Rabbi Karff’s First Yahrzteit


Rabbi Karff’s First Yahrzteit

From the desk of Rabbi David Lyon

On Sunday, August 15th, we observed the first yahrtzeit anniversary of Rabbi Samuel E. Karff’s death. Many of us will say, “I can’t believe it’s already been a year.” In fact, it’s been a lifetime of memories with a rabbi, scholar, friend, and guide who made an indelible impression on us. Gathered with his daughters and family members at the grave, we read Psalms and recited prayers that reflected Sam’s piety, goodness, and humanity.

“Who may abide in Your house?” the Psalmist asked. “Those who are upright; who do justly; who speak the truth within their hearts. Who give their word and come what may, do not retract” (from Psalm 15). Rabbi Karff was a man of his word and his deed. Though some answers were more difficult to accept when challenges were deep, his counsel found its source in Torah teachings. He was a rabbi whose truth was without qualification.

So, the Psalmist assured us, “I have set the Eternal always before me; God is at my side; I shall not be moved. Therefore, does my heart exult and my soul rejoice; my being is secure” (from Psalm 16). Rabbi Karff’s personal encounters with us provided everything we needed and all that we could have. A good life cut short is tragic; but a great life lived long is a blessing. We can retrieve from death that which can never be taken away from us, namely, memories of a life well-lived.

In the last few weeks of his life, Sam said to me, “When death comes, I will feel sad, but I will not feel cheated.” In this instance when we still learn from his counsel, let us not feel sad for what is no more. Let us feel grateful for what we shared with our dear rabbi, and what we continue to hold in our hearts as long as we, too, pursue a life well-lived.

יהי זכרון ברוך
May the memory of Rabbi Samuel E. Karff
be a source of blessing to us now and always.


Rabbi Karff’s First Yahrzteit 3