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Remembering Sami Rohr

A tribute for the peerless philanthropist on the anniversary of his yahrtzeit

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Sami Rohr enters the new Feldinger Chabad Jewish Center. The center was sponsored by Mr. Rohr in honor of the Feldingers, a Basel Jewish family who personally sheltered him during World Was II.(Lubavitch)

Last year, the death of philanthropist and businessman Sami Rohr rightly launched a thousand tributes. After all, Rohr’s influence on Jewish communities worldwide is as incalculable as his commitment was immeasurable.

Today, on Rohr’s first yahrtzeit, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky has a poignant remembrance of Don Sami, which is what Kotlarsky called Rohr during their years in Bogota.

Over the years, Don Sami and I would regularly meet for lunch to discuss “business.” Over a meal of fish followed by gooseberry liqueur, we would run through a laundry list of present and future projects. I can still hear his gentle voice replying decisively to my requests: “Gemacht,” he would say. Done; on to the next one. Then again, “Gemacht.” And again. And again.

As he became older, Don Sami could have easily stopped and said, “I’ve accomplished enough, let me slow down, let me rest and leave it to others.” Instead, he assumed responsibility for entirely new budgets and projects ­–­ and world Jewry was the richer for it. I will never forget when I visited him in the hospital just days before he passed away. His first words to me were, “Nu, Rabbi Kotlarsky? Did you bring me some new ‘business’ today?” It took all my power to contain the flood of tears threatening to burst forward in reaction to Don Sami’s utter selflessness.

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Remembering Sami Rohr

A tribute for the peerless philanthropist on the anniversary of his yahrtzeit

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