Indelible musical memories of Yom Kippur

Indelible musical memories of Yom Kippur


norman lebrecht

October 08, 2019

Leonard Cohen, who stood by Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, wrote this song on the Atonement Day liturgy:


The Israeli songwriter Naomi Shemer wrote ‘If Only’ during that terrible war, an uptake on the Beatles’ Let It Be.

Shlomo Carlebach, the singing rabbi, brought his own take to liturgy.

The tragically shortlived Ofra Haza sings a Yemenite Yom Kippur prayer, Im Nin’alu


Feel free to add your own.


  • cym says:

    Léonard Cohen selection sounds a bit like a sadder ‘Frère Jacques’..

    • Max Raimi says:

      Also said of the third movement of Mahler 1. Cohen was uncanny in his ability to marshal the simplest musical resources to maximum effect. His poetry is subversive yet gorgeous. I make a point of listening to “Democracy” and “Anthem” from time to time, to fend off despair.