This has been a very difficult week in many different ways as parents as Jews as citizens of the world. This has been a week in which many young people have lost their lives and that is not the way it is meant to be.

We all know life is short and we therefore all need to make the most of it as we never know what lies around the corner. In an ideal world we will all pass on to the next world at a very ripe old age - even that is sad for those left behind but what we have seen this week with the massacre in Norway and the very sad death of Amy Winehouse has created a number of issues for deep though in us all.

The tragedy of death in people so young - younger than us all is the nightmare of every parent and something that we all fear more than anything else. It is against the natural order of things but sadly all too common.

It is too easy to say that Amy contributed to her own death by taking drink and drugs - far too easy and far too trite. Her success and it was a fantastic success does provide a pressure few can comprehend and no one has not been there should criticise at this difficult time. Her parents will be going through every emotion -

  • They will think what more could have been done?
  • How could this happen to our daughter?
  • Was it all worth it?
  • Why?
  • How could G-d allow this to happen and many, many other thoughts.

Those emotions are, if anything, multiplied by those felt by parents in Norway who sent their children to summer camps only to see them massacred.

Why? How could it happen? Will Norway ever feel the same way again? They perhaps felt that security was not the priority because who would want to kill so many young people on a summer camp. It has been said that in the US and even here in the UK the massacre would have been much smaller because of greater police experience and greater access to weapons the assailant would have been killed or captured much earlier. That, of course, can be seen as a good thing and a sad one.

That people would try to blame Israel for this massacre by a right wing extremist perhaps shows how low section of the press and pro Palestinians will go - you may be asking - are there any depths they will not plunge - sadly the answer is no there are not.

I always find press invasion into Jewish burial practices cringeing. A lack of understanding and proper briefing is sad as well as odd and frankly must be intentional given the continual inaccuracies..

First they say that Amy will be buried under Orthodox practice then they realise that may not be the case as Orthodox practice forbids cremation. This does raise a focus onto Jewish burial practices which we rarely see and has also made me think about broader anti-Semitism.

In these days of mass information internet sites, 24 hour news and so much written information about absolutely everything is there any excuse for newspapers publishing wrong and inaccurate information.

How much information we read can we believe - can we believe anything at all or is everything written with agenda and hidden motives?

Is it accidentally wrong or deliberate. Is information put into the public domain deliberately to mislead and to confuse perhaps to make people think that these practices are somehow odd or bizarre and by extention that only odd people do odd things.

In this difficult week I pray that everyone involved around Amy Winehouse’s parents and the many families in Norway who have lost children will find peace.

Shabbat Shalom.

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