Funeral service for Rabbi Sam Karff held Wednesday

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Funeral services were held Wednesday for Samuel Karff, the Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Beth Israel and a well-known Houston civil right advocate.

Karff died Saturday morning after a brief illness, according to his family. He was 88.

The service was private and was limited to immediate family members, but the full tribute is available in the video above.

The ceremony was held at the Congregation Beth Israel Sanctuary and was led by Rabbi David A. Lyon, Rabbi Adrienne P. Scott and Cantor Star Trompeter.

Karff was known around the city for being one third of the 'amigos' along with Archbishop Fiorenza and Reverend Bill Lawson, father of ABC13's own Melanie Lawson.


The three friends began the fight for justice together in the city of Houston about 27 years ago. They worked on many projects together like the public defender's office and a coalition for the homeless, and were also often called upon for civil rights projects by Mayor Sylvester Turner, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Commissioner Rodney Ellis.

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Watch the mayor of Houston pay tribute to faith leader Rabbi Karff.





The Karff family released a statement, saying:

"The Karff family appreciates the outpouring of support and affection for our beloved father and grandfather."

Karff most recently attended the funeral of Houston-native George Floyd alongside Rev. Lawson.

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Click play to hear Congressmen Al Green share memories of Rabbi Karff.





In April 2019, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston unveiled the 'Plaza of Respect' which featured the '3 amigos' on interactive individual pillars.

Interfaith Ministries released a statement, saying:

"Interfaith Ministries is deeply saddened by the death of Rabbi Samuel Karff, beloved Houston faith leader and Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Beth Israel. We share our deepest condolences with his family and all who loved him.
Rabbi Karff's legacy is honored through a Pillar of Light on Interfaith Ministries' Brigitte and Bashar Plaza of Respect. He will be fondly remembered for his wisdom, gentle spirit, and commitment to being a voice for the marginalized."
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