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Sami Rohr, Businessman and Philanthropist, Dies

Sami Rohr, a major philanthropist whose giving created and sustained hundreds of Chabad Lubavitch houses around the world, died at the age of 86.

Rohr, who died Sunday in South Florida and was buried Tuesday in Jerusalem, reportedly gave some $250 million to Jewish causes, especially Jewish education and culture, throughout the world through his Rohr Family Foundation.

Rohr, a former Colombian Jewish real estate mogul who self-identified as modern Orthodox, gave tens of millions of dollars to Chabad along with his family to establish outposts throughout the former Soviet Union, on college campuses and at remote spots around the world. In 2006, JTA noted that the Rohr family reportedly underwrote the salaries of some 500 emissaries, and had a foundation specifically to help Chabad rabbis on U.S. campuses construct buildings.

Rohr, who largely preferred avoiding publicity, was publicly honored by Chabad for the first time in 2006. That same year, his children named a prize for Jewish literature named after him in honor of his 80th birthday.

The Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature was awarded for the first time in 2007 and honors the contribution of contemporary writers in exploring and transmitting Jewish values.

Rohr grew up in Berlin but left the country with his family after Kristallnacht. He lived in Antwerp and Basel during World War II, later moving to Bogata, Colombia, where he made his fortune in real estate. He and his late wife, Charlotte, moved to Florida in 1981.

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