Hundreds filled the streets of Los Angeles on August 24 for a double Torah dedication by Lee Samson and his family in memory of his late wife Anne a”h. The dedication coincided with Anne’s first yahrtzeit.
Longtime pillars of the Orthodox community, Lee became the first director of West Coast NCSY in 1971 and helped establish the West Coast branch of the Orthodox Union. Together with Anne a”h, Lee created the first NCSY summer program: Camp NCSY. Even after he left NCSY to pursue a successful career in the business world, Lee and Anne continued to support—and remained a vital part of—the Orthodox Union and NCSY.
In Anne’s memory, NCSY’s enormously popular Israel summer program for public school teenagers, The Jerusalem Journey, was renamed the Anne Samson Family Jerusalem Journey.
Allen Fagin, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, who was present at the Torah dedication, explained: “Renaming The Jerusalem Journey as the Anne Samson Family 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.”
Last year, the Ben Zakkai Honor Society’s NCSY National Scholarship Dinner celebrated Anne’s legacy as well.
The two Torah scrolls were carried in a procession from a nearby outdoor venue 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 reception also included a stirring musical tribute to Anne a”h, which included several contributions from Lee Samson himself.
Rabbi Steven Weil, senior managing director of the Orthodox Union, also participated in the day’s festivities and tribute.
“The day was filled with feelings of profound gratitude to the Samson family for all they have done for L.A. and world Jewry,” Rabbi Weil said. “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 eishes chayil.”