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10 Jewish Amy Winehouse moments (and photos) from a new book on her life

(JTA) — Amy Winehouse, the Jewish singer and songwriter whose soulful tunes about her dark personal life became influential pop hits, would have turned 40 this year. Her debut album “Frank” also turns 20 next month.

To mark the moment and to raise money for the Amy Winehouse Foundation, Winehouse’s family collected never-before-seen photographs, handwritten lyrics and excerpts from her diaries — from childhood to adulthood — and wrote “Amy Winehouse: In Her Words,” a biography of sorts to accompany them. On its website, the foundation lists recovery housing for women, music therapy and substance abuse education among its services.

Some have argued that Winehouse’s family — especially her father, Mitch, and her husband Blake Fielder-Civil — enabled her issues with drugs and alcohol. Winehouse first overdosed in 2007, and her father continued encouraging her to travel and perform, even filming documentary footage of an overdose recovery in Saint Lucia in 2009. The pop star died in 2011, and in “Amy,” a well-received documentary about her life from 2015, funeral-goers can be seen wearing kippahs.

But controversy aside, the Winehouse clan has faithfully chronicled Amy’s childhood and young adult years, when she attended a Jewish kindergarten, went to bat mitzvahs and enjoyed singing Jewish spiritual music in her free time. Although she was never observant as an adult (and said she hated going to Hebrew school on Sundays), Amy enjoyed Jewish holiday gatherings. She was also spotted wearing a Star of David necklace at times. In 2013, the Jewish Museum in London devoted an exhibit to her.

Here are 10 Jewish moments from the book, which was published this week.

She attended a Jewish nursery school.

Photos of an infant Amy. (Courtesy of The Amy Winehouse Foundation)

From the book: “[She] went to nursery at Yavneh School, which was attached to [London’s] Southgate Synagogue. She was never hard to spot, singing at the top of her lungs.”

She sat in the synagogue’s front row at her brother’s bar mitzvah.

(Courtesy of The Amy Winehouse Foundation)

Jewish music was a core part of her musical journey.

In addition to jazz, Jewish music was a big influence on Amy in her early years. She especially loved the Hanukkah song “Ma’oz Tzur.”

From the book: “Music also seeped effortlessly into Amy’s consciousness and she could recite lyrics and sing tunes after hearing a song maybe just once or twice. At her nan Cynthia’s house she was surrounded by jazz music: anyone from Frank Sinatra to Ella Fitzgerald to Sarah Vaughan. And at home she performed songs from the musical Mary Poppins or Jewish hymns that we’d taught her. She repeated one hymn, ‘Maʼoz Tzur’, over and over until she got it right. ‘Okay, Amy. Enough,’ was a familiar expression in our house as she sang continuously at the top of her voice.”

She once sang Jewish spiritual music on a Miami beach.

In 1997, Amy traveled to Miami with her mother, Janis, for a family bar mitzvah.

From the book: “Privately, however, Amy was honing her writing talent. Her notebooks from this time showed the reflections of a typical teenage girl trying to find her way in the world: going to parties and having crushes on boys. In 1997 for a break Janis took her to visit her family near Miami, where they attended a bar mitzvah on the beach. Amy set scribbling into her notebook and singing Jewish spiritual songs with her cousins.”

She sent her brother a letter with Hanukkah stamps.

(Courtesy of The Amy Winehouse Foundation)

The letter read: “Dear Ally, Miami great we’re great bar mitzvah great Cochrans great. You great? Weather good today beach & shopping! Miss you! Love Amy x + Mummy x PS. I can play the guitar! (Well, 5 chords) To Mr A. Winehouse London, ENGLAND

From the book: She learned five chords on the guitar and she couldn’t wait to tell her brother Alex. As much as Amy was failing at school, her musical and lyrical talent was developing.

She had American Jewish relatives in Florida.

Winehouse, in the yellow shirt on left, seen at a family gathering in Florida. (Courtesy of The Amy Winehouse Foundation)

The caption for this photo, from the book: Amy with Janis and her American family in Florida at her twin cousins’ Bar Mitzvah. Amy spent much of that holiday either practicing guitar chords from Alanis Morissette songs or jotting down her own compositions. 

She connected with her producer, Mark Ronson, over their shared Anglo-Jewish identity.

Ronson — who would go on to work with other superstar artists such as Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars — also seemed to give her the creative freedom she needed. Amy felt an affinity with him as a Jewish boy from North London and responded well to his quiet manner.

She didn’t feel that Jewish identities were represented enough in theater or music.

She subsequently didn’t think she could be part of those worlds.

From a quote in the book: “When I was a little kid it was my dream to go to drama school, but it was never something I thought would happen to me…I was a Jewish girl from North London and things like that don’t happen to Jewish girls from North London called Amy Winehouse.”

She hoped that girls would see their most difficult experiences represented in her music.

From a quote in the book: “I’m not a girl’s girl. I was never part of a scene where I was the leader of a bunch of Jewish girls that sang jazz. I don’t know anyone like myself. I know that if I’m honest about myself and honest about my time and what I do with my life, I know that there are girls that will hear that and be like: I thought that, I’m not a dickhead. I’ve been through times I’ve been so fucked up about a situation that I’ve had to write everything down, and feelings I’ve had to acknowledge. Someone else might hear that and feel I’m not a mug for feeling those things about this man.”

Even during her grunge rock phase, her mom made her dress like a “normie” for this family bar mitzvah.

(Courtesy of The Amy Winehouse Foundation)

From the book: “Amy went through a teenage grunge phase but whenever she got dressed up she always looked lovely.”

The post 10 Jewish Amy Winehouse moments (and photos) from a new book on her life appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Jordan Reaffirms Commitment to Peace With Israel After Iran Attack, Says Ending Treaty Would Hurt Palestinians

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi attends a press conference after a meeting on the Gaza situation in the government’s representation facility in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 15, 2023. Photo: NTB/Stian Lysberg Solum via REUTERS

Senior Jordanian officials recently reaffirmed the country’s commitment to maintaining peace with Israel, despite protests erupting across Jordan against their treaty amid the ongoing war in Gaza.

Pro-Hamas protesters have been actively campaigning to end the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, which the two countries signed in 1994 to end the state of war that had existed between them for decades and establish diplomatic relations. The treaty followed the signing of the Oslo Accords, a historic agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

However, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al-Safadi said on Sunday that the peace deal was best for not only his country but also the Palestinians.

“The treaty actualized all our rights and served our interests. Revoking it would not be in Jordan’s or the Palestinians’ interest,” Al-Safadi told Jordan’s official news channel Al-Mamlaka in remarks flagged by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). “If we thought even for a moment that revoking it would be in the interest of Jordan or of the Palestinians, we would have done so without hesitation.”

Revoking the peace treaty, he continued, would “harm both Jordan and Palestine and greatly limit our ability to continue fulfilling our main and primary role in providing aid to the Palestinian people … The peace treaty is a source of strength for us and allows us to continue our role of aiding the Palestinian people while protecting our interests.”

Al-Safadi’s comments came one day after Jordan — along with the US, Britain, and France — helped Israel repel an unprecedented direct attack by Iran against the Israeli homeland. Iran fired over 300 drones and missiles at the Jewish state, nearly all of which were shot out of the air. Only one injury was reported in Israel.

The chief diplomat’s defense of the peace treaty also came amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, which has fueled anti-Israel animus across Jordan. Thousands of protesters have been routinely gathering for weeks to lambast Israel, express solidarity with Hamas, and call for an end to the peace treaty. Al-Safadi addressed such opposition in his comments.

“We respect Jordanian public opinion,” he said. “Back in 1994, when [the treaty] was signed, it protected our interests. We regained all our occupied lands, and the treaty enshrined Jordan’s special role in administrating the places holy to Islam and to Christianity in Jerusalem. Were it not for this role, there would have been a vacuum, and Israel would have exploited this to impose its own sovereignty and administration on the holy places rather than granting them to the Palestinians.”

Al-Safadi wasn’t the only official to recently articulate Jordan’s commitment to the peace treaty amid calls to revoke it and mass anti-Israel protests over the Gaza war.

Jordan’s government spokesman, Muhannad Mubaidin, told Sky News Arabia late last month that Hamas was inciting the Jordanian people against their leadership. The Palestinian terrorist group and its supporters in Jordan, he said, were trying “to force Jordan to choose different options,” but “peace is our strategic choice and the peace treaty [with Israel] is what allows us to fulfill our role of easing the pressures on the people in the West Bank.”

MEMRI was first to report Mubaidin’s comments in English.

The post Jordan Reaffirms Commitment to Peace With Israel After Iran Attack, Says Ending Treaty Would Hurt Palestinians first appeared on

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US Stops UN From Recognizing a Palestinian State Through Membership

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks to members of the Security Council during a meeting to address the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, at UN headquarters in New York City, New York, US, April 18, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

The United States on Thursday effectively stopped the United Nations from recognizing a Palestinian state by casting a veto in the Security Council to deny the Palestinian Authority full membership of the world body.

The United States says an independent Palestinian state should be established through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and not through UN action.

It vetoed a draft resolution that recommended to the 193-member UN General Assembly that “the State of Palestine be admitted to membership of the United Nations.” Britain and Switzerland abstained, while the remaining 12 council members voted yes.

The Palestinians are currently a non-member observer state, a recognition that was granted by the UN General Assembly in 2012. But an application to become a full UN member needs to be approved by the Security Council and then at least two-thirds of the General Assembly.

The Palestinian push for full UN membership comes six months into a war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and as Israel is expanding settlements in the West Bank.

“Recent escalations make it even more important to support good-faith efforts to find lasting peace between Israel and a fully independent, viable, and sovereign Palestinian state,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the council earlier on Thursday.

“Failure to make progress towards a two-state solution will only increase volatility and risk for hundreds of millions of people across the region, who will continue to live under the constant threat of violence,” he said.

Israel‘s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said Palestinians failed to meet the criteria to become a full UN member, which he outlined as: a permanent population, defined territory, government, and capacity to enter relations with other states.

“Who is the council voting to ‘recognize’ and give full membership status to? Hamas in Gaza? The Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Nablus? Who?” Erdan asked the Security Council earlier on Thursday.

He said granting full UN membership to Palestinians “will have zero positive impact for any party, that will cause only destruction for years to come, and harm any chance for future dialogue.”

The Palestinian Authority, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank. Hamas ousted the Palestinian Authority from power in Gaza in 2007.

Ziad Abu Amr, special envoy of Abbas, earlier asked the US: “How could this damage the prospects of peace between Palestinians and Israelis? How could this recognition and this membership harm international peace and security?”

“Those who are trying to disrupt and hinder the adoption of such a resolution … are not helping the prospects of peace between Palestinians and Israelis and the prospects for peace in the Middle East in general,” he told the Security Council.

Abu Amr said full Palestinian UN membership was not an alternative for serious political negotiations to implement a two-state solution and resolve pending issues, adding: “However, this resolution will grant hope to the Palestinian people hope for a decent life within an independent state.”

The post US Stops UN From Recognizing a Palestinian State Through Membership first appeared on

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The value of Jews to Canada today: What would the cost be if the community packed up and left?

Jonathan L. Milevsky is an author and educator. Raphi Zaionz is the founder of mygoals Inc. Both live in Toronto, for the moment. (The latter’s children either have left or are planning to leave Canada.) Towards the end of the film Schindler’s List, there’s a scene in which the famous non-Jewish philanthropist, who saved over […]

The post The value of Jews to Canada today: What would the cost be if the community packed up and left? appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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