Rabbi Sam Kassin,
President of Chai Ami
Rabbi Sam Kassin was born in New York in 1944. He was two years old when his family relocated to Miami and 16 when he was sent to study in Yeshivas Ner Israel. At the age of 20, he moved to Israel where he married one year later.
The Kassins were deeply involved in outreach in the Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood in Jerusalem, which then rated low on the socioeconomic scale. In the course of his activities, Rabbi Kassin founded a shul, managed numerous charity projects, and delivered Torah classes to neighborhood residents.
In 1977, the Kassins traveled to Brooklyn where R’ Sam served as principal of the first Sephardic middle school. Following seven years of devoted effort and successes with the Sephardic community, the Kassins returned to Israel, keenly aware how much work remained to be done in order to strengthen Diaspora Jewry. In Israel, he founded the Sephardi Midrash Center, a Rabbinical training institute to certify rabbis to teach, serve, and administer Halachic rulings in Diaspora communities around the world.
Since its inception, the Sephardi Midrash Center has dispatched over 1000 rabbis to various communities in the Diaspora, and these energetic, talented men have helped build, develop, and enrich Jewish communities the world over. Today, dozens of Jewish communities are flourishing thanks to Rabbi Kassin’s visionary efforts. In the wake of the mass Russian emigration to Israel following the fall of the Iron Curtain, he launched a massive campaign among the Bukharian Jewish community, founding preschools and elementary schools in Bukhara and strongly promoting aliyah to Israel.
In Year 2000, Rabbi Kassin was awarded the Jerusalem Prize for Community Leadership in the Diaspora in recognition of its efforts to bolster the connection of Jews to their homeland and heritage. Today, nearly 30 years later, there are some 200 rabbis serving in communities around the world, as well as dozens of chazzans and teachers who travel annually to support Jewish communities around the world.
In 2014, Rabbi Kassin officially founded Chai Ami Charity and Chesed for Zion, a non-profit organization assisting disadvantaged Jews in Israel, and he presently serves as President of the organization.