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Islamist Sinead O'Connor was interested in Judaism and attended Kabbalah classes

Screenshot from Sinead O'Connor's controversial appearance on Saturday Night Live when she ripped up a photo of the Pope while donning a Jewish hexagram.

Aug. 1, 2023

Sinead O'Connor, the celebrated Irish singer-songwriter who died on July 26 in London at the age of 56, wrote in her memoir published last year that she had a "Jewish period" in her life when she was interested in Judaism, the journalist writes " The Algemeiner" Shirin Germezyan.

The O'Connor family released a statement to Ireland's RTE on July 26 confirming the singer's death. “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinead,” the statement said. "Her family and friends are devastated and are asking for privacy during this very difficult time." The cause of death was not given, but the London Metropolitan Police said in a statement that she was pronounced dead at the scene after officers were called to her South London address on Wednesday. She left three children. Her 17-year-old son Neviim Nesta Ali Shane O'Connor committed suicide in 2022. Nevi'im means "prophets" in Hebrew.

The eight-time Grammy nominee, who was born Catholic but announced in 2018 that she converted to Islam, included a chapter in her 2022 memoir Reminiscences titled "Sheviti Adonai L'negdi Tamid," which is a passage in Hebrew, taken from the Book of Tehilim, which translates as "I always put God before me." “I tried to take lessons in the Jewish understanding of Scripture. But no one took me because I am not Jewish,” she wrote in her memoirs, according to the Jewish Chronicle.

O'Connor, best known for her cover of Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U", added that she ended up taking Kabbalah classes with a "very kind teacher" named Zev Ben Shimon Halevi.

Sinead Marie Bernadette O'Connor was born on December 8, 1966 in Dublin, Ireland. She was one of five children and spoke openly about her mother's physical abuse. O'Connor has openly discussed her struggles with addiction and mental health issues, suicidal thoughts, and admitted in 2007 that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She released her first album, The Lion And The Cobra, in 1987, followed by 1990's I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got. Her version of "Nothing Compares 2 U" earned her several Grammy nominations, as well as MTV Video of the Year and Best Postmodern Video. In 1991, she was named Artist of the Year by Rolling Stone magazine.

During her career, she recorded 10 solo albums. In her memoirs, the singer praised the Jewish musician Bob Dylan, writing that “his voice is like a blanket. He is as beautiful as if G-d blew from Lebanon and it became a man,” reports the Jewish Chronicle. O'Connor performed at Dylan's 30th birthday concert but was booed on stage. The concert comes just 13 days after she tore apart a photo of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live in 1992 to protest the Catholic Church's stance on clergy sexual abuse. Because of this action, she was banned from NBC programming for life.

She later became a priest in an independent Catholic church, and in October 2018 announced that she had converted to Islam and changed her name to Shuhada Dawitt. O'Connor dedicated her 1997 album "Gospel Oak" to the people of "Israel, Rwanda and Northern Ireland". In her memoirs, she said that the album was named after a district in England that she visited six days a week to see her Jewish psychiatrist. According to the Jewish Chronicle, she was "madly in love with him in many ways." She performed in Israel in 1995 and was due to perform again in the summer of 1997 at a peace concert organized by Israeli and Palestinian women's organizations who wanted to advertise Jerusalem as the capital of both nations. However, she canceled her concert after receiving death threats from extremists.

Itamar Ben Gvir, now Israel's security minister, was at the time an activist in the Ideological Front, an offshoot of the extremist Kahanist movement, according to The Associated Press. He told Israeli Radio at the time that his efforts resulted in O'Connor canceling her concert and remarked, "Because of us, she won't be coming. We're talking about the pressure we're putting on her to not succeed." Furious at his comments, O'Connor sent a letter to the AP and other media addressed to Ben Gvir. “God does not reward those who terrify the children of the world. So you have not succeeded in anything except the failure of your soul, ”she wrote in a letter. She added: “I have always had the most passionate love for the Jewish people” and asked: “How can there be peace anywhere on Earth, if there is no peace in Jerusalem?” Ben-Gvir's office on July 27 denied that he had ever threatened O'Connor, AP reported. O'Connor wanted to cancel her concert in Israel in 2014 after what she described as a request from the "Palestinian people" not to perform in the country.