A Cedar of Lebanon has fallen. We mourn the death of Rabbi Bob Samuels, a visionary, a dedicated Zionist and a pioneer of Reform Judaism in Israel.
Bob made Aliya in 1962 with his wife and three children, and immediately began to make his imprint on the land and the people. Through his leadership, the Leo Baeck Educational Centre in Haifa was established, which has become a model for integrating Jewish, Arab and Druze communities, along with senior citizens and underprivileged youth.
Bob embodied Reform Zionist principles. His family adopted Ethiopian refugees, helping them to adapt to their new home. He spoke with ahavat Yisrael in his opposition to the occupation. And he was a wise counsellor and mentor to so many – including his daughter-in-law Ayala who was ordained from the Jerusalem school of HUC-JIR.
In the midst of all these communal activities, he also managed to build a baseball field on Kibbutz Gezer and to build his family home in Ein Hod.
He will be deeply missed, and we send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Annette and his family. His legacy will live on in those who continue his pioneering work.