people sitting in audience listening to lecture

Siegal Lifelong Learning Lecture

Canadian-Israeli journalist and author Matti Friedman will join Case Western Reserve University’s Siegal Lifelong Learning for an upcoming in-person lecture titled, “Who By Fire: Leonard Cohen in the Sinai.” 

Friedman is a former Associated Press correspondent and essayist for The New York Times opinion section. He currently writes a monthly feature for Tablet Magazine. His writing has appeared in Smithsonian Magazine, The Atlantic, and elsewhere. Friedman has authored four non-fiction books including his most recent, Who By Fire, Leonard Cohen in the Sinai.

The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. on April 20 at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School. Register to attend the lecture.

Book synopsis

In October 1973, the poet and singer Leonard Cohen—39 years old, famous, unhappy and at a creative dead end—traveled from his home on the Greek island of Hydra to the chaos and bloodshed of the Sinai desert after Egypt attacked Israel on Yom Kippur. Moving around the front with a guitar and a group of local musicians, Cohen met hundreds of young soldiers at the worst moment of their lives. The war transformed Cohen. He had announced that he was abandoning his music career, but he instead returned to Hydra and to his family, and released one of the best albums of his career. 

In Who by Fire, journalist Friedman gives a riveting account of those weeks in the Sinai, drawing on Cohen’s previously unpublished writing and original reporting to create a kaleidoscopic depiction of a harrowing, formative moment for both a young country at war and a singer at a crossroads.

This program is offered in partnership with the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School and the Cleveland Israel Arts Connection of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.