Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Leonard Cohen: Observant Jew?

From an interview with him on the occasion of his new tour:

The day after his first American concert in more than 15 years, Leonard Cohen sat in a Manhattan hotel suite warily submitting to an interviewer’s questions, including one about the music in his laptop’s iTunes. In response, he played a klezmer-style Hebrew hymn, then followed it by singing along with one of George Jones’s weepy country morality tales...Religious devotion weighs heavily in both music and life for Mr. Cohen, and it takes many forms...

...About the meaning of those songs, Mr. Cohen is diffident and elusive. Many are, he acknowledges, “muffled prayers,” but beyond that he is not eager to reveal much.

“It’s difficult to do the commentary on the prayer,” he said. “I’m not a Talmudist, I’m more the little Jew who wrote the Bible,” a reference to a line in “The Future,” a song he released in 1992. “I feel it doesn’t serve the enterprise to really examine it from outside the moment.”

...Jennifer Warnes...said: “He has investigated a lot of deities and read all the sacred books, trying to understand in some way who wrote them as much as the subject matter itself. It’s for his own healing that he reaches for those places. If he has one great love, it is his search for God.”

Mr. Cohen is an observant Jew who keeps the Sabbath even while on tour



and performed for Israeli troops during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. So how does he square that faith with his continued practice of Zen?

“Allen Ginsberg asked me the same question many years ago,” he said. “Well, for one thing, in the tradition of Zen that I’ve practiced, there is no prayerful worship and there is no affirmation of a deity. So theologically there is no challenge to any Jewish belief.”


Well, I have no problems with that.

7 comments:

Manya Shochet said...

Man, I love Leonard Cohen. He's a real poet, a philosopher. He's not my rav though, even though he still includes himself as Jewish.

Remember, he wrote a book of poetry called "Let Us Compare Mythologies". A lot of his use of Christian imagery is on that level. Besides, he's obviously a yireh shamayim. Look at that suit.

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked.

Manya Shochet said...

Cohen's father sold men's formal wear, so he basically grew up dressed that way. Claims he has always felt more comfortable in a suit and tie than in jeans.

The major theological question that demands an answer is why the formal attire of 1940s businessmen has been canonized as today's frum uniform. Perhaps 1940s businessmen had secret merits of which we are unaware?

Rob said...

When non-Jews say some Jewish celeb "keeps the Sabbath" or is "observant" they don't know what they're talking about. They have no idea of the restrictions to one's lifestyle if one is seriously "observant" and shomer Shabat.

What I want to know is whether, like Dylan, Cohen somehow overcame his "universalist" posing and slyly found a nice Jewish girl with whom to procreate ? My Google searches on the mother of his two children, artist Suzanne Elrod, is Jewish have so far proved fruitless.

Rob said...

edit: I meant to say on *whether* the mother of his two children is Jewish ...

wangzi said...

All Breitling Watch now posses the COSC (Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute) designation. In order to have this designation, Navitimer Watches had to pass rigorous testing procedures to prove that Navitimer World are able to compete with the best of the best. Montbrillant Datora are not only stylish and attractive; they are also some of the highest quality watches that money can buy.

Coach Purses will continue to grown in sales with it's introduction of the new "Scribble" pattern, the "Scarf" pattern, and my personal favorite, the Coach Madison pattern. If you are looking for a timeless classic Coach Luggage or something new, just check out Coach Legacy for the best of both worlds.

While these do not bear the tattoo inspired Ed Hardy clothing on the outer portion of the hardy shirt , they can be found on the foot bed as well as the outsole. As all designs and style, these have the famous ED Hardy Shoes signature placed in a rather subtle way on the outer toe area. If one word could sum these up, hardy shirts would be "Wow!"

Leonard Cohen said...

Mr. Cohen is an observant Jew who keeps the Sabbath even while on tour. Great stuff!