The Hallelujah singer has apologized to his fans for moving performances in Leeds and London in September.
The dates clashed with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year which starts on September 4th and goes until the 6th, and Yom Kippur, the holist day in the Jewish calendar which starts on Friday the 13th and ends in the following evening.
Cohen will instead play the First Direct Arena in Leeds on September 7 and the 02 Arena in London on September 15.
A statement issued on behalf of Cohen and promoter AEG said: “When Leonard Cohen Learned today that two of his UK concerts were scheduled on days of solemn religious observance, he respectfully asked AEG to move the dates. We at AEG, and Leonard, apologize deeply for the inconvenience this will cause, and we hope and trust that the reasons for the changes will be understood.”
Religion has been a recurring theme throughout Cohen’s career, as a number of his songs reference Jewish religious themes. Examples include “Story of Isaac”, and “Who by Fire”, the words and melody of which echo the Unetaneh Tokef, an 11th-century liturgical poem recited on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Broader Jewish themes sound throughout the album Various Positions. “Hallelujah,” which has music as a secondary theme, begins by evoking the biblical King David composing a song that “pleased the Lord” and continues with references to Bathsheba and Samson. The lyrics of “Whither Thou Goest”, performed by him and released in his album Live in London, are adapted from the Bible (Ruth 1:16–17, King James Version). “If It Be Your Will” also has a strong air of religious resignation.
The New York Times has described Cohen as an observant Jew who keeps Shabbat even while ontour.