arts & entertainment
Hallelujah! from page 43
Lyon was the first elected president of
the Canadian Jewish Congress, the co-
founder of the first Anglo-Jewish newspa-
per in North America and the president of
Canada's oldest Conservative synagogue
(as was Lazarus, whose brother Rabbi Tzvi
Hirsch Cohen went on to become the chief
rabbi of Montreal).
Lyon also established a Jewish com-
munity center and sanitarium as well as a
relief agency for victims of the pogroms.
A Zionist leader who visited Palestine, he
helped settle Jews throughout Canada.
Lyon Cohen's son Nathan, also a pil-
lar of Montreal Jewry, died when his son,
Leonard, was 9. Nathan challenged Leonard
intellectually, helping to set him on the path
of a spiritual seeker; with his wife, Marsha,
he made a comfortable Jewish home for
Leonard and his older sister, Esther.
As Leonard Cohen told Kurzweil, "I was
brought up in the Conservative tradition,
which I have the deepest respect for. I'm
a member of my synagogue. I light the
candles Friday night. And I feel very close
to the whole trip."
Cohen recalled an early and profound
connection with Judaism.
"When I read the Psalms, or when they
[lifted] up the Torah, Ttz chayim hi l'mah
chazikim bah: that kind of thing sent a
chill down my back. I wanted to be the one
who lifted up the Torah:' he said. "When
they told me I was a Kohen [of the tribe of
Jewish priests], I believed it. I wanted to
wear white clothes and to go into the Holy
of Holies and to negotiate with the deepest
resources of my soul.
"So I took the whole thing seriously. I
was this little kid, and whatever they told
me in these matters, it resonated:"
Special to the Jewish News
These movies open on Wednesday,
Red Dawn is a remake of the 1984
film of the same name that posited
a Soviet/Cuban invasion of America
that is stymied by a guerilla group
of young Americans. The original
had a lot of well-done action scenes
that resulted in big ticket sales, but
the premise was pretty absurd even
then, and when the internally decayed
Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Red
Dawn seemed even sillier.
But box office is box office, and so
MGM decided to remake the film in
2009 with the Chinese subbing in for
the Soviets; much of the film was shot
in Metro Detroit locations. A planned
2010 opening was delayed by MGM's
financial woes and Chinese protests.
Fearing the loss of the Chinese market,
this past year MGM turned the bad guys
November 22 • 2012
But Cohen found that most of his fellow
Jews didn't share his outlook.
"I had a Jewish education, but it didn't
have the real taste and the real juice he
said, explaining why he and other young
Jews went searching for meaning with
drugs and Eastern spiritual practices like
meditation and yoga.
"I don't think we were able to develop a
meditational system that could seize and
address the deep appetites of our best young
people, the people who really had to have an
experience with the Absolute he said.
While these things were meaningful and
real to him, he found they "had the status
of superstition" in mainstream Jewish life.
But unlike many of his Jewish and
Catholic friends who broke with their
families and faith, Cohen saw value in his
own religion and wished for more.
"I never rebelled again my parents, even
when I was taking acid and living in the
Chelsea Hotel [in New York City]:' he said.
"It never occurred to me once to blame my
family, my city, my religion, my tribe, my
destiny, my position or who they were. I
always thought it was great. I always thought
my family practice was great, and I've tried
to keep it up — in my half-ass way"
Cohen never considered changing his
name, or his nose, always publicly embracing
his heritage and boldly singing on The Future,
"I'm the little Jew who wrote the Bible
Of that line, he said: "You know, [it] was
spontaneous, and I asked myself whether I
wanted to keep it there. But it is the way I
feel. I do feel that this is my position. This
is where I am situated."
Indeed, Cohen often uses imagery from
Jewish scripture and liturgy, notably rework-
into North Koreans in
Peck, 26, best known
for his Nickelodeon
series, Josh and
Drake, co-stars as one
of two brothers who
lead the resistance.
Rise of the
Guardians is a 3-D
animated film that tells a story about
Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the
Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and Jack
Frost. Together they battle an evil spir-
it and reveal previously unknown abili-
ties. The top-notch voice cast includes
Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman and Isla
Fisher, 36, as the
The very fit Fisher
appears on the cover
of the December
2012 issue of the UK
version of Women's
inside she answers
ing the High Holiday's Unetaneh Tokef
prayer in "Who By Fire or lamenting the
sacrifices of war in "The Story of Isaac:' But
he also frequently invokes Christian imagery
and scripture to convey his message.
It may seem ironic for a man so intent
on a particular Jewish mission to do so, but
the reasons likely go beyond being raised
in predominantly Catholic Montreal to
the power of the images and the harm he
ascribes to the belief in Jewish exclusivity.
Cohen found "the exclusive elements, the
nominal elements [of Judaism], seemed to
be emphasized and a kind of scorn for the
nations, for the goyim. A kind of exclusivity
that I found wholly unacceptable.
"A confident people is not exclusive he
explained. "A great religion affirms other
religions. A great culture affirms other cul-
tures. A great nation affirms other nations.
A great individual affirms other individu-
als, validates the being-ness of others and
the vitality. That's the way I feel about this
thing:' he said.
Jew - Bhu
Less than a year after the Kurzeil inter-
view, Cohen deepened his practice of Zen
Buddhism, beginning five years in seclu-
sion at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center near Los
Angeles and being ordained as a Buddhist
monk. But he did not see it as a challenge
to Judaism, as he considers Zen a practice,
not a faith. As he had earlier told Kurzweil,
"There is no conflict because there is no
prayerful worship and there is no discus-
sion of a deity.
"I've inherited an extremely good reli-
gion; I have no reason to change it:' he
said, explaining that just weeks before
the Kurzweil interview, the Hollywood
some questions about her faith. On
converting to Judaism before her mar-
riage to Sacha Baron Cohen, 41: "It
takes a couple of years of studying. I've
always been really into family and food
so culturally it was the right fit for me."
Silver Linings Playbook, a hit at the
Toronto film festival, stars Bradley
Cooper as a guy who has hit rock bot-
tom (he's lost his job, his wife, etc.).
He's just out after a stint in a mental
hospital, living at home with his parents
(Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver) and
trying to reconcile with his ex-wife.
Things get more complicated when
he meets a mysterious young woman
(Jennifer Lawrence) with problems of
The film was direct-
ed by and adapted
for the screen from a
Matthew Quick novel
by David 0. Russell,
54, who is Jewish on
his father's side.
Leonard Cohen and his sister, Esther, on
Belmont Avenue, site of their childhood
home, in Westmount, Montreal
Reporter had identified him as Buddhist,
and that he had sent a letter which the
It stated: "My mother and father of
blessed memory would be very disturbed
to hear me described as a Buddhist. I am
For the complete text of the Kurzweil
interview, visit: www.leonardcohenfiles.
Leonard Cohen performs 8
p.m. Monday, Nov. 26, at the
Fox Theatre in Detroit. $49.50-
$253.50. (800) 745-3000; www.
Old - Guy News
Mel Brooks, 86, recently gave a
wonderfully funny and informative
online-only interview to the New
Yorker in conjunction with the
release of his new boxed set, The
Incredible Mel Brooks: An Irresistible
Collection of Unhinged Comedy,
which assembles odds and ends
from his career, including classic
interviews with Dick Cavett and
Herman Wouk, 97, has a new novel
out, The Lawgiver, about a fictional
group of modern-day Hollywood
people making a movie about Moses.
In a recent New York Times profile,
that people would
think it remarkable
that he would
include such modern
touches as text
messages and Skype