Shmuel Rohr (1926-2012) was born to an Orthodox family in Berlin, a diligent student of Torah even during the Holocaust while fleeing to Belgium, then France, and finally to Switzerland. Fearing another war in Cold War Europe, Rohr’s father sent him to Colombia. Over the next 25 years, Rohr applied his famous intellect to business, eventually building nearly half of Colombia’s capital city, Bogota. Throughout, he maintained his devotion to Torah, especially the mitzvah of charity. He would go on to donate over $250 million to Jewish causes over his lifetime, including developing a young State of Israel, and reinvigorating Jewish life in the former Soviet Union. After an encounter with Chabad rabbis, Rohr started to donate generously to the organization, eventually bankrolling the salaries of over 500 Chabad rabbi-emissaries around the world. Rohr established a global project to preserve Yiddish literature, and his children set up the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, one of the richest literary prizes in the world. Rohr also developed a unique system of philanthropy that is used by wealthy people worldwide. Humble and modest, Rohr often donated anonymously, and never requested his name on any of the institutions or buildings he funded, which is probably why most people have never heard of him. It is therefore said that no one really knows the true extent of his charity work. Sadly, Rohr passed away last week at age 86.
Words of the Week
The righteous promise little and do a lot; the wicked promise much and don’t do even a little.
– Talmud, Bava Metzia 87a