Sha Na Na played a 30-minute stretch before ceding the stage to Hendrix. „I wanted so badly to watch him,” Cooper added. „After the performance, I found a spot on the side of the stage where I could see the whole thing.” That fall Cooper and the rest of the band returned to Columbia’s campus, where they resumed living as students—but also performing on the weekends in clubs like the Fillmore.

Three years later, Cooper graduated with a degree in religion and decided it was time for his rock ’n’ roll career to end. He had always been drawn to Judaism, specifically its language and texts. As a kid, he’d fill out Hebrew grammar forms while riding the bus as child from his Long Island home to West Hempstead’s Hebrew Academy of Nassau County. Just before he turned 13, Cooper’s family moved to Livingston, New Jersey. He became involved in the local Conservative synagogue. He joined the choir and learned how to lead the prayer service.

„My father couldn’t understand it,” Cooper said. „He couldn’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to become an entertainer—or how anyone could make a career as a biblical scholar.”

Yaron Weitzman
Sha Na Na Tova

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