Leonard Cohen was born into a distinguished Jewish family of priests (kohen).1 According to Leonard Cohen himself
I had a very Messianic childhood. I was told I was a descendant of Aaron, the high priest.2
Indeed, he has repeatedly and emphatically identified himself as a Jew and closed his 2009 Tel Aviv concert with the Priestley Blessing.
Leonard Cohen – Closing and Blessings (Tel Aviv Sept 24, 2009)
Video by PetSounds69
He nonetheless speaks well of Jesus:
I’m very fond of Jesus Christ. He may be the most beautiful guy who walked the face of this earth. Any guy who says “Blessed are the poor. Blessed are the meek” has got to be a figure of unparallelled generosity and insight and madness…A man who declared himself to stand among the thieves, the prostitutes and the homeless. His position cannot be comprehended. It is an inhuman generosity. A generosity that would overthrow the world if it was embraced because nothing would weather that compassion.3
Leonard Cohen has also displayed an affinity for Roman Catholic perspective, which pervaded the culture of his native Montreal, often utilizing its imagery into his work, e.g., the lyrics in Suzanne reference the chapel of the church overlooking the entry to Montreal, Our Lady Of The Harbour.
Now Suzanne takes your hand
And she leads you to the river
She is wearing rags and feathers
From Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbour
In addition, Leonard Cohen has been ordained a Zen Buddhist monk, awarded a Senior Dianetic, Grade IV Release Scientology certificate, studied Hinduism with a guru in India and chanted the Hare Krisna mantra,
Montreal – 1993
Video by musicloveraustria2
Credit Due Department: Photos of Our Lady Of The Harbour by Sally Hunter.
- “His mother, Marsha Klonitsky, was the daughter of a Talmudic writer, 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.” Source: At 80, singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish roots ‘very much intact’ by Robert Gluck. JNS.org: May 15, 2015 [↩]
- Beautiful Creep by Richard Goldstein. Village Voice: Dec 28, 1967 [↩]
- Leonard Cohen (1988), from ”Leonard Cohen in His Own Words” by Jim Devlin [↩]