Daily Israel Report

Jewish Philanthropist Sami Rohr Passes Away at 86

Prominent Jewish philanthropist Sami Rohr passed away Sunday in South Florida at the age of 86.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 8/7/2012, 2:58 PM

Chabad Rabbis
Chabad Rabbis
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Prominent Jewish philanthropist Sami Rohr passed away Sunday in South Florida at the age of 86.

Rohr, who lived a life committed to the Jewish people, donated tens of millions of dollars to the Chabad-Lubavitch movement to establish branches in the former Soviet Union, on college campuses and throughout the world.

"There are those who speak of Jewish continuity, but you are the ones who create it," Rohr told the gala banquet of the international Chabad shlichim in 2006, where he appeared as a guest of honor.

He was also the namesake of a $100,000 annual prize for Jewish literature.

Born in Berlin, Rohr’s family escaped Germany after Kristallnacht and before the outbreak of the Second World War. His parents were sent to a refugee camp when he was 16.

He later settled in Colombia, where he amassed a fortune in real estate. His charitable work included Jewish community centers that Chabad leaders say helped lay groundwork for a rebirth of Judaism across the former Soviet Union.

Reflecting on the impact of Rohr’s work, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice-chairman of Chabad’s educational arm and a close friend of the family, called Rohr’s passing “not only a loss for his friends and family, but for all of world Jewry.”

“His unending dedication and vision were pivotal to Jewish growth and education to communities and individuals around the world,” Kotlarsky said. “The seeds he planted and watched blossom in his lifetime will continue to bear fruit for generations to come.”