Sarah Landesman, who with her husband, Avrom Landesman, helped start the Woodside Synagogue Ahavas Torah, died Sept. 22. She was 78.
“My mom had the unique ability to make everyone feel special and loved. My mom was an integral part of this community for over 50 years,” said her daughter, Yocheved Landesman. “She was a true paragon of chesed.”
Sarah Landesman was born in Poland. Her family left when she was 3 years old, after the invasion of Germany. The family fled to Lithuania and was soon forced to leave home again. This time, they headed for Japan via a long train trip through Russia.
About nine months later, the family settled in Shanghai and lived in the Jewish ghetto there, escaping the worst of the Holocaust.
Believing she had been rescued for a reason, Sarah Landesman made sure she did something good with her life, her husband said during the funeral. He said she had three loves that guided her life: “Love of God, love for people, love for life.”
Rabbi Moshe Walter of Woodside Synagogue called her “a righteous woman and a great woman.”
The Landesmans were one of a few families in the early 1960s to meet for worship services in the Summit Hill apartment complex’s party room in Silver Spring. They converted the party room into Summit Hill Shul, paying $1 a year in rent. Avrom Landesman was its first president.
Many of the original families moved to nearby Woodside, and the Landesman basement became an auxiliary Woodside minyan for Shabbat.
Sarah Landesman was described by many as the mother to all the children of Summit Hill and Woodside synagogues. “She was the mother of the greater community,” said her son, Uri Landesman, during the funeral.
In her later life, Sarah Landesman suffered many illnesses, but continued to look on the bright side, her husband said.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by children Uri and Deborah Landesman, Devorah and Dean Grayson, Nisonel and Chani Landesman, Yocheved Landesman; and eight grandchildren.
Sarah Landesman was buried in Beit Shemesh, Israel.