Rabbi Abraham Cooper
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the Associate Dean, Director Global Social Action Agenda of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights organization with over 400,000 family members.
Born in New York in 1950, Abraham Cooper has been a longtime activist for Jewish and human rights causes on five continents. His extensive involvement in Soviet Jewry included visiting refuseniks in the 1970s, helping to open the first Jewish Cultural Center in Moscow in the 1980s, and lecturing at the Soviet Academy of Sciences and the Sakharov Foundation in the 1990s.
In 1977, he came to Los Angeles to help Rabbi Marvin Hier found the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Rabbi Cooper had the remarkable opportunity to know and work with Simon Wiesenthal, of blessed memory, for nearly thirty years. Together with Rabbi Hier, Rabbi Cooper regularly meets with world leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI, presidents and foreign ministers to defend the rights of the Jewish people, combat terrorism and promote intergroup relations.
For four decades, Rabbi Cooper has overseen the Wiesenthal Center’s international social action agenda ranging from worldwide antisemitism and extremist groups, Nazi crimes, to Interfaith Relations and the struggle to thwart the anti-Israel Divestment campaign, to worldwide promotion of tolerance education. He is widely recognized as a pioneer and international authority on issues related to digital hate and the Internet.
In 1992, and 2003 he helped coordinate international conferences in Paris on antisemitism cosponsored by UNESCO. In 1997, he coordinated the Center’s international conference, Property and Restitution-The Moral Debt to History in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2000, he coordinated an International Conversation on Digital Hate in Berlin, which was cosponsored by the German government.
He has testified before the United Nations (where the Center is an official NGO) in New York and Geneva, presented testimony at the US Senate, the Japanese Diet, the French Parliament, the OSCE and is a founding member of Israel’s Global Forum on Antisemitism.
In an historic first, in February 2004, Rabbi Cooper traveled to Khartoum and was the first Jewish leader to meet with the leadership of Sudan including President Al Bashir to discuss human rights and terrorism- related issues. He has met with King Hussein, King Abdullah and Prince Hassan of Jordan, former Indonesian President Wahid and then Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheik Tantawi.
In 2005, Rabbi Cooper participated in an international conference on Terrorism convened in Madrid on the first anniversary of the infamous train bombings in Spain’s capital.
Rabbi Cooper’s trailblazing work in Asia has helped counter negative stereotypes about Jews and open new venues in dialogue and intergroup relations in Japan, South Korea, The People’s Republic of China, India, and Indonesia. He was a leader of the Center’s mission to China that brought the first Jewish-sponsored exhibition to the world’s most populous nation. He also arranged national prime-time broadcasts of the Center’s documentary, Genocide, on Chinese and Russian TV to estimated audiences of ½ billion and 80 million, respectively. Rabbi Cooper brought the Center’s special Anne Frank and the Holocaust to tour Japan which has been viewed by two million Japanese in each of Japan’s 47 prefectures. He brought the Center’s Courage to Remember Holocaust Exhibit to the Gandhi Cultural Center in New Delhi. He recently traveled to Jakarta, Indonesia to meet with former president Wahid and other religious leaders in the world’s most populous Moslem nation.
Rabbi Cooper served as project manager of the Center’s historical exhibition, People, Book, Land: The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People with The Holy Land, co-organized with UNESCO, that has already been presented at UN headquarters, the U.S. Congress, UNESCO, Israel’s Knesset, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Chile, India, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, The Vatican.
Rabbi Cooper has been active in promoting ties between the Jewish people and leaders in the Gulf. Along with Rabbi Marvin Hier, he met with Bahrain’s King Hamad and later hosted 24 Interfaith leaders from the Arab nation in Jerusalem. The Wiesenthal Center hosted the international release of King Hamad’s historic Bahrain Declaration on Religious Tolerance
Rabbi Cooper's editorials appear in The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the Globe and Mail, National Post, Le Monde, the Japan Times, The Straits Times and Midstream magazine. He supervises the Center’s Digital Terrorism and Hate Project, supervised the Center’s entry into the digital age through www.wiesenthal.com., and created the Center’s innovative AskMusa.com, a multilingual website designed to familiarize Moslems around the world to the values of the Jewish people, its history and Faith.
As associate dean, he supervised the research and production of the Interactive Learning Center on the Holocaust and World War II for the Center’s renowned Museum of Tolerance, which has been utilized by over 4 million visitors. Rabbi Cooper has also authored exhibitions ranging from Simon Wiesenthal to Jackie Robinson. He has written the World Book Encyclopedia’s entry on Raoul Wallenberg and edited two major works on this Holocaust hero.
Rabbi Cooper has his BA and MS from Yeshiva University and a Ph.D. from the Jewish University of America. He is a recipient of Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Community Service Leadership Memorial Award and of the Orthodox Union’s National Leadership Award.
In 2003, Rabbi Cooper served on the transition team for Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Newsweek/Daily Beast lists Rabbi Cooper together with Rabbi Hier as #8 among the “50 Most Influential Rabbis in the United States".