Oakland, CA

Jewish Gateways To Explore Music of Jewish Icon Leonard Cohen

Vince Martellacci

Jewish Gateways, a major east bay Jewish organization open to everyone outside the faith, will host a unique musical event on August 18 at 7 PM. The free virtual evening will celebrate Leonard Cohen as a major figure in the Jewish community and examine his impact through three key songs. They will be performed and picked apart as Jewish Gateways takes a look at a different type of Jewish historical figure, the ones that appear in Jewish pop culture. Jewish Gateways’ entire mission is all about focusing on what we share in common, not what separates us.

Leonard Cohen's Significance as Icon And Metaphor For Jewish Community To Be CelebratedZoe (Anonymous Last Name)/Unsplash

Leonard Cohen Exemplifies The Jewish Experience

Titled, “Rags of Light: The Music of Leonard Cohen from a Jewish Perspective,” the event promises to “explore existential topics and their intersection with Judaism.” To hear Jewish Gateways talk about Cohen is like listening to someone sharing their pride in a hometown hero: “His acclaim only grew over fifty years of songwriting and performance, and he could still fill stadiums at 79 years old, giving his audiences long, intimate performances.”

The organization points out that Cohen’s music is the music of suffering, struggle, reflection, and going through the dark times when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Cohen explores “the mysteries, suffering, and ecstasies of the human condition,” according to Jewish Gateways. In their words, “he did a lot of wrestling with the angel of God.”

Haven’t we all?

Looking Forward To An Evening Of Impassioned Reflection

Laurie Kirkpatrick will lead the evening. She is a poet with a long history as a fan of Cohen. At the event, Laurie “will talk about [Cohen’s] roots and his use of Jewish metaphor as we hear and explore three of his most famous songs.”

Jewish Gateways touts itself as an “open community” that welcomes all non-Jewish people and goes so far as to welcome marginalized groups by name, including LGBT+. A key part of their mission lies in creating “new ways for individuals and families to connect with Jewish wisdom, spirituality, and celebration.” The Leonard Cohen event promises to be an ear-catching “new way.”

Jewish Gateways believes in blending the modern and traditional. They host events constantly, including their “Death Cafe” where attendees discuss and deal with grief, as a group and then in smaller cohorts. Jewish Gateways is not a synagogue, it is a full and flourishing organization for connecting Jews to their faith and community, and non-Jews to a community they never expected to stumble upon, and to welcome them. They offer several programs for the Jewish, including bar and bat mitzvah classes for adults.

Jewish Gateways even has a group for children of Holocaust survivors. But they also host events meant to slowly foster people into spirituality and a home base. These include “Coffee and Conversation”, the Death Cafe, and an Introduction to the Jewish Experience as well as “Torah for Everyone.”

Tickets are available for free on Eventbrite. But we’re all for including a donation.

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I've covered stories of unknown immigrants from places like Cambodia, been an opinion editor and opinion blog writer, managed blogs for my own businesses & for other brands. I'm looking forward to getting back to more classical journalism.

Walnut Creek, CA

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