THE Sydney community is mourning Sam Moss, a major communal donor, respected businessman and Auschwitz survivor, who died at the age of 90 last week after a short battle with cancer.
Moss and his good friend and business partner Joseph Brender donated money together to a host of organisations in Australia and Israel, including most of the Jewish schools in Sydney and Tel Aviv University, where a wing for the social sciences was named after the pair.
They also received honorary doctorates together from the university.
The pair launched Katies fashion stores in the 1950s, before selling them to Coles Myer in 1985. More recently, they bought textile businesses together.
Moss has been remembered this week as a man with a passion for the Jewish community and Israel.
“Every year he would go to Israel,” his son Meir told The AJN.
“During the first Iraq war while scud missiles were landing in Tel Aviv he went there to be with his friends because that was him.”
Good friend Frank Lowy, who met Moss when he first came to Australia, said he will miss him forever.
“We became soulmates and our friendship flourished over the years and extended to our children and wider family,” Lowy told The AJN this week.
“We helped and advised each other whenever that became necessary, right up until his passing.
“The biggest thing with Sam was that he gave all of himself to whatever cause he supported.”
Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was also a friend of Moss.
The pair spoke just recently and Turnbull attended a minyan at the family home this week.
But, as revealed in a documentary of Moss’s life made by his family, he may never have made it to Australia if one man hadn’t saved his life during the Holocaust.
While Moss was in a concentration camp, extremely ill with typhus, his father asked Oscar Heller, a Jewish man in charge of handing out food at the camp, for extra soup for his son.
“He was lying on straw,” Heller recalled in the documentary. “[There was] nothing left of him except long bones. No meat, no flesh, nothing. Bones. He couldn’t open his eyes.”
Moss said during the documentary that Heller was his saviour.
“By him giving some soup to my father, I think he saved my life,” Moss remembered.
“I really am sure that if I wouldn’t have got that bit of extra nourishment I wouldn’t have made it because I was in a very bad way.”
After the Holocaust, Moss spent 18 months in hospital before he moved to Australia in May, 1948.
Meir Moss told The AJN this week that his father died only two minutes after his cousin Ellen Farben arrived in Australia from New York and whispered to his father that she was by his side.
“He was diagnosed with cancer to his liver about eight weeks ago,” Meir said.
“We had a chance for the whole family to come together and say goodbye to him. He had all the family around him when he passed away in his room.”