Is Leonard Cohen Jewish?

Leonard Cohen was Jewish. The late songwriter was most famous for writing and performing Hallelujah.

Leonard Cohen was born September 21, 1934 and died November 7, 2016. He was a Canadian singer, songwriter, poet and novelist. His work explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships.

Cohen was born on September 21, 1934 in Westmount, Quebec, an English-speaking area of Montreal, into a middle-class Jewish family. His mother, Marsha (Masha) 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. His father, Nathan Cohen, who owned a substantial clothing store, died when Cohen was nine years old.

The family observed Orthodox Judaism, and were members of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim; Cohen retained connections to it all his life. On the topic of being a Kohen, Cohen has said that "I had a very Messianic childhood." He told Richard Goldstein in 1967, "I was told I was a descendant of Aaron, the high priest."

Cohen attended Roslyn Elementary School and Herzliah High School, where his literary mentor Irving Layton was a teacher, and, from 1948, Westmount High School, where he was involved with the student council and studied music and poetry.

Cohen was described as a Sabbath-observant Jew in an article in The New York Times. Cohen was involved with Buddhism beginning in the 1970s and was ordained a Buddhist monk in 1996; he continued to consider himself Jewish: "I'm not looking for a new religion. I'm quite happy with the old one, with Judaism."

Leonard Cohen was inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honour. In 2011, Cohen received one of the Prince of Asturias Awards for literature and the ninth Glenn Gould Prize.

Cohen died on November 7, 2016 at the age of 82 at his home in Los Angeles; cancer was a contributing cause. His death was announced on November 10. His funeral was held on November 10, 2016 in Montreal, at a cemetery on Mount Royal, his congregation Shaar Hashomayim confirmed. As was his wish, Cohen was laid to rest with a Jewish rite in a family plot.

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