Jewish 100: Leonard Cohen – Arts
“The poet laureate of pessimism,” as some refer to him, has been churning out hit songs since the 1960s. A descendant of a long line of rabbis, he grew up religious in Montreal and never really stopped being observant. Some of his most famous songs, which are also some of the most popular ever written, incorporate Hebrew and Jewish imagery into them. Think “Hallelujah,” which evokes King David, or “Who by Fire”, the words and melody of which echo the U’netaneh Tokef prayer, an 11th-century liturgical poem recited on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Following the Six day War, Cohen flew to Israel to sing for troops, saying, “I’ve never disguised the fact that I’m Jewish, and in any crisis in Israel I would be there. I am committed to the survival of the Jewish people.” Nearing his 80s he still continues to tour, and continues to be committed to his Jewish roots and espousing their powerful messages.