Lenny Kravitz Opens Up About Close Relationship With Jewish Grandparents in New Memoir
Musician Lenny Kravitz shared the many memories he had of his Jewish grandparents and how they impacted his life in his new memoir “Let Love Rule.”
The Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter spent time with his paternal grandparents, Joe and Jean Kravitz, in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and said it represented “yet another universe, Old World energy: kosher butchers, delis, synagogues,” according to The Forward, which quoted excerpts from Kravitz’s memoir.
The “Fly Away” singer, who was born Leonard “Lennie” Albert Kravitz, said he remembered his Grandpa Joe wearing a “gold chain with a chai,” and wrote “he was in the shmata business.”
Joe dreamed of becoming an entertainer and “unconsciously, I think he nudged me toward his deferred dream,” said Kravitz. “He was the first person to put a microphone in my hand. He taught me songs from ‘Carousel’ and ‘South Pacific.’ I picked up the vibe and jumped right in.”
Grandma Jean on the other hand taught the musician a Russian card game called durak. Lenny wrote, “We’d play for hours while I devoured her chopped liver on matzo.”
Later he added, “When I became an adult … and started watching Woody Allen movies, I recognized my family on the screen. That was the Jewish humor that raised me.”
Lenny also recalled wanting a bar mitzvah, saying, “That’s when I learned that yarmulkes weren’t made for Afros; I couldn’t get the thing to stay on my head!”
He started attending religious school to prepare for the bar mitzvah ceremony, but recalled, “[A]s the only Black kid in Hebrew school, I felt a little out of place.” He backed away from his learning and never had a bar mitzvah.
“But that didn’t keep me away from Jewish tradition,” he noted. “Grandma Jean and Grandpa Joe always had us over for the holidays. I remember one Hanukkah celebration at a big social hall on Long Island. My cousins and I got ahold of a bottle of Manischewitz, snuck into a corner, and finished it off.”
He got so sick that, he claimed, “I have never been drunk since.”
After Joe died, Jean left Sheepshead Bay and moved to Los Angeles, where she lived in the heavily-Jewish Fairfax District.
In his memoir, Lenny talked about taking one of his first girlfriends, Jane Greenberg, on dates to the local kosher Bagel Nosh.