneath the tattoos and the cleavage and her drug-induced ramblings.

At the funeral for my friend Chagit bat Leah this past winter, a sobbing friend asked me: “Do you know what Chagit bat Leah stands for? Chet, Bet, Lamed– Chaval.” What a waste. What a horrible shame.

And in a way I agreed with her. But in a way, I didn’t.

Of course, it was a horrible shame that Chagit’s great light was extinguished at such a young age. What an unfathomable loss for her family, for her friends, for her community.

But was it really a waste? Think of what Chagit did manage to accomplish during her short 39 years.

At around the same age that Amy Winehouse was found dead, Chagit was reborn. She turned around her life 180 degrees, and on fire with love for Hashem she abandoned her secular lifestyle. Chagit married her soul mate and gave birth and raised 5 amazing, beautiful, religious Jewish children. She established a God-centered Jewish home based on Torah and mitzvoth and chesed and Ahavat Yisrael. She taught hundreds of people, including me, the true meaning of chesed, the true meaning of emuna.

And what about Amy Winehouse?

In 2007, Amy Winehouse told an Australian newspaper, “I love parties and rock ’n’ roll, but secretly I’m never happier than when I’m cleaning. In 10 years’ time I’m gonna be looking after my husband and our seven kids. … At the end of the day, I’m a Jewish girl.”

I don’t know Amy Winehouse’s Hebrew name. But I know that what her name stands for: Chet Bet Lamed.

What a waste. What a horrible, horrible shame.


  1. Tziona Achishena

    illusion world trapped
    holy soul of Israel
    may we all be free

  2. What a moving post. So beautifully expressed.
    And for all that she wasn’t, her quote to the newspaper was, coming from her: a tremendous kiddush Hashem. She just didn’t know how to get there, and had noone to show her.
    A yearning soul snuffed out before too much damage was done.

  3. ג’ני, זה אחד הפוסטים הכי יפים שיש.

  4. Beautifully written. Thanks.

  5. Bs”d
    I heard about Amy z’l but didn’t know this..thank you for sharing.
    May her Soul have aliya and return with the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.

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