Gary Weisserman, Head of School
It is with profound sadness that we share the news of the passing this morning of Mr. Sam Zell, at the age of 81. The entire Bernard Zell community mourns this loss. Our hearts go out to his beloved wife, Helen, his sister Julie Baskes and her husband, Roger Baskes; his sister Leah Zell; his three children, Kellie Zell and son-in-law Scott Peppet, Matthew Zell, and JoAnn Zell; his nine grandchildren; and his entire extended family.
The son of Bernard and Rochelle Zielonka, Mr. Zell was born in Chicago four months after his parents’ arrival in the U.S. following their escape from Poland during the German invasion in 1939. Mr. Zell became an iconic figure in American life—in entrepreneurship, finance, real estate and philanthropy—and especially here in Chicago.
Among his passions was Jewish education, including Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, which was named after his father. "When it came time to try to identify what would be an appropriate acknowledgment of my father's life and what he stood for, my mother and I learned about Anshe Emet and what an extraordinary school it was,” he said. “We chose to endow the school in a manner that guarantees its future. It was an easy decision."
Last year, at our 75th anniversary, Mr. Zell shared with us his memories of his father and why our school is named after him. I encourage you to watch it now or at the link below, as it is symbolic of the unbelievable impact Mr. Zell has had on our community.
I am fortunate to have spent time with this remarkable man, and to benefit from his wisdom. I am, likewise, grateful for his transformative generosity towards our school. His support of Bernard Zell has provided a powerful and enduring legacy, ensuring excellence and access in Jewish education for generations to come.
May Sam Zell's family, and our entire community, find comfort among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem, and may his memory be for a blessing.