Sister of Slain Detroit Synagogue President Samantha Woll: No One 'More Caring or Thoughtful Than You'

October 22, 2023, 9:05 PM by  Allan Lengel

Samantha Woll (Linkedin photo)

The fact every pew on Sunday afternoon at the Hebrew Memorial Chapel in Oak Park was tightly packed, and at least 100 people had to stand during the funeral service, came as no surprise to anyone who knew the magnetic Samantha "Sam" Woll.

Ditto for the loving, flattering eulogies, one after another, that made the shocking loss of the 40-year-old seem all the more painful.

"You were the kindest, most generous human I've ever met," said Woll's younger sister, Dr. Monica Woll Rosen. "Whenever someone would say, 'tell me about your sister,' I would answer, 'there was literally not anyone more caring or thoughtful than you."

On Saturday morning, Woll, president of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, was found fatally stabbed outside her home in Detroit's Lafayette Park neighborhood, just east of I-75.

The fact it happened in the midst of the tense Israel-Hamas conflict, has raised concerns, both at home, nationally and internationally, that the murder might be related. But just shortly after the funeral ended, Detroit Police Chief James White issued a statement saying the department, with the assistance of the FBI, was pursuing leads, but had no evidence to date that the slaying of the University of Michigan graduate was related to antisemitism.

Born and raised in Metro Detroit, she was described during the service as a person with artistic talent in areas like painting and jewelry making, and someone passionate about the city of Detroit and the outdoors.

She was involved in local, state, and national politics, and worked on campaigns for Democrats, Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, state Sen. Stephanie Chang and Attorney General Dana Nessel. She was also described as someone who worked to unite people.

"I know if Sam was here," Nessel said in her eulogoy, "she'd be standing behind me and be like,'whatever you say, it's going to be fine, it's going to be great.' And then afterwards, no matter how bad it would be, she'd be like, 'that's the best speech ever.'"

Nessel said the statements made about Woll "are all just so remarkably similar. You know Sam was said to be kind and caring and compassionate, sincere, loving, a tenacious advocate with a passion for equal treatment for all people in every space. This was not an opinion. This was a fact."

Nessel also talked about Woll's great energy and her ability to seemingly be everywhere.

"I've been looking back at pictures of her. She was at every campaign event, political protest, every religious service, every ribbon cutting." She then jokingly added: "I think I saw her in a picture of the moon landing."

"Samantha Woll may have been the nicest person I have ever met or will ever meet in my lifetime," Nessel said."Now, I know as of this minute we still don't know who the monster is who took Sam from us or what possible reason there would be for God to allow a person such as her to be taken so soon, but Sam did more for our community, our state, our world, our lives in her short time here on earth than most will ever accomplish in 1000 lifetimes." 

Rabbi Ariana Silverman of the downtown synagogue, said "Sam's incredible smile was contagious, and so no matter what I was doing, I couldn't help but smile back."

"Sam had an amazing willingness to listen carefully to each and every person with whom she spoke," said the rabbi. "She certainly had her own convictions, but she would really listen to different ideas and had the remarkable ability to say, 'let me thinkg about it and I will get back to you.'"

Rabbi Asher Lopatin noted how she had a way of bringing people together.

'We have in this room Muslims and Hindus, Catholics and Christians and Jews, and all kinds of races and everyone loved Sam and was affirmed by Sam."

Woll is the daughter of Drs. Margo and Douglas Woll, sister to Drs. Monica Woll Rosen and brother-in-law Ben, and beloved aunt to Solomon, Gabriel (Gavi), and Mira, according to her obituary.

To watch a video of the full service click here.


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