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Remembrance Day 2023 – Remembering Rabbi Dr. Samuel Cass 

BY HANNAH SROUR-ZACKON

With Remembrance Day around the corner, this week we pay tribute to a member of our community- Rabbi Dr. Samuel Cass z”l—who served as army chaplain to Canadian Jews in World War II and was for many years the Rabbi of the community hall service at the Shaar. 

 

Born in Toronto, Rabbi Cass gradated from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1933 after which he served congregations in Vancouver and Seattle before World War II. He would also occasionally substitute for Rabbi Herman Abramowitz at the Shaar during the latter’s summer vacation. His relationship to the Shaar was cemented when he married Annabel Goldfine who was also of the synagogue’s community. 

 

In 1942, Rabbi Cass along with Rabbi Gershon Levi (a past educational director of the Shaar) were named as the two full-time Senior Jewish Chaplain to the Canadian Armed Forces, with Rabbi Cass stationed at home. Later, in 1944, Rabbis Cass and Levi swapped positions, and Rabbi Cass was sent overseas. Among his many services to Jewish soldiers, he oversaw religious services and holiday celebrations. In 1944, he organized a Chanukah party in Antwerp for soldiers as well as for 250 local children.  

 

 

In 1945, he organized a seder in Brussels. 

 

 

In March of 1945, he held a service in Kleve, Germany outside the Reichswald Forest – which in February of that year had been the site of the Battle of the Reichswald fought by Canadian and British forces (allied victory). Following this Battle, it became the site of the largest Commonwealth cemetery in Germany.  

 

Rabbi Cass’ service was to make its mark beyond his chaplaincy services to Canadian soldiers – in that same year, he was the first Jewish chaplain to enter concentrations camps which were liberated by the Canadian Army and played an instrumental role in rehabilitating the survivors, and in helping Belgium and Dutch Jewry.  

After the War, he was honourably discharged with the rank of Major and would then go on to work for many years as the Director of Hillel before his tragic death in 1975. 

 

Further Reading 

Rabbi Herman Abramowitz and Jewish Chaplaincy Services During World War II 

 

 

Monday, June 17, 2024 11 Sivan 5784