The late great Lou Reed was a Jewish boy from Brooklyn, and though Zionism hasn’t been an element of the mainstream obituaries I’ve seen– still, the claim is being made. Here’s Tom Gross in the National Review:
Perhaps even more than other American-Jewish rock stars such as Billy Joel and Bob Dylan, Lou Reed was fiercely proud of being Jewish — and included lyrics on behalf of Israel and against anti-Semitism in some of his songs.
I mention Reed’s Jewishness because not a single obituary I have read of him in the mainstream press mentions it, when for Reed it was an important factor.
Reed, who died yesterday of liver failure at the age of 71, was born Lewis Allan Reed to a Jewish family in Brooklyn. He said that while “he had no god apart from rock ‘n’ roll” his Jewish roots and standing up for Israel meant a lot to him. He was a frequent visitor to the country, last performing in Tel Aviv in 2008, and his aunt and many cousins live in Haifa and other Israeli towns.
Both the National Review and The Jerusalem Post describe a Reed song called Good Evening, Mr. Waldheim, from 1989, that related anti-Semitic incidents, including, in Reed’s view, Jesse Jackson’s talking to the PLO.
The Jerusalem Post says Reed was private about his religious feelings but that a progressive Jerusalem rabbi who befriended him said he “definitely had a Jewish soul.”
Despite feeling at home in Israel and visiting the country a handful of times over the last two decades, Lou Reed kept his feelings about Judaism private, according to a Jerusalem rabbi who befriended the fabled rocker and his wife, performance artist Laurie Anderson….
[Progressive Rabbi Levi] Weiman-Kelman, who first met Reed through Anderson, who performed in Israel for the first time in 1992 in a benefit show for the New Israel Fund.