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May 4, 2018     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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May 4, 2018

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PAGE 14A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 4, 2018 pilg " Ben Harris Leonard Cohen's grave, next to three generations ofhis family, in the Congregation Shaar Hashomayim cemetery in Montreal. A photograph of Leonard Cohen, front right, from his 1949 Hebrew hangs in a foyer at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Montreal. Ben Harris school graduation By Ben Harris roses scattered on the ground are signs of recent visitors, MONTREAL (JTA)--Just and an overflowing mound of inside the gate of the Shaar stones on top, inkeepingwith Hashomayim synagogue off theJewishcustom, isevidence Boulevard du Mont Royal, of many more. a gravestone bears an un- The footstone is engraved usualStarofDavid, thesharp in Hebrew with the name angles ofitstwoopposingtri- of the deceased, Eliezer the angles--one reaching heav- son of Nissan HaKohen. And enward, the other aimed at beneath that, the name by the earth--softened into the which he is known to the shape of hearts. A dozen red world: Leonard Cohen. 584173692 316259784 297846153 458791326 931682547 672534819 743918265 869325471 125467938 Thelegendarysinger, song- there smile shadowed by his nearly obsolete choral tradi- writer, poet and novelist was trademark fedora and hand tiononceprevalentinEurope. interred here in a private held over heart, towers over It was that sound that Cohen ceremony in 2016, just hours Crescent Street in the heart of sought out for "You Want It beforehisfamilywouldinform downtown.Anothernine-story Darker," which features Zeler- the world that he had died muralofCohenwascompleted myerandthesynagoguechoir days earlier, at the age of 82, last year. And in November, a providing backing vocals. at his home in Los Angeles. star-studded tribute concert But Cohen'sconnectionsto Though Cohen had been suf- at the city's Belle Centre fea- the affluent Montreal Jewish fering from cancer and knew tured appearances by Sting, community of his youth was hisdeathwaslooming, hedied Elvis Costello, Seth Rogen neverwithoutcomplications. peacefully inhis sleepafter a and Prime Minister Justin He fled the city's confines nighttime fall. His grave is in Trudeau. earlyandoften--firsttostudy the family plot beside three The Montreal Jewish com- literature at Columbia, then generations of his forebears, munity that nurtured Cohen to the Greek island Hydra, "He came into theworld a in his early years has not and eventually to Southern Montreal Jew and he left the been overlooked in the Cohen California, where he lived in world a Montreal Jew," said surge. For a while, media in- a Zen monastery for years. Gideon Zelermyer, the cantor terest in Shaar Hashomayim Montrealwas aplace towhich at Shaar Hashomayim, who was sointensethatthe leader- he returned occasionally "to presided over the burial with ship had to issue a statement renew my neurotic affilia- the synagogue's rabbi, asking people to stay away. tions," he once wrote. It's little surprise that Inquiring at the city's Jew- Liel Leibovitz, author of a a steady stream of visitors ish institutions today inspires 2014 book exploring Cohen's continues to make its way to knowing smiles from people artistic evolution, pc ints to Cohen's gravesite more than who have grown accustomed a 1964 speech that Cohen a year after his death. Already to fieldingquestionsaboutCo- delivered to a symposium at well into his 70s, the singer hen."At least the third today," the Montreal Jewish Library achieved something rare in saidanofficialatthecemetery as the moment he found popularmusic--alate-career when avisitor asked for direc- his prophetic voice. In the renaissance. It included five tions to Cohen's grave,speech, which Leibovitz re- years of worldwide touring, Cohen first encounteredconstructed fromnotesfound hundreds of sold-out shows the biblical metaphors and in Cohen's papers, the singer and several celebrated al- liturgical themes that would lambasted Montreal Jewry bums including "You Want It inspire so much of his life's for worshipping a "hideous Darker," which was released work at Shaar Hashomayim, distortion" of God. just weeks before he died, afortressofasynagoguebuilt "Bronze plaques bearing earning him his first solo by his ancestors that today names like Bronfman and Grammy Award. occupies the better part of a Beutel were fastened to mod- Withhispassing, interestin city block. Cohen's childhood ernbuildings, replacing hum- Cohen has surged even more, home, at 599 Belmont Ave is bier buildings established by particularlyinhis hometown, just up the hill, and a photo- menwho Iovedbooks inwhich Musee d'Art Contemporain graph of a teenage Cohen in there were no plaques at all," du Montreal recentlywrapped double-breasted jacket at his Cohen said. up a five-month multimedia Hebrew school graduation in Today, the library has exhibitionthatfeaturedworks 1949 still hangs on the wall. migrated from the cold wa- by 40 artists commissioned by Music remains central ter flat it once occupied to themuseumin"lovingtribute" to the service at Shaara modern campus in the toCohen.A10,000-square-foot Hashomayim, with a cantor western suburbs of the city, portrait of the singer, barely- leading prayers in the now a symbol of the very Jewish fixation on buildings decried by the young poet. Yet Cohen never severed his connection From page IA water during the winter rain to Montreal and its Jews, and season, which typically ends the embrace only seemed to Educationwill continue, over around the Passover holiday, intensify as the years passed. thecominghoursanddays, to The river had been dry for closelyescorttheeducational several weeks before unsea- staff in the schools the stu- sonable torrential down- dents attended." pours struck the country onFrom page IA Bennett also thanked the Wednesday and Thursday. search and rescue teams During heavy rains, thewater and ZOA's Fuel for Truth here "for their determined work in the rivers can rise quickly to rescue the boys and girls." leadingtoflashfloods. Hikers "The ZOA is a dynamic Prime Minister Benjamin are warned to steer clear of organization and we hope Netanyahu wrote on Twit- riverbeds during inclement you willconsiderbecominga ter,"Thestate of Israel grieves weather, when they can be part of it," said David Moidau, thepromisingyounglivesthat n t ri uslydanger us'When Zionistas board member. were cut short by this tragedy dry, riverbedsare popular hik- "Please remember, today Is- in the Arava [Desert Region[. ing destinations, rael needs us more than ever. We embrace the families in Two Bedouin teenagers ZOA member or not, we hope grief, and pray for the speedy were killed in separate in- you will continue advocating recovery of the wounded." cidents during floods on for Israel, whether with us or In Israel, rivers fill up with Wednesday. with other organizations." "There are times when you want to show the flag, when you want to indicate that there is nourishment to be had from this culture, that it is not entirely irrelevant to the present situation, that it does not serve a nation's best interests to reject and despise it," Cohen told an interviewer in 2016. And the synagogue recip- rocated, proudly waving the flag of its most celebrated alumnus. Outside the sanctuary, across the lobby from where the faces of Cohen's grandfa- ther and great-grandfather, both past presidents of the synagogue, peer down from austere Victorian portraits, a glass case houses a vinyl copy of "You Want It Darker" and the Juno Award the al- bum won from the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Facing the case is a display showcasing Canadian Jewish history that prominently features a photo of Cohen onstage in a sec- tion about the community's cultural contributions. After Cohen's death, Zel- ermyer chanted the El Malei Rachamim memorial prayer for Cohen during Shabbat ser- vices, sung to the tune of the singer's iconic "Hallelujah." "It was such a validation of the fact that we hang on to these traditions," Zelermyer said of Cohen's enduring con- nection to the synagogue. "I go and I teach cantorial stu- dents and I tell them the same thing: You never know who that young person is going to be sitting a few rows away from the pulpit and how the experience of being in shul and listening to someone praying with intention, how they're impacted by that. I just find it remarkable." If you wish to become a member of this new ZOA chapter and receive emails about upcoming programs and initiatives, click on the link below or go to the website https://zoa. org/donate/florida/for an application. The dues are $50 a year. If you have questions, feel free to contact either Dr. Dan Layish at dlayishmd@gmai]. corn or Sharona Whisler,