For other photos of Leonard Cohen’s father, go to Nathan Cohen.
Credit Due Department: Thanks to Maarten Massa for access to these images
Note: Originally posted Oct 19, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
This clipping is remarkable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is how it ended up in this post. When Leonard Cohen learned that my DrHGuy.com and 1HeckOfAGuy.com sites had been shut down, he responded not only with empathic words (e.g., quoting The Life Of Riley catchphrase, “What a revoltin’ development this is,” which precisely captured my own sense of the situation) but also with a spontaneous offer of photos and other graphics from his personal stash for my new site. True to his word, I received a set of images for posting here. Among them was this clipping, which I had never seen before, featuring his father, Nathan Cohen (fourth from the right in the photo), and his grandfather, Lyon Cohen (fifth from the right), at the conclusion of a fishing expedition at Old Orchard Beach, Maine. As I’ve previously pointed out,
Leonard Cohen is the most fervently
gracious person on the planet.
Thank you, Leonard.
Nathan and Lyon Cohen
This is the only photo I recall seeing of Leonard Cohen’s father, Nathan, as a youngster. It is also the only photo I’ve seen of Leonard Cohen’s grandfather, Lyon, in an informal setting.1 Given the apparel worn by these gents on a fishing trip, it appears that Leonard Cohen wasn’t the only family member born in a suit. Brief biographical sketches follow. Nathan Bernard Cohen, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Lyon Cohen, was born Dec 1, 1891 and died Jan. 13, 1944 at age 52. His son, Leonard Cohen was nine years old at the time of his father’s death.
Nathan Cohen, Leonard’s father, was a prosperous Canadian Jew with a high-end clothing business. The Freedman Company was known for its formal wear, and Nathan liked to dress formally, even on informal occasions. In suits, as in houses, he favoured the formal English style, which he wore with spats and tempered with a boutonniere and, when his bad health made it necessary, with a silver cane. Masha Cohen, Leonard’s mother, was sixteen years younger than her husband, a Russian Jew, a rabbi’s daughter and a recent immigrant to Canada. She and Nathan had married not long after her arrival in Montreal in 1927. Two years later, she gave birth to the first of their two children, Leonard’s sister, Esther.2
Lyon Cohen (born May 11, 1867; died 1937), Leonard Cohen’s paternal grandfather, was the eldest son of Lazarus Cohen, who came to Canada from Lithuania in 1869, and the father of four children, the oldest of whom, Nathan Bernard Cohen, was the father of Leonard Cohen.
Born in 1868, Lyon Cohen was a businessman and a philanthropist. He was a co-founder of the Canadian Jewish Times, the first Anglo-Jewish periodical in Canada; treasurer of the Montreal Reform Club; former President of Jewish Colonization Association in Canada, Baron de Hirsch Institute, Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, Canadian Jewish Congress 1919, Montreal Va’ad Ha’ir; organized Jewish Immigrant Aid Services of Canada. He died in 1937.3
Old Orchard Beach, Maine