In Memoriam Esther Cohen: Leonard Cohen’s Sister Died Sept 7, 2014

Leonard & Esther Cohen

Until they became adults, Leonard Cohen and his sister, Esther (four years older), maintained “a good if distant relationship.”1 As they grew older, however, they became ever closer. When the Duchess and I visited Leonard at his LA home in Aug 2014, he shared his concern about Esther, who was then hospitalized. She died shortly thereafter, on Sept 7, 2014.

I originally published A Video Commemoration Of The Life Of Esther Cohen on Sept 9, 2014 on my site. On September 9, 2016, two months before Leonard Cohen died, I republished A Video Commemoration Of The Life Of Esther Cohen on Cohencentric. That same day, I received this email message from Leonard:


Very touched (understatement) by the video celebrating my sister’s great spirit.

Thank you.


He also attached the photo of Esther and Viva, Lorca Cohen’s daughter, that is now atop this post.

For convenience, I’ve copied the original post and video below.

Esther Cohen: A Life Of Enthusiasm

Esther Cohen, Leonard Cohen’s older sister, died Sept 7, 2014. Esther married Victor Cohen. Following a Cuban honeymoon, they traveled extensively, were regulars at plays, concerts, movies, and parties, and lived happily together until Victor’s death 19 years ago, Esther did research for McGill and for Colliers in New York. She was unequivocally enthusiastic about life and beloved by everyone who met her.

Esther Cohen with husband Victor & nephew Jonathan Greenberg in Haifa, Israel, 1993

Four years ago,2 I was privileged to have been invited by Esther’s close friends, Dick and Linda Straub, to participate in commemorating her birthday. At that time and on a handful of occasions afterward, I had the chance to talk to Esther by phone and each time, I was charmed anew. While a video celebrating Esther’s birthday may seem incongruent with the announcement of her death, this montage of film and photos, supplied by the Straubs, features Esther at her best, in the midst of those who loved her, some of whom may be recognizable to viewers: Leonard Cohen, Emmylou Harris, Lian Lunson, Perla Batalla with husband Claud and daughter Eva, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Lily Lankin, Harry and Arlene Rasky, Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, Leon Wieseltier, Zack Oberzan, Nick Cave, and Santa Claus. There have been a few additions and deletions, but the message is still the same – Esther was a delight.

She will be greatly missed.

Esther Cohen: A Life Of Enthusiasm
Soundtrack (chosen by Esther): Leonard Cohen’s Take This Waltz
Video By: Allan Showalter


Credit Due Department: Almost all the images in the video were supplied by Linda and Dick Straub, who also came up with the concept of the video. Photos of a very young Leonard and Esther courtesy of Maarten Massa. Photo of Esther Cohen with husband Victor and nephew Jonathan Greenberg3 – copyright photo by Jonathan Greenberg, used with permission.

I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This video was originally posted September 9, 2016.


  1. Various Positions by Ira Nadel []
  2. At the time of original posting, Sept 9, 2014 []
  3. Jonathan Greenberg is an award-winning investigative financial and legal journalist with 35 years of experience with national such publications as Forbes, New York, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Mother Jones, Money, Playboy, Self, Inc., GQ, The New Republic, the Bohemian and Alternet.. Source: HuffPost []

5 thoughts on “In Memoriam Esther Cohen: Leonard Cohen’s Sister Died Sept 7, 2014

  1. I watched this video with a heart heavy with love and loss. Happy to see friends and others I know alongside Esther, and then shocked and grateful to see me, too. Esther was a joy, and a bright light that I never saw dim. Anyone who knew her misses her. I know that Dick and Linda feel the emptiness of a space she once so joyfully filled. Thank you for reposting this, Allan. ❤

    Much love,

  2. This is lovely, Allan. I met Esther on a number of occasions after “I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen” was published and she was an absolute delight. I can’t remember (blame the crazy heatwave in California right now!) if the first time was at a New York City bookshop where I did a reading and sang some of Leonard’s songs, or if it was at a NYC charity event I did with John Lissauer, Alan Light and Suzanne Vega – I came to learn that Esther would turn up an all sorts of events related to Leonard. I do remember clearly though that she walked up to me carrying at least half a dozen copies of my book and asking me to sign them. She gave me a telling off, saying she’d bought any number of copies for her friends. And she apologized for not wanting to be interviewed for the book, blaming a previous author that Leonard had asked her to talk to and for whom she didn’t have the kindest words. There were several other events where I saw her – fan-related friends; I know she was close with Dick and Linda Straub – and there was always that big bright smile, that enthusiasm. She definitely adored her little brother. And doubtless, he adored her.

  3. Very beautiful and touching. Could you tell me please who the female back up singer is in this rendition. Thank you for sharing.

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