Poet and Prophet Leonard Cohen

Although an ordained Buddhist monk, Cohen is adamant that he remains a Jew first and foremost.

Leonard Cohen has been described as a holy man, a poet, a sage, and a prophet. Bob Dylan was described his songs as prayers.

Join us for an evening of music and conversation at Nissi’s focused on the extraordinary Canadian singer-songwriter whose longevity and impact are rivaled only by Dylan. A serious poet before he turned to the art of fusing provocative lyrics with poignant melodies, Cohen has mined Judaism to produce the most overtly Jewish songs created by any popular artist: “Who By Fire” and “Hallelujah” chief among them.

Rabbi Marc Soloway will conduct a conversation analyzing several of these songs and examining their Jewish context and their relationship to Jewish values and tradition. Kathryn Bernheimer will share biographical information about the 81-year old legend – a singer, songwriter, musician, painter, poet, novelist and ordained Buddhist monk – whose haunting work has explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, romance, remorse and personal freedom.

Bob Dylan described Cohen’s songs as prayers.

Today, Cohen still receives the sort of reverence we reserve for a precious few living artists. Why are his songs suddenly gracing the charts blockbuster movie soundtracks and television singing competitions three or four decades after their original release? And why is it that well most of his contemporaries are either long dead or engaged in uninspiring reunion tours, while Cohen is at the peak of his powers and popularity? To cite but one example, in 2008, “Hallelujah” had three covers all in the top 50 – including the “Shrek” soundtrack.

young cohen
Cohen was already in his 30s when he turned his talents to songwriting.

In his book, “A Broken Hallelujah,” author Lyle Leibowitz focuses on the secret of Cohen’s longevity:

“You feel the same at a Cohen concert that you do in a church or a synagogue, a feeling that emanates from the realization that the words and the tunes you’re about to hear represent the best efforts we humans can make to capture the mysteries that surround us, and that by listening and closing your eyes and singing along you too can somehow transcend…He’s the sort of man whose pores absorb the particles of beauty and grace and truth that float weightlessly all around us yet so few of us a note. He is attuned to the divine, whatever the divine might be, with the unburdened heart of a believer. It’s not for nothing that he referred to himself in song as ‘the little Jew who wrote the Bible.’”

cohen 2014
Cohen describes himself as a kid with a dream – at 81.

For tickets click here.


With Rabbi Marc Soloway and Kathryn Bernheimer

Tuesday, February 9

Program starts at 7:00 pm; Doors open at 6:00 pm

$18 for tickets; Complete menu available for purchase

At Nissis, 2675 Northpark Drive, Lafayette


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About Kathryn Bernheimer

Founding Director of the Boulder Jewish Film Festival, Boulder JCC. The former film and theater critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, Kathryn is the author of "The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies" and "The Fifty Funniest Films of All Time." She was also Director of Menorah and ACE at the J from 2003 through August, 2019.

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