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(l-r): Cantors TRACY KASNER GREAVES and LEN UDOW; Rabbanit DORIT KOSMIN; and the married couple of NATHANIEL GOODE and JESSICA HAVEY.

Over 400 people packed the auditorium of the Etz Chayim Synagogue Saturday evening October 20 for a concert dedicated to the music of the late Leonard Cohen. (Watch a clip from the concert along with a clip from the Jewish Foundation Book of Life signing event, held the next morning:



Seated at tables cabaret style, those in attendance were treated to a magical evening featuring five different singers: Cantors Len Udow (of Temple Shalom Congregation) and Tracy Kasner Greaves (of Etz Chayim Congregation); Jessica Havey and Nathaniel Goode (who are actually a married couple and occasionally perform together as “A Nation of Two”); and a newcomer to Winnipeg, Rabbanit Dorit Kosmin (who is married to Etz Chaim’s new rabbi, Klil Rose).
With a narration provided by Bruce Sarbit during which he told stories about Cohen’s life, the performers sang 11 songs altogether. Len Udow kicked off the musical portion of the evening with a rendition of Cohen’s very first song, “Suzanne”. Many of the songs that followed were ones that conveyed Cohen’s frequent references to his Jewishness (although Cohen was also a Zen Buddhist).
Nathaniel Goode sang “Who by Fire?”, which is taken from the well-known Yom Kippur prayer (for which Bruce Sarbit provided a historical explanation of its origin), also “The Story of Isaac”, about the Biblical Isaac.

Later in the show a video of Cohen singing a song titled “Hineni” (Here I am), which was on his very final album, titled “You Want it Darker” (released shortly before his death in 2016) was shown on the auditorium screen.
The final song of the evening was, of course, what has by now become Cohen’s most famous song, “Hallelujah”, sung with Tracy Kasner Greaves taking the lead role, with all four other singers joining in the chorus. Sarbit explained that “Hallelujah” actually has 80 verses altogether.
It was a beautiful evening all in all, but I had to wonder: Why was there so much cheese on every table? I always thought of Leonard Cohen’s music and poetry as a mixture of sweet & sour, but cheesy? (Just kidding, Mary Ann Rosenbloom and Adeena Lungen, who were the chairs of the planning group for the evening.)

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