Inside the OU

Torah Dedicated in Memory of Anne Samson

Hundreds filled the streets of Los Angeles this past August for a double Torah dedication by the Samson family in memory of Lee Samson’s late wife, Anne, a”h. The dedication coincided with Anne’s first yahrtzeit.

A longtime pillar of the Orthodox community, Lee was the first director of West Coast NCSY and helped establish the West Coast branch of the Orthodox Union. Together with Anne, Lee created the first NCSY summer program: Camp NCSY. Even after Lee left NCSY to pursue a successful career in the business world, he and Anne continued to support and remain a vital part of the OU and NCSY.

torah dedication

Lee Samson holding one of the sifrei Torah at the double Torah dedication by the Samson family held in Los Angeles this past August in memory of his late wife, Anne, a”h. Photo: David Michael Photography

Last year, the Ben Zakkai Honor Society’s NCSY National Scholarship Dinner celebrated Anne’s legacy. In Anne’s memory, NCSY’s enormously popular Israel summer program for public school teenagers, The Jerusalem Journey, was renamed The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey.

Allen Fagin, executive vice president of the OU, who was present at the Torah dedication, explained: “Renaming The Jerusalem Journey as The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey is truly a fitting and moving tribute, not only to Anne’s memory, but to her enduring legacy of chesed and ma’asim tovim.”

Also present at the Torah dedication ceremony were Martin Nachimson, president of the OU, and Dr. Steven Tabak, president, OU West Coast. Lifelong friends of the Samsons, Dr. David and Vivian Luchins, chairs of the Ben Zakkai Honor Society’s NCSY National Scholarship Dinner, and Isabelle and David Novak participated as well. Isabelle, who was an NCSYer under Lee and Anne, serves as the chair of the Ben Zakkai Honor Society.

The two Torah scrolls were carried in a procession to the Young Israel of North Beverly Hills where one Torah scroll will be kept. (The second will be kept in the Samson home.) At the dedication ceremony in the synagogue and at the elegant reception that followed, each of the three Samson children—Dani, Aliza and Tali—spoke about their mother’s impact on them and on the Jewish community at large.

“The day was filled with feelings of profound gratitude to the Samson family for all they have done for Los Angeles and world Jewry,” said Rabbi Steven Weil, senior managing director of the OU, who participated in the event. “The day was a magnificent tribute to Anne who was our role model. She embodied modesty, grace and a love of tefillah and Torah. Lee, Dani, Aliza and Tali’s tribute to Anne beautifully brought out the dignity, sensitivity and splendor of this eishet chayil.”

This article was featured in the Winter 2014 issue of Jewish Action.