Today, was Yom Ha'Kippurim, a day spent in Shul and away from the wider world of the goyim, (and any world news or events!) And tomorrow is in Rembrance of the Yom Kippur War Dead of 1973, and I shall definitely want to comment on that. So, it seems somehow appropriate to post this tonight ~ I have wanted to acknowledge, or at least mention since last Shabbat that it was musician, poet, author, auteur & Jew, Leonard Cohen's birthday then. He turned 78.
And Aryeh Leib Ha'Cohen is Jew of some level of Observance at least. Tainted perhaps by his fame & notriety. Nevertheless, he is a Jew.
In Tel Aviv, Israel, on 24th September, 2009 three days after Cohen's 75th birthday, at Ramat Gan Stadium, Cohen's first performance in Israel since 1980, sold out in less than 24 hours. It was announced that the proceeds from the sale of the 47,000 tickets would go into a charitable fund in partnership with Amnesty International and would be used by Israeli 'Peace' groups for projects providing health services to children and families of those killed in the 'conflict'. Not a Strategy I would endorse at all. However, Amnesty International withdrew from any involvement with the concert and its proceeds and boycotted Cohen. Amnesty International later stated that its withdrawal was not due to such boycott but The palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) led the call for the boycott, claiming that Cohen was "intent on whitewashing Israel's colonial apartheid regime by performing in Israel." WTG Sir!!!!!
On 24th September at the Ramat Gan concert, as a result of this furore, Cohen was highly emotional about the Israeli organisation 'Bereaved Families for Peace'. Again, not what I would endorse personally, but he demonstrates Ahavat Yisrael for sure. He mentioned the organization twice, saying "It was a while ago that I first heard of the work of the 'Bereaved Parents for Peace'. That there was this coalition of palestinian and Israeli families who had lost so much in the conflict and whose depth of suffering had compelled them to reach across the border into the houses of the enemy. Into the houses of those, to locate them who had suffered as much as they had, and then to stand with them in aching confraternity, a witness to an understanding that is beyond peace and that is beyond confrontation. So, this is not about forgiving and forgetting, this is not about laying down one's arms in a time of war, this is not even about peace, although, G*d willing, it could be a beginning. This is about a response to human grief. A radical, unique and holy, holy, holy response to human suffering. Baruch Ha'Shem, thank G*d, I bow my head in respect to the nobility of this enterprise."
At the end of the show he issued the crowd a Bracha, the 'Birkat Kohanim' in fact ...... although 'iffy' to do at his concert. He is supposedly Shomer Shabbos though, and definitely does not play on Yom Kippur! And in fact his maternal grandfather is the noted Talmudic scholar, 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. Not only does he remember his 'roots' and foundation, but his writings (aside from the hippy dippy content in the 60's & 70's) reflect his Judaism, if not his traditional Jewishness. He has written extraordinary poetry, fiction and lyrics ~ he wrote a musical favourite of mine, the now infamous 'Halleluiah', although I admit to Jeff Buckley's version blowing his right out of the water. Retired and Revamped his career after a management rip off. I have respect for Leonard Cohen and his work right accross the spectrum. Yom Huledat Same'ach!!!!!
I could extend this blog muchly ..... but I'm tired. So it's just a comment in passing. Ships in the night, Social impact of his Songs notwithstanding!
Sometimes I still waken to the sultry strains of 'Suzanne' on Sunday mornings in the Galus, laziness suppressing a smile as I stretch into the luzury of a leisurely 'lie in' or sip Lemon tea on a Sunny Sunday. It 's an ipod Staple. And it was written & recorded right at the start of his career ... in 1967. Timeless. Like the Man himself!
"If it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before
I will speak no more
I shall abide until
I am spoken for
If it be your will.
If it be your will
That a voice be true
From this broken hill
I will sing to you
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing ..... "