Leonard Cohen

23rd Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony - Press Room

Cohen in 2008, photo by Prphotos.com

Birth Name: Leonard Norman Cohen

Date of Birth: 21 September, 1934

Place of Birth: Westmount, Québec, Canada

Date of Death: 7 November, 2016

Place of Death: Los Angeles, California, U.S.

Ethnicity: Ashkenazi Jewish

Leonard Cohen was a Canadian musician, singer, songwriter, poet, and writer.

He was born in Westmount, an English-speaking area of Montréal, Québec, into a middle-class Jewish family. He was the son of Masha/Marsha (Klonitsky) and Nathan Bernard Cohen. His mother was born in Kaunas, Lithuania.

It appears that Leonard was a fourth cousin of Canadian actor William Shatner, through their shared Garmaise line.

Leonard’s paternal grandfather was Lyon Cohen (the son of Lazarus Cohen and Fraidie/Fanny Garmaise). Lyon was founding president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, and was born in Budwitcher, Poland. Lazarus was born in Verballen, the son of Chaim/Haim Cohen and Sara. Fraidie was the daughter of Beryl Garmaise, who was born in Vilkevishk, Lithuania, and of Rivke.

Leonard’s paternal grandmother was Rachel Friedman (the daughter of Noah Friedman and Sarah Treina Kellert). Sarah was the daughter of Julius Judah Judel Sam Kellert and Lea.

Leonard’s maternal grandfather was Rabbi Solomon Shlomo Zalman Klonitsky-Kline (the son of Yaakov Klonitsky and Hudie Klonizki). Rabbi Solomon was a Talmudic writer, who was born in Lithuania. Yaakov was the son of Zalman Arye Klonizki.

Leonard’s maternal grandmother was named Esther Marie Charnason (the daughter of Alex “Elijah” Charnas/Charnason and Chassa).

Sources: Genealogies of Leonard Cohen – http://www.geni.com

12 Responses

  1. Freerk says:

    @sarahle: That may be right for your community (where is it?), but I can’t verify that for the communities I know (in Germany), where many Jews are of Polish (or, meanwhile, Russian) Jewish descent. They are only Polish when they met Hungarian or Romanian Jews … O_o

  2. Freerk says:

    Quebecs gift to the world … :)

  3. andrew says:

    should be tagged as Polish Jewish and Lithuanian Jewish

    • Freerk says:

      I don’t think this were really helpful. My ex is somehow Romanian/Hungarian Jewish, cause she was born in Transylvania into a Hungarian Jewish community, but when you look at her family tree, the whole Middle/East European Jewish world comes together. :) National borders didn’t have such a meaning at least for Ashkenazim for hundreds of years.

        • Freerk says:

          Oh, but that’s not what Wikipedia says. They say he was “a Polish-born Canadian”. ;-) I don’t think he considers himself being Polish, he just lived in Poland. And then left the country.

          I have no problem if Cohen (Leonard, of course) considers himself being Polish Jewish, but I’m in doubt. He never lived there. And I know too many Polish-born Jews in Germany who consider themselves not being Polish. – Nor German (understandably), to be honest, but Jewish. Germany and Poland are both parts of their biographies, but not the essential parts. These are national (not ethnic) categories which don’t have a real meaning for the most Jews whom I know (nearly all Middle Europeans). With the exception of Israel, of course. But this may be totally different in the US.

          • Freerk says:

            The point is: it’s not always clear how your identity is influenced by the country you live. When your father was born in Poland and his father in Russia, and your mother comes from Budapest – what is your descent? Where is the point when you call yourself Polish?

            I think: when you call yourself Polish and identify yourself with the country, state, way of life. But that’s not (necessarily) a question of where you are born.

            A Polish Jew who was never accepted by the most Poles as equal may be somehow Polish, but he is by far more Jewish, and the differences between him and a Moravian Jew are by far smaller than those between him and a “real Pole”. When he left the country where he was born, he may stop being Polish. But he will always remain Jewish.

            To be honest, my ex-girlfreind insists on being a Hungarian Jew … in broadest Missingsch … (the dialect in Bremen, North Germany) :D

          • sarahle says:

            Wrong, in our jewish community the polish people consider themselves as polish jews! (first jewish then polish but still polish)

            being jewish is our religion but we still got a nationality, where ever we may live.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.