Sa­muel Ro­drigues-Pereira

BORN MANCH­ESTER, MARCH 10, 1929. DIED MANCH­ESTER, FE­BRU­ARY 2, 2009, AGED 79.

The Jewish Chronicle - - Obituaries -

AM U C H - L O V E D MIN­IS­TER in Re­form com­mu­ni­ties and a f i ne He­brew scholar, R a b b i S a muel “ S a mmy” R o d - r i g u e s - P e r e i r a c a me f r o m a Sephardi rab­bini­cal back­ground. His grand­fa­ther, Ha­ham Dr Salomon Ro­drigues-Pereira, Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Hol­land, had stood in asAshke­nazi Chief Rabbi of the Hague for six years.

His fa­ther, Rev Ben­jamin Ro­driguesPer­eira, came to Eng­land in 1910 as ju­nior min­is­ter, and then min­is­ter, of Manch­ester’s Span­ish and Por­tuguese Jews’ Con­gre­ga­tion.

In 1929 he moved to Rams­gate Syn­a­gogue, Kent, where Sammy, the youngest of three chil­dren, was born.

Al­though Sammy’s fa­ther re­mained min­is­ter at Rams­gate un­til re­tir­ing in 1966, the fam­ily moved dur­ing the Sec­ond World War to Manch­ester, where Sammy at­tended Manch­ester Gram­mar School, fol­lowed by a clas­sics de­gree at Cam­bridge.

Af­ter na­tional ser­vice in the early 1950s, he stud­ied at Jews’ Col­lege, Lon­don, gain­ing his chazan’s cer­tifi­cate. He took his first post as as­sis­tant chazan with the Sephardi Con­gre­ga­tion in then Sal­is­bury, Rhode­sia.

Re­turn­ing to Manch­ester five years later, he be­came part-time min­is­ter at the Sephardi Syn­a­gogue in Cheetham Hill, while teach­ing Jewish stud­ies at King David School and He­brew at Hop­wood Hall, a Catholic train­ing col­lege.

In 1968 he mar­ried Anita Gold­stone, née Pri­est­ley, a widow with three young sons, to whom he be­came a loving step­fa­ther.

In 1970 he joined the Re­form Syn­a­gogues of Great Bri­tain. From Manch­ester Re­form Syn­a­gogue, he moved to Black­pool Re­form in 1976. In 1978 he came south to Radlett and Bushey Re­form in Hert­ford­shire.

Ill health forced him to step down in 1984 but he helped out at Hamp­stead Re­form, Mid­dle­sex New and Kol Chai, Har­row, where he be­came part-time min­is­ter in 1987.

He re­tired in 2000 as emer­i­tus rabbi and con­tin­ued teach­ing un­til again stopped by ill health. In 2007 he re­turned with his wife to Manch­ester, to be near his late brother’s and sis­ter’s fam­i­lies.

His Re­form ca­reer saw him use his Jewish knowl­edge to the full. His pro­found He­brew schol­ar­ship led to his ap­point­ment by the As­sem­bly of Re­form Rab­bis to proof­read their new 1977 prayer book, Forms of Prayer, and the re­vised 2008 ver­sion. He taught rab­bini­cal stu­dents at Leo Baeck Col­lege af­ter be­ing or­dained there in 1981.

An in­spi­ra­tional teacher with an en­cy­clopaedic knowl­edge of To­rah, Tal­mud and midrash, he over­came his nat­u­ral dif­fi­dence when en­gaged with oth­ers in teach­ing and, es­pe­cially, when con­duct­ing a ser­vice or lead­ing the com­mu­nity in song. His deep voice, al­lied to his ex­ten­sive knowl­ege, made an out­stand­ing im­pres­sion.

Open-minded and ap­proach­able, he en­cour­aged dis­cus­sion with his pupils, whether for bar and bat­mitz­vah or con­ver­sion. He also spoke at St Luke’s Church, Pin­ner, taught He­brew to nuns at Sed­g­ley Catholic Col­lege and was in­volved with stu­dents at the his­toric lo­cal Chal­lon­ers School.

He is sur­vived by his wife and her fam­ily.

Rabbi Tony Bay­field, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Re­form Move­ment, writes: Sammy Ro­drigues-Pereira was the Re­form Move­ment’s En­cy­clopae­dia Ju­daica and the rab­bis’ rabbi. Any col­league could turn to him for in­for­ma­tion and he would sup­ply it, in­stantly, cor­rectly and without ever mak­ing one feel in­ad­e­quate or em­bar­rassed. That is be­cause he was also, supremely, a men­sch.

Rabbi Sa­muel Ro­drigues-Pereira: fine voice and deep Jewish learn­ing

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