Tonight at sundown the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah begins… We say L’Shana Tovah… for a good year…
To those who celebrate and those who do not, may you all have a happy, healthy New Year filled with joy and bliss and good health. May we all have a good year.
I am Jewish. I am proud of this fact. Being Jewish is part of my identity, but it is not solely who I am. We are all individuals, with our own thoughts and feelings and ideas… and things will be right with the world, when we learn to cherish and love and respect those differences. The reason I am proud to be Jewish, is that it has encouraged me to learn as much as I can about other religions and beliefs… to respect and honor them. To tolerate is not enough… We must go way beyond that.
Leonard Cohen is Jewish, but I do not know if he even practices… Most of his spirituality seems to come from Buddhism, another religion I deeply respect and often turn to for guidance and ideas. Yet, there is a biblical depth to his lyrics… an Old Testament notion, not just in the literal. He is and should be considered one of the greatest songwriters of all time.
Leonard Cohen – Live in London
Finding an album was hard… There are so many worth listening to… his debut Songs of Leonard Cohen… 1971’a Songs of Love and Hate… the variety of collections… His music is remarkable and prolific.
The reason I picked this one, first and foremost, is that it amazing. I did not see him on this last tour, so yes, there is yet one more regret for the pile that is growing way too big. I cannot keep skipping these shows! By all accounts and by video evidence (rent or buy the DVD of this show!!!), this was the tour to see.
His voice is not pretty… at least not in the “traditional” sense of the word… but it has traveled the world and been through more journeys than I can imagine… the Israeli Air Force… years in a Zen Buddhist Monastery… bankruptcy… and an eternal spiritual yearning…
I first heard him when I walked into the house of Rabbi Steven Leder… over 20 years ago… wow! The modern art on the wall and Leonard Cohen filling the room told me pretty quickly that this was not my Daddy’s Rabbi! His voice instantly grabbed me… or maybe shocked me… but as I began to listen, and in the subsequent years, it became a thing of beauty and poetry.
“Dance Me to the End of Love,” “Who By Fire” and of course “Bird on a Wire,” “Tower of Song,” “Suzanne,” “Sisters of Mercy” and the ubiquitous, omnipresent and eternally gorgeous “Hallelujah” are all glorious gems. He meditates on war and depression, but most thoughtfully and thoroughly on love.
His wit is self-deprecating and insightful, his lyrics cut like a sacrificial blade and his music moves me like no other. He sneaks up on you and grabs you and will hold you ’til the end of time. His music satisfies me, yet makes me yearn… It makes me want to grow and explore… It is what music should and could be!
Being Jewish, to me, means reaching out to the worldwide community and helping wherever and whenever I can… being there for family and friends, of course, but being there for the people in Darfur or the Congo or in a shelter in LA… Groups like the Jewish World Watch and my own Congregation Or Ami and their community service programs are so generous and so vital and so alive. They are music in action… love and spirituality set in motion.
This is what Leonard Cohen’s music is and what the world can be…
So let us all take to heart the new beginning… and truly make it a happy, healthy, joyous New Year for us and the world… Hallelujah!