Obituaries for the week of March 18, 2022 – J.
Obituaries are supported by a generous grant from Sinai Memorial Chapel.
Buni Cooper, singer, actress and educator, died on her birthday, March 9, in Walnut Creek, California after a rich and active life. A Chicago native and longtime resident of Berkeley and Oakland, she turned 101 an hour before she passed away.
Like so many Jews of the Russian Empire, Buni’s parents came to America as children, fleeing the pogroms of 1905 with their parents; Shabtai Barach, from Kiev, and Sarah Halperin, from Pyatigorsk in the Russian Caucasus Mountains. Shabtai and Sara met and married in Chicago in 1918, and Baile Buni Barach was their second child born in 1921. Growing up in an Orthodox Jewish home with five siblings, Buni spoke Yiddish at home and English on the street. Her passion for singing began at an early age hearing her mother’s lovely singing of lullabies and folksongs in Yiddish and Russian, and her father’s beautiful mastery of Hebrew cantorial music and liturgy.
Buni soon found her own voice as she studied music, acting and directing at Chicago’s Central YMCA College. She went on to win the citywide voice contest, leading to singing for war bond rallies at Soldier Field, and a scholarship to study voice, opera and directing at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, and performing at Carnegie Hall.
During World War II, she worked for the Transportation Corps at the New York Port of Embarkation, then married her high-school sweetheart, Emanuel Cooper, as he completed Navy service in San Diego. They settled in the East Bay, where their children, Adrienne, Michael and Stephen were born and raised. In addition to her role as full-time mother, Buni studied music at UC Berkeley and drama at Mara Alexander’s San Francisco’s Actor’s Lab. Her passion for theater, music and opera led to her performing with the San Francisco Opera Repertory, the Berkeley Opera Theater and San Francisco’s Opera Ring.
Buni’s knowledge of Jewish education allowed her to contribute her talents as director of the religious schools of Beth Jacob Congregation and Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland, and the Jewish pre-kindergarten program at Congregation Chevra Thilim in San Francisco. Her beautiful voice and love of Jewish and Yiddish music led to hosts of concerts over the years at multiple venues throughout Northern California.
Early in 1967, with her two eldest children already in Israel, Buni — the idealist and something of an adventurer — transplanted herself and youngest son to Israel, studied Hebrew and settled in Jerusalem. Ignoring the U.S. Embassy’s warnings to leave Israel as war approached, she not only stayed on during the Six-Day War, but remained in Jerusalem for another few years, directing opera at the Rubin Academy and working at Israeli educational TV. After returning to Oakland, Buni remained active well into her 80s, directing and performing with the Yiddish Art Players Theatre Workshop and the Berkeley Jewish Theatre.
Throughout her life, Buni showed by example how to balance between family and community, responsible and responsive to both. She especially relished communicating her Yiddish cultural heritage to her daughter, Adrienne Cooper, who carried the legacy forward with her own beautiful voice, intellect and energy, performing and teaching in the U.S. and internationally. Indeed, Adrienne is widely considered to have been central to the worldwide “Yiddish revival” starting in the 1970s. This, in some measure, is also Buni’s legacy.
Buni was preceded in death by her husband, Emanuel; her daughter, Adrienne; and her grandchildren, Maya and Adam. She leaves behind her sons Michael and Stephen; her grandchildren, Sarah Gordon, Rosa Saerys, Matthew, Elana and Daniel Cooper, and her great-granddaughter, Flora Saerys.
The family wishes to express its thanks to Patti Baird and her loving and caring staff at the Tiffany Court assisted-living community in Walnut Creek.
Memorial donations may be made to Razom Ukraine Emergency Response.
Geraldine Lambert Hershman
Dec. 21, 1931–March 11, 2022
Geraldine Lambert Hershman, age 90, passed away on March 11 with her family at her bedside. Geraldine had a career as a public-school teacher and worked for many years in the Jewish community. She dedicated her life to her family and community causes. She was known as “Geri” to all her friends.
Geri is survived by her loving husband of 66 years, Rabbi Morris Hershman, her three children, Marc (Stacie) Hershman, Amy (Sam) Silberstein and Karen Hershman, her beautiful grandchildren, David (Meredith) Silberstein, Roni Silberstein, Elana Hershman and Jacob Hershman, and her newborn great-granddaughter, Natalie Silberstein. Geri was caring, generous and she will be greatly missed by family and friends. The burial service will be private.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to URJ Camp Newman or to the charity of your choice.
Isaac “Ike” Silberman
May 8, 1927–Feb. 20, 2022
Isaac “Ike” Silberman, a highly regarded neurologist and psychiatrist in the San Francisco Bay Area, passed away on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022. He was surrounded by family at his home on Mt. Tamalpais, where he lived for the last six decades. He was 94.
Ike will be remembered as a thoughtful intellect, someone who loved life and lived it to the fullest. He was born on May 8,1927 in St. Louis, MO to Russian Jewish immigrants. In 1937, the family moved to Palestine. Their arduous journey and year in Israel at the height of the Depression was covered by a St. Louis newspaper.
Ike knew from the age of 5 that he would become a doctor. He was accepted to Washington University Medical School at the age of 16; however, he was drafted into the U.S. Army toward the end of World War II, and served as a translator in postwar Germany. When he returned to the U.S., he continued his medical education. He specialized in neurology and psychiatry, two professions that in the 1950s were not considered related. Ike entered private practice, and prided himself in helping patients with complex medical issues.
In 1958 he married Rosalind and they bought their house in Mill Valley, up on the top of Mt. Tamalpais. They raised their family, and opened their home to hikers, bikers and travelers from around the globe. Ike loved to hike the trails of Mt. Tamalpais. He often stopped to talk with friends and strangers along the way. He loved engaging in solving the world’s problems, and he loved his family.
Ike was active at Congregation Rodef Sholom, Marin Jewish Community Center, Congregation Kol Shofar and other local organizations.
Ike is survived by his five children, Sherrie, Terry, Tammy, Louis and David; his five grandchildren, Spencer, Skyler, Mika, Noah and Leila; and his loving partner, Debbie Dorosin.
He will be missed.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to a charity of your choice or Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Marin.
March 2, 1923–March 6, 2022
Mildred waited until the day after her 99th birthday party to pass away. We wish she had had a chance to enjoy the spumoni ice cream and ice cream cake she always requested. Although unresponsive in her final days, several close relatives had a chance to spend a few moments with Mildred and express their love. As she wished, with the incredible help of her devoted caregivers and the Kaiser Palliative Care and hospice teams, she got to stay in the house that her husband built in 1955 with the incredible views of San Francisco.
Mildred was witty, generous, caring and a devoted mother, grandmother, great grandmother and aunt. She lost her husband, Philip, 20 years ago. Mildred and her sister, Lillian, went to a Jewish Community Center ballroom dance class when Mildred was 18 and they met Philip and Sam Weiner, two brothers. From the time they were married, both sets of brothers and sisters always lived next door to each other. When war was declared, Mildred and Philip got married. Daughter Marsha was born and Philip joined the Army Air Corps and was sent to Okinawa to build landing strips for American aircraft. After the war, their daughter Linda was born.
As a young woman, Mildred loved going to the S.F. Jewish Community Center to swim and play badminton. Firemen would often come over from the firehouse across the street for volleyball games. Mildred was on the City College of San Francisco women’s tennis team and would go to the tennis courts in Golden Gate Park on weekends for pickup games with anyone who wanted to play.
Mildred worked alongside her husband at the motel he built in downtown San Francisco and alternated with her sister to take the day shift. She helped her husband in his Peerless Institute home study course business for contractors preparing to take licensing exams in all the specialties of construction work.
Mildred and Philip loved to rent a tent cabin each year in Yosemite, where she floated down the river in an inner tube. In the evening they would go to watch the firefalls come down from Half Dome.
Mildred hung in there bravely until the end. She used to say, “I think I did pretty good to make it this far.” We all agree!
Mildred leaves behind daughters Linda O’Mea, Marsha Mayer (Bob), grandchildren Curtis Raff (Stacey), Carter Raff, Kevin Mayer, Ryan O’Mea (Aida), Melanie Smith (Ryan); great-grandchildren Riley Raff, Reagan Raff, Aidan O’Mea and Helena O’Mea, and many nephews and nieces she loved so much.
Mildred’s service took place at Salem Memorial Park in Colma.
Donations in Mildred Weiner’s memory may be made to help Ukraine at jewishfed.org/crisis-ukraine.