The secret funeral of Leonard Cohen
  • Television

Leonard Cohen was one of the most influential singers of his generation, with hits such as ‘Hallelujah’ which became classics. However, his funeral was a small affair which was conducted in secret.

Channel 12 News correspondent Sivan Rahav Meir spoke to Rabbi Adam Scheier, the rabbi who conducted Cohen’s funeral, three year’s after Cohen’s death at the age of 82.

“People found out on Thursday. So for those three days, as we made arrangements for the funeral, we made arrangements with the family, we were holding on to this precious and holy information, and I think in many ways allowed the family to give Leonard the Kavod Hamet (respect for the dead), that really only they could give,” Rabbi Scheier said.

Cohen’s family was influential in the Congregation Shaar Hashomayim of Montreal, which Rabbi Schneir now leads. His Judaism was infused into his songs.

“Mi ba-aish, mi ba-mayim (who by fire, who by water,) that he heard when he was a young boy, became part of his life, became part of his poetry and his own expression,” the rabi said. “His family will tell us that he never left Judaism.”

He revealed that after Cohen passed away, his Hebrew name Eliezer was used on the documents used to bring him back to Montreal to protect his privacy and that of his family.

“It felt safer. It felt holy. It felt like we were able to be there for him, the man, and able to connect not to his fame, but to the little boy who was saying kaddish for his father who he is now buried next to and who was so close to the generations of his family. That was very special, to feel like we were able to honor the person and not the reputation.”

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סיון רהב-מאיר

Sivan Rahav-Meir is a media personality and lecturer. Married to Yedidya, the mother of five. Lives in Jerusalem. She works for Israel TV news, writes a column for Yediot Aharonot newspaper, and hosts a weekly radio show on Galei Zahal (Army Radio). Her lectures on the weekly Torah portion are attended by hundreds and the live broadcast attracts thousands more listeners throughout the world.
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