Rabbi David A Cooper lived with his wife in the Old City of Jerusalem for over six years during the 1980’s, studying Kabbalah and Hasidism with a number of different masters of those traditions—who typically choose not to be identified. He has also been a student of Sufism, initiated by Pir Vilayat Khan, as well as Zen Buddhism with Roshi Bernie Glassman, and Tibetan Buddhism with Tsoknyi Rinpoche. He has studied and sat on retreat with many Vipassana teachers, from both the East and the West, in the Theravadin tradition.
Prior to his time in Israel, Cooper owned a business in Washington D.C., doing political consulting, and before that he worked at the Democratic National Committee in the infamous Watergate, as the Director of Research. He has studied the world’s wisdom traditions from the time he was a teenager, over fifty years ago. He just entered his eighth decade, having turned seventy in April of 2009.
He has studied with dozens of teachers in the Jewish world. His primary teachers have been Rabbi Zalman Shachter-Shalomi and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. He was ordained by R. Zalman in 1993.
Rabbi Cooper has written about many of his experiences in seven books and two sets of CDs. His most popular book, God Is a Verb, has been a national best seller, with over 120,000 copies in print in English, plus being available for Dutch, Portuguese, Rumanian and East Indian readers. His best selling audio set, The Mystical Kabbalah, was for a while one of the top ten best selling series at the well known firm of Sounds True. He has led workshops and retreats in almost every state of the union as well as Holland, Germany, Poland, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. He has appeared on public radio and public television, as well as the main subject in a Dutch produced documentary on Jewish Mysticism.
Obviously, Cooper is comfortable in dialogue with many different traditions; some have called him the Buddhist Rabbi. This identification has a certain degree of truth in that Cooper openly acknowledges his indebtedness to the cross-fertilization of esoteric teachings from various traditions, while at the same time deeply honoring the powerful themes of virtue, respect, study and service that are found in his root tradition of Judaism. All of this comes through clearly in his published works and his private communications, much of which appears on his website.
Rabbi David is a dedicated retreatant and he commits himself to extended silent retreats at a fairly steady frequency, either teaching, or for his own personal reasons. This contemplative life style, for both he and his wife, is itself the hallmark of the teachings—walking the talk, as some would say.
He has done many three-month retreats and currently is planning to set aside three months each year from now on for personal retreating. When not on retreat, he is engaged in writing, teaching and the ongoing fulfillment of a ever-blossoming relationship with his wife, Shoshana.