Rabbi Samuel Silver spent his life laughing, even until the very end.
"He woke up the morning that he died, laughing," his wife Elaine recalled Sunday. "And I said, 'What are you laughing about?' And he said, 'I just told myself a story.'
"He had an unbelievable sense of humor."
Silver, the founder of two synagogues in South Florida and one in Connecticut and the father of prominent civil-rights attorney Barry Silver, died during an afternoon nap Friday at age 95.
Silver founded Congregation L'Dor Va-Dor in Lake Worth 10 years ago. Eighteen years before that, he founded Temple Sinai in Delray Beach. About 50 years ago, he founded another Temple Sinai in Stamford, Conn.
A jokester and unifier of different religious faiths, Silver was also a former National Chaplain of Jewish War Veterans and an occasional newspaper columnist. He was called the "radioactive rabbi" because of his time on radio shows in Florida and Connecticut.
He was also a president of the Delray Beach Clergy Association.
Samuel Silver is survived by five sons, 14 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren with another on the way.
His funeral is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. today at Temple Sinai in Delray Beach, 2475 W. Atlantic Avenue.
Those wishing to make a donation in Silver's memory are asked to give to Congregation L'Dor Va-Dor, 7400 Lake Worth Rd., Lake Worth, Fla., 33467, or simply donate to their favorite charity.
Published in The Palm Beach Post from May 11 to May 16, 2008