Two major philanthropists who were born in Europe, achieved great financial success through the real estate business, and gave back to the Jewish community by supporting numerous yeshivas and other Jewish educational institutions here, in Israel and around the world, died in recent days, and their contributions cannot be measured in dollars alone.
Sami Rohr, 86, and Zev Wolfson, 84, were quite different in temperament, but they had much in common.
Rohr, who lived in Bal Harbour, Fla., escaped Germany with his family less than two weeks after Kristallnacht, in 1938. Since the 1970s he was a major supporter of the worldwide Chabad Lubavitch movement, especially in the former Soviet Union, where he provided the salaries for emissaries to do their outreach work. Six years ago his children surprised him by establishing the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature in his honor, with a $100,000 annual award to further the career of talented young writers.
Wolfson was born in Vilna and came to the United States at 17. Soon after his arrival he was able to provide a yeshiva education for his brother, and became a lifelong devotee of some of the leading yeshiva world personalities, providing financial assistance to rabbinical students and Torah institutions in Israel, Europe, Russia and the U.S. He also was a tireless advocate for Israel, politically as well as financially.
Both men were deeply aware of how fortunate they were to have avoided the fate of millions of their brothers and sisters, and remained committed to furthering Jewish education, ensuring a legacy of learning that will long be remembered.
May their memories be a blessing.