LC article in an Israeli newspaper

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LC article in an Israeli newspaper

Postby DBCohen on Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:50 am

The popular Israeli Hebrew newspaper “Yediot Aharonot” published in its “7 Days” weekend supplement of January 20, 2012 an article on LC, spread over four large pages, including old and current photographs, and titled “I speak Hebrew with God”. The journalist, Lior Zilbershtine, took part in the Paris pre-listening with the press on January 16, the recording of which was made available to us by Maarten, here:

viewtopic.php?f=55&t=31274&p=295237&hilit=Paris&sid=5a704e98469e07793d5b7212728bf02c#p295237

In her article Zilbershtine quotes several answers that LC gave in that session to the journalists’ questions, including those she asked herself (below). She describes herself as an old-time fan, who grew up with LC’s work, and writes that her knees were trembling when she realized that she was going to meet him face to face for the first time.

The following questions and answers are transcribed from the recording of the session (and checked against the newspaper article, in which they are translated into Hebrew):

Q: Shalom, I am Lior Zilbershtine from Israel, from Yediot Aharonot. I would like to ask you about your last visit to Israel, because I know that every concert of yours everybody said it was magic, but the crowd and the critics all said that something very special happened during your last concert in Israel. I just wanted to know: did you feel the same way, and I would also like to ask, because I know you had a lot of pressure before that concert; how did you respond to all those people who were calling on you to boycott Israel and all that. Thank you.

A: I don’t believe in the boycott of artistic expression; I think it is one of the last hopes for communication. I understand the position of the boycotters, I understand it very well. But we tried to make a statement which was that there is a possibility of communication between people. We established a fund, we donated all the proceeds for that concert and they were considerable because there were 50,000 people there. There were Palestinians in the audience; we took a great effort to bring Palestinians into the concert, and we established a fund that would sponsor grassroots activities that would in some way encourage some kind of communication between the two communities. I know it’s hopeless, I know it’s irrelevant, I know in many minds it is more than irrelevant, but nevertheless one feels that one would like to do something and that’s what we did.

Q: How was the concert for you?

A: The concert itself was glorious, memorable.

Q: Is there something special for you about a concert taking place in Israel?

A: I don’t like to signify; I think, I speak for all our musicians: we don’t take any concert casually, but for me to be able to give the ancient Priestly Benediction at the end of the concert to the people who originated this expression, that was of great significance to me.

*

Zilbershtine also writes that LC’s manager told her with a smile that the concert in Israel was one of the most difficult to produce, but also that the next morning LC called him and said happily: “Let’s do it again!”.

She ends her article as follows [in my translation]:

Towards the end of the session I get close to Cohen and manage to steal a few more moments [with him]. When he asks my name, I hasten to translate the meaning of the name into English, but suddenly I remember: “Wait a minute, you speak Hebrew, don’t you?” “Yes, with God”, he answers in English, and smiles a big smile.
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Re: LC article in an Israeli newspaper

Postby lizzytysh on Sun Jan 29, 2012 5:24 pm

Thank you for this, Doron. I'm posting it on my Facebook wall.
Lovely exchanges between Leonard and Lior.
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Re: LC article in an Israeli newspaper

Postby bridger15 on Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:57 pm

Thank you, Doron for posting about this article and for taking the time and care to present it so beautifully.

It brought tears to my eyes.

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Re: LC article in an Israeli newspaper

Postby Winnaar58 on Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:31 am

I had this strong feeling that at the conference in Paris there was some extra magic( I mean with Leonard Cohen there always is magic) between the two of them
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Re: LC article in an Israeli newspaper

Postby bridger15 on Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:48 am

Winnaar58 wrote:I had this strong feeling that at the conference in Paris there was some extra magic( I mean with Leonard Cohen there always is magic) between the two of them

I thought this was the photo of a Turkish blogger?
viewtopic.php?f=55&t=31184&p=294395&hilit=fedora#p294369
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Re: LC article in an Israeli newspaper

Postby seadove on Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:00 pm

but suddenly I remember: “Wait a minute, you speak Hebrew, don’t you?” “Yes, with God”, he answers in English, and smiles a big smile.


The question is.... does he or does he not speak modern Hebrew? Most of my foreign aquaintances (who live elsewhere of Israel) donot know how to converse in Hebrew but they do know how to pray in Hebrew from Hebrew text, mostly the holy Jewish bible. It is unclear if Cohen actually converses with G-d the way the newspaper presents this.

And thank you very much for this article, you see I usually read the various news in electronicly from the internet and when I went to get a copy of the written newspaper it was not available at the supermarket. I think that the newspaper misused Cohen's supposedly "conversing" with G-d in a non appropriate and non accurate way so as to sell their weekend issue. I mean... if he really does do that (talks with G-d) I think he'd be out of his wits, wouldn't he?

And yet I do agree with the fact that the concert in itself was electrifying, magical, magnificant, all the words that I can use will still fall short of what it really was.

He did say he wanted to do it again? I certainly hope so. I'll be there again when this happens. :-)
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Re: LC article in an Israeli newspaper

Postby DBCohen on Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:48 pm

Surprisingly for a person with such a way with words (in English), LC seems to be deficient in his ability to speak other languages, as he himself has often admitted. Even his ability to speak French is limited, in spite of growing up in a bilingual environment; his Greek is also rudimentary, in spite of living for many years on a Greek island (there must have been too many English-speaking expatriates there, so he never had to make the effort). He studied Hebrew in his childhood, and can read the letters, but would not understand much in the Bible or the Prayer Book without the aid of a bilingual edition. As for Modern Hebrew, he may have picked up some words during his prolonged visits to Israel in the early 1970’s, but he probably cannot understand much. I guess that what he means by “speaking to God” is mainly reading from the Prayer Book, not formulating his own thoughts in Hebrew, but it is understandable that the newspaper would pick on such a quote for a headline.
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Re: LC article in an Israeli newspaper

Postby seadove on Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:11 pm

When I read that headlines I got very annoyed and frustrated, knowing very well what all this was about. It's all about selling the papers, a cheap stunt, in my opinion. I don't think that Cohen even knows what they did. I suppose it's all legal... until that last line which he used "Yes, with G-d". That is clearly misleading. And ever since that Wednesday before that weekend you can hear the adverts on the radio, something like "Read this weekend's Yediot Achronot about Leonard Cohen speaking with G-d!". I perfectly understand that line "Yes, with G-d" as praying from the prayer books, which is very common with Jews in the diaspora. Some of them pray without even understanding what they say. And some know phrases by heart.

Again I say, if he really speaks with G-d then he must be daft. Which he isn't! Definately!
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Re: LC article in an Israeli newspaper

Postby bridger15 on Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:50 pm

When he asks my name, I hasten to translate the meaning of the name into English, but suddenly I remember: “Wait a minute, you speak Hebrew, don’t you?” “Yes, with God”, he answers in English, and smiles a big smile.

When I first read this interchange in Doron's post, I interpreted it as LC's own poetic take on the meaning of her name and he didn't need her to translate it.

To emphasize, I did not think LC was saying he speaks with G-D.

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Re: LC article in an Israeli newspaper

Postby LisaLCFan on Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:16 pm

DBCohen wrote:Towards the end of the session I get close to Cohen and manage to steal a few more moments [with him]. When he asks my name, I hasten to translate the meaning of the name into English, but suddenly I remember: “Wait a minute, you speak Hebrew, don’t you?” “Yes, with God”, he answers in English, and smiles a big smile.


I took this as a little joke, particularly since it was in a personal exchange, and not part of the official interview. Leonard is a funny guy, remember?

And, DBCohen, why is it "surprising" that Leonard is not fluent in numerous languages? I know a lot of very well-educated people with tremendous skills in English, who are nonetheless not multi-lingual. To suggest that it is a "deficiency" seems rather condescending.
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Re: LC article in an Israeli newspaper

Postby holydove on Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:03 pm

Many people would consider the recitation of prayers, in Hebrew, as a way of "speaking with God", & it's very possible that Leonard does say prayers in Hebrew (there is an interview where Leonard says that he is able to read/recite Hebrew prayers). There is also the Kabbalistic practice of repeating certain Hebrew words (like the repetition of mantras in Eastern practices), & it's believed that the repetition of such words brings one closer to the Source of Creation, & that could also be considered a way of "talking" to God. It seems quite possible that Leonard was referring to either praying, or repeating Hebrew mantras, & BTW, I don't think either of those things (or any other manner in which one feels he/she is speaking to God) is "daft" at all.
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Re: LC article in an Israeli newspaper

Postby LEONKA on Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:51 am

seadove wrote:
The question is.... does he or does he not speak modern Hebrew? Most of my foreign aquaintances (who live elsewhere of Israel) donot know how to converse in Hebrew but they do know how to pray in Hebrew from Hebrew text, mostly the holy Jewish bible. It is unclear if Cohen actually converses with G-d the way the newspaper presents this.

And thank you very much for this article, you see I usually read the various news in electronicly from the internet and when I went to get a copy of the written newspaper it was not available at the supermarket. I think that the newspaper misused Cohen's supposedly "conversing" with G-d in a non appropriate and non accurate way so as to sell their weekend issue. I mean... if he really does do that (talks with G-d) I think he'd be out of his wits, wouldn't he?

And yet I do agree with the fact that the concert in itself was electrifying, magical, magnificant, all the words that I can use will still fall short of what it really was.

He did say he wanted to do it again? I certainly hope so. I'll be there again when this happens. :-)


From a long while I was watching the internet and I found this interview with Leonard.
In that article suggests something of a return to the stage.

This is the link: Leonard Cohen's new take on Old Ideas, from January 27, 2012

http://www.canada.com/entertainment/Leo ... story.html

Part of the interview:

Now,Cohen said he is looking forward to getting back on stage and that it might be a good time to polish another, a half-dozen songs
that he has been working on, but Which were not ready for the release of Old Ideas.
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