Matching family tree profiles for Leonard Norman Cohen
About Leonard Norman Cohen
Leonard Norman Cohen, CC GOQ (born 21 September 1934) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet, and novelist. His work often explores religion, isolation, sexuality, and interpersonal relationships. Cohen has been inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is also a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honour.
While giving the speech at Cohen's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 10 March 2008, Lou Reed described Cohen as belonging to the "highest and most influential echelon of songwriters."
The critic Bruce Eder wrote an assessment of Cohen's overall career in popular music, writing,
"[Cohen is] one of the most fascinating and enigmatic. . .singer/songwriters of the late '60s. . . [and] has retained an audience across four decades of music-making. . . Second only to Bob Dylan (and perhaps Paul Simon) [in terms of influence], he commands the attention of critics and younger musicians more firmly than any other musical figure from the 1960s who is still working at the outset of the 21st century."
The Academy of American Poets has commented more broadly on Cohen's overall career in the arts, including his work as a poet, novelist, and songwriter, stating that "[Cohen's] successful blending of poetry, fiction, and music is made most clear in Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs, published in 1993, which gathered more than two hundred of Cohen's poems . . .several novel excerpts, and almost sixty song lyrics. . .While it may seem to some that Leonard Cohen departed from the literary in pursuit of the musical, his fans continue to embrace him as a Renaissance man who straddles the elusive artistic borderlines."
- Zvi Hirsch Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Canada, Great Grand Uncle,
Cohen was born on 21 September 1934 in Westmount, an English-speaking area of Montreal, Quebec, into a middle-class Jewish family. His mother, Marsha (Masha) Klonitsky, was the daughter of a Talmudic writer, Rabbi Solomon Klonitsky-Kline of Lithuanian Jewish ancestry.
His paternal grandfather, whose family had emigrated from Poland, was Lyon Cohen, founding president of the Canadian Jewish Congress. His father, Nathan Cohen, who owned a substantial clothing store, died when Cohen was nine years old. On the topic of being a Kohen, Cohen has said that, "I had a very Messianic childhood." He told Richard Goldstein in 1967, "I was told I was a descendant of Aaron, the high priest.
Both grandfathers were distinguished. His mother’s father, "Rabbi Solomon Klonitsky-Kline" was known as "Sar HaDikduki", the Prince of Grammarians. And he wrote a thesaurus of Talmudic interpretation and a dictionary of synonyms and homonyms. They were used in institutions of higher learning until Israel took over the grammatical institution. People travelled long distances to hear him speak. He was the principal of a yeshiva in Kovno, a disciple of Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan and, in fact closed his teacher's eyes when his teacher died.
He had a very strong secular side to him. He rode, for instance. He liked to ride horses. He was a kind of confrontational teacher, especially when he got to New York, where he ended up. He came first to Atlanta, where his daughter married into the Alexander family of Georgia, who were Jews who arrived in 1708, and he originally moved to Atlanta.
But there was nothing there for him in Atlanta, so he moved to New York and he became part of the Forward and that group of Yiddish writers although didn't contribute to any of the newspapers. But he kept on with his grammatical and Talmudic studies.
"My other grandfather, Rabbi Lyon Cohen, was also a very distinguished man who helped found many of the institutions that defined Jewish life in Canada. He was a vice president of the first Zionist organization in Canada. He made a trip to the Holy Land.
It was a very interesting journey. He met Baron de Hirsch and he planned and helped establish, for Canada, the Jewish Colonization Association,w hich was to settle Jewish refugees in the prairie provinces and on farms.
He was the founder of the first Anglo Jewish newspaper in North America. It was called the Jewish Times, published in Montreal. He was also one of the founders of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Montreal. Also was was one of the organizers of the Baron de Hirsch Foundation, B'nai B'rith, the Jewish General Hospital and the Hebrew Free Loan Association." Source
Cohen describes himself as an observant Jew who keeps the Sabbath even while on tour. But he also practices Buddhism, something he has been involved with since the 1970s. In 1996, he was ordained a Buddhist monk, however, he is still religiously Jewish. “I’m not looking for a new religion,” he has said. “I’m quite happy with the old one, with Judaism.” Source