Samuel M. L. Schafler & Sara Rita Edell

Sam Schafler was a rabbinical student at JTS the year when I, Sara Edell, arrived from Toronto, Canada to NY to be a student at the Teacher’s Institute. Before the camp season of 1950, the opening summer at Camp Ramah in the Poconos, we met for the first time at a pre-camp meeting in the second floor lounge of the Seminary building. Since Sam was the only one I did not know I introduced myself to him on the elevator after the meeting.

As it happened we both needed to be in New York on the first day off, he to get his glasses repaired and I to see my sister Ethel. We left camp by car with our music director Aharon Entin who dropped Irwin Feldman, Sam and me off at Sam’s home to overnight. I slept on the couch in his living room and awoke to see his father walking back and forth with tallit and tefillin as he davenned.

For next day off Sam asked me if I would hitch hike with him to visit his mother, sister and aunt at their summer cottage, some 300 miles from camp. We did that enjoying one another’s company. All the rest of the days off we spent together becoming good friends. We were counselors and teachers; each also headed one of the camp programs, I girls’ sports, he nature counselor.

Not long after our return to the Seminary Sam proposed marriage and set a date for my answer. Since I had a hard time making decisions of such importance, I brought my mother to meet him. He came to Toronto for Pesach and we were married in fall.

But what was most interesting is that Sam revealed to me that when he saw me at the Ramah pre-camp meeting the wild thought crossed his mind that he was going to marry me. We had a 40-year wonderful marriage and raised six children spending twenty-four summers in leadership positions in four Ramah camp sites with all or some of our children. Sam died in 1991 at age 62 from cancer while he was the acting president of the Hebrew College of Boston.

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