Life was full of colour and different traditions, says rock star Lenny Kravitz about his mixed heritage

Jewish Telegraph, October 2020

ROCK star Lenny Kravitz talks about his mixed upbringing in his memoir Let Love Rule (Sphere, £20).
Kravitz’s mother was television star Roxie Roker, while his father was TV news producer Sy Kravitz.
While it was his father who was Jewish and his mother who was black, his former wife Lisa Bonet’s parents were the opposite — she had a Jewish mother and a black father — making their actress daughter Zoe Kravitz Jewish.
Let Love Rule, named after one of his early hits, is about his first 25 years.
Kravitz told USA Today: “I realised this was a book about finding my voice. I needed to take the time to go through my experiences as a child: all the love I got, and all the artists I saw growing up in New York City in the ’70s and then moving to Los Angeles. All those people and experiences were notes of the music that I would eventually make.”
The 56-year-old addresses his mixed heritage in the book, describing himself as “deeply two-sided”.
“Growing up, I remember seeing all these different-looking people,” he told USA Today.
“My family went to church, we went to temple (synagogue), we celebrated both [Christmas and Chanukah], and ate cuisine from both sides. life was full of colour and different traditions, and it was never discussed.
“So when I went to first grade and this boy found it odd that my parents did not match, I was a bit taken aback.
“I didn’t understand where he was coming from. that’s when the deeper conversations began, with my mother explaining to me why this boy called us out.”
Kravitz reveals that before his father died in 2005, they had made peace with each other.
“He finally let me in on things about his life that I didn’t know,” he said, “but I found I was still holding onto certain feelings about my dad, and in writing, I worked that out.
“Writing this book was the greatest form of therapy I could have had. I was able to look at him as a man who was walking this earth with what he had and what he was given from his experiences as a child.
“I was able to let go of whatever judgment I was holding onto.
“It was a really beautiful experience. I believe we’re all given what we need to become who we need to become, and he was the exact father that I needed to become myself.”
In May, 1990, Kravitz spoke to Jewish Telegraph deputy editor Mike Cohen.
“I grew up in a church, in a synagogue, with Passover, with Easter,” he said backstage at Manchester International One.
“I was not barmitzvah because I went to Hebrew School a few times, but it was too much stress for me at that age, as I was the only black kid.
“People really tripped out about that. They used to just stare at me, which made it hard for me.”
He added: “Lisa (Bonet) was brought up more Jewish than I was.
“She knows all her prayers and that kind of thing. Her father left her at a young age, so she only had the Jewish side of her family.
“She didn’t go with the black side of her family.”