Samuel Daniel

Samuel Daniel 1904-1962

Family- Spouse: he had 4 wives; Children: three children by his first wife

Daniel was born in Lithuania. When he and his two brothers found out the Russians were going to draft him into the army, they escaped. Daniel arrived in New York, found what work he could and went to night school to learn English. He already spoke French, German, Russian, Yiddish and Hebrew.

His first wife died shortly after the birth of their twins. At the insistence of his dying wife, he promised and later married his wife's sister, but they were ill matched and later divorced. He then married Shirley who helped to raise the children. After Shirley died, he married a fourth time.

Daniel first worked in the furrier business but then opened a furniture store. He moved to Durham from Chicago in 1928 after meeting Mr. Zuckerman who was a furrier in Durham and who had offered him to move. In 1932, he led the Free Loan or Hebrew Benevolent Society to help during the Depression. He was remembered as an "old fashioned Jew" who "worked for the good of the community." (Gilbert Katz interview with Jewish historian Leonard Rogoff, 1987).

In World War One, he fought in the British Army against Jabotinsky, an important figure in the formation of the Israeli state.

Daniel was president of the Chevra Kadisha from the 1930's on. According to longtime Durham resident Leon Dworsky, he was a benevolent dictator who could be abrupt but also compassionate. He would not accept a 'no' when he called on people to serve as pall bearers or help out with other duties. People listened and obeyed when he spoke.

He was also very charming and was a "great dancer." He was very knowledgeable in Jewish Law and always insisted that strict kashrut standards be maintained in the synagogue so that all could feel comfortable to eat there. He was devoted to the Jewish community. Dworsky remembers being called to Duke Hospital when Daniel was dying of cancer. Despite being in agonizing pain, he was sitting up in bed making sure that all records for the Chevra Kadisha and the Free Loan Society were being transferred to the appropriate person.