Adrienne Cooper, an American-born singer, teacher and curator of Yiddish music who was a pioneer in the effort to keep the embers of that language smoldering for newer generations, died on Sunday in Manhattan. She was 65.
The Times obituary continues:
Though the movement Ms. Cooper helped start in the 1970s and ’80s was often described as a Yiddish revival, less sentimental observers acknowledged that a true revival of the spoken language among secular Jews was unlikely, given that people who had learned it in their homes, like Holocaust survivors and children of turn-of-the-century Jewish immigrants, were dying out. But because of the teaching and organizational work of Ms. Cooper and a handful of others, klezmer has become a popular current of the music mainstream and Yiddish courses are given at scores of colleges.The Times obituary concludes:
“She was in a way the mother of the revival,” said her friend Alicia Svigals, a klezmer violinist.
While many looked on the revival efforts as quixotic, Ms. Cooper, her daughter said, “was fearless” and was “not burdened by counting numbers.”For but one example of what the Jewish world has lost, here is a video of Adrienne Cooper z"l singing with (lehavdil) Sharon Bernstein and Jeanette Lewicki:
“She was interested in people expressing their Judaism through their language and their culture,” Ms. Gordon said. “She taught people how to do that.”
But all is not lost - thanks to the work of (among many others) the Yiddish Book Center and its Wexler Oral History Project.
In this video, Adrienne Cooper z"l talks about the new generation of Yiddish learners and the importance of the next generation for the survival of Yiddish language and culture. She stresses the role that the next generation will have to play in preserving Yiddish.
May the memory of Adrienne Cooper be for a blessing.