Updated Shiva Info:
SHIVA INFORMATION FOR THE SCHIFF FAMILY
Shiva visitations will be from Monday morning, April 5 until Friday morning, April 9.
2443 Meridian Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33140
Outdoor Visitations: 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Zoom Visitations: 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Outdoor Visitations: 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Outdoor Visitations: 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM
To receive the specific zoom links & for more information, please contact Risa Schiff at: (954) 270-0438
The funeral is being held Friday, April 2, 11 AM, at Mount Sinai Cemetery, 1125 NW 137th St in Miami.
From Rabbi Frederick Klein:
It is with a very heavy heart that I announce the passing of Rabbi Solomon Schiff. Rabbi Schiff was a rabbi’s rabbi, a foundation of our community, and a walking embodiment of good will to everyone. Rabbi Schiff was a pioneer in building the state of chaplaincy not only here but throughout America. He combined deep wells of Torah knowledge with an uncanny ability to engage others in his dreams through a story or a well-timed joke. But behind Rabbi Schiff’s smiling and pleasant demeanor was a person of substance, who saw his life through and through as a servant of God. With his wife Shirley always at his side, Rabbi Schiff was a constant presence for the Jewish and greater Miami community for over fifty years.
The righteous bloom like a date-palm; they thrive like a cedar in Lebanon, planted in the house of the LORD, they flourish in the courts of our God. In old age they still produce fruit; they are full of sap and freshness, attesting that the LORD is upright, my rock, in whom there is no wrong. (Psalm 92) This was Rabbi Schiff, who until his final days found boundless energy to continue to serve and grow, living a life of meaning and purpose.
It is hard to overstate his lifetime of involvements. He was a champion in combating poverty, promoting racial harmony, expanding interfaith affairs, creating interdenominational partnerships, advocating on behalf of Holocaust survivors, and supporting Israel. All this from a man who grew up on the Lower East Side and studied at Yeshivat Tiferet Yisrael with Rav Moshe Feinstein. His path was unique, and our Jewish world is better because of him.
As a personal mentor and close friend, I really have no words at this moment. I will deeply miss his counsel, support, mentoring and love. This for me is a very personal loss.
Baruch Dayan HaEmet.
From Jacob Solomon
I am writing to you this evening with a very heavy heart to share the news that our beloved teacher, colleague, community leader, and cherished friend, Rabbi Solomon Schiff has passed away, may the memory of the righteous be a blessing. Rabbi Schiff took ill a few months ago and his health rapidly declined over recent weeks. I spoke with him just prior to the holiday and he was totally engaged in a conversation about our upcoming Yom HaShoah commemoration and looking forward to a full recovery. Sadly, that was not to be the case.
It is very hard to convey the full measure of what Rabbi Schiff’s loss represents . . . to the champions of inter-faith relationships and cooperation in Miami; to the leadership of the Jewish community who learned from him and were inspired by him over decades; and to all of us who were privileged to have him as a loving and meaningful presence in our lives. For me personally, I am overwhelmed with memories of countless conversations, praying together at daily morning services, Torah lessons, homilies, jokes (most of which were funny), and especially his stories. No one could tell a story like Rabbi Schiff! We worked together for 40 years and he will forever remain a powerful and guiding influence in my life.
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Rabbi Solomon Schiff, who led interfaith efforts in Miami for decades, dies at 91
Rabbi Solomon Schiff, a pivotal force in building South Florida’s Jewish community who advocated for racial justice and built interfaith relationships locally and around the world, passed away Thursday after battling an illness. He was 91.
Schiff, who played a central role in the creation of the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach, always had a fine-told story and a well-timed joke. He was raised in an Orthodox Jewish immigrant household in the Lower East Side of New York City, but his wisdom and empathy transcended experiences and faiths.
For over 40 years, he served as the executive vice president of the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami. He was also the director of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation’s Community Chaplaincy Service since 1966. He led the South Florida Interfaith Workers Justice as the chairman and was instrumental in the county’s Community Relations Board, helping to heal racial divisions that cut deep when Miami’s political leaders snubbed Nelson Mandela in 1990.
Every single day with Schiff was sunny, says auto dealer executive and philanthropist Norman Braman.
“He was a dear friend,” said Braman, who worked closely with Schiff in building the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach in the late 1980s. “It’s really more than just the memorial with Rabbi Schiff. It’s the inspiration and the outreach to all of us who built the memorial and seeing it prosper in the manner that it did.”
Meeting with Pope John Paul II
Schiff extended his outreach to all faiths and people, perhaps none greater than in welcoming Pope John Paul II to Miami in September 1987. The pope preached unity against anti-Semitism, while sheltering from a thunderstorm before the Mass was cut short.
Behind the Jewish community’s effort to get the pope to partly recognize the church’s role in the persecution of Jews was Schiff, who faced Jewish picketers at his home, protesting the Vatican’s reluctance to recognize the state of Israel or save more Jews during the Holocaust.
Schiff saw the pope differently.
“He did all those things over time,” Schiff told the Miami Herald in 2005, recalling his meeting with the pope years earlier. “I don’t think you could expect him to act immediately.”
And that’s who Schiff was — patient but steadfast in what he believed was right, in both big and small ways. In one of his many letters to the editor published in the Herald, Schiff suggested last April that maybe post workers could help encourage mask-wearing by dropping a mask in every mailbox on their routes.
“He was a deeply religious and pious Jew, but he spent so much of his time and his efforts reaching out to people of other faiths, to build a community in the name of the one God, in which we were all dedicated to the same principles, to the same values and to the same priorities,” said Jacob Solomon, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.
Solomon said the pope’s visit was a “watershed moment” for Miami’s Jewish community.
“That was a really big deal. He saw that as an opportunity to kind of create a reset in the relationship between Catholic and Jewish communities,” Solomon said.
Similarly, he often spoke up against racial injustice. In 1963, during the civil rights battles, he helped author an unequivocal statement of equal rights as part of an interfaith action to denounce segregation and racial discrimination. The group then distributed the statement to all priests, rabbis and ministers in Greater Miami.
Stepping up during tourism boycott over Nelson Mandela snub
It was during the most controversial events that Schiff’s presence was felt the most. In 1990, Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami retracted a proclamation to memorialize a visit from anti-apartheid leader Mandela, after former Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez faced pressure by the Cuban American community over Mandela’s relationship with Fidel Castro.
The move, which was ultimately reversed, led to a massive tourism boycott of Miami from Black organizations around the country who demanded a public apology. Schiff was chairing the Metro-Dade Community Relations Board at the time and supported an openness to dialogue.
Under his leadership, the board became the first organization who was not part of the Black community to publicly support the demands from those pursuing the boycott. H.T. Smith, a Miami attorney who led the boycott, praised Schiff for his efforts at the time.
Schiff’s leadership earned him respect across the faiths. Over the years, Schiff always sided against injustice, from protesting the treatment of Haitian refugees at Krome in the 1980s to standing in solidarity with the Islamic faith at a downtown Miami rally in 2014.
“South Florida‘s Muslim community always relied on his friendship and compassionate support during the difficult times,” Shabbir Motorwala of the Coalition of South Florida Muslim Organizations said in a statement. “He stood up and led the vigils when Muslim places of worships as well as the community was targeted by hate crimes.”
Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski said Rabbi Schiff “helped make Miami the vibrant and diverse city it is today,” and often visited his office to introduce him to new counsels from all over the country. “He was a leader in forging interfaith alliances. In the ‘60s with Archbishop Coleman Carroll, he helped establish the Community Relations Board that helped bridge racial divides in our community,” Wenski recalled in a statement.
Over the years, Schiff met with U.S. presidents, Israeli prime ministers, a Polish pope, a Spanish king, the Dalai Lama and an NFL franchise owner.
His path to leadership began 91 years ago in Brooklyn, then wound through the Midwest to Miami Beach, where he became spiritual leader of the Orthodox Congregation Beth El in 1958.
He gave benedictions on the floor of the U.S. Senate, in the White House, and on the football field once named for his good friend, late Miami Dolphins owner Joe Robbie, who flew Schiff and his son to the 1985 Super Bowl on his private plane.
“He came from a very Orthodox traditional background. He’s a person who is able to transcend that background and is able to relate to people from all walks of life,” said Rabbi Fred Klein, director of Mishkan Miami at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and current executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami.
Said David Lawrence, a former Herald publisher and a leader in early childhood education: “One of God’s extra special people. A rabbi who taught us all so much, and did so with love and warmth and humor.”
Schiff is survived by his wife Shirley and their three sons. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Friday, April 2, at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery. After Sunday at sundown, his family will be receiving visitors in their home in the Shiva tradition.