Mrs. Charlotte Rohr, a devoted mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who nurtured a family with philanthropic interests spanning the globe, died in her hometown of Bal Harbour, Fla., on Oct. 22 after a long illness. She was 78.

Known equally for her beauty and charm, Mrs. Rohr had a disarming penchant for displaying an inordinate amount of care and attention to friends and to those who sought her advice. Those who were close to her describe a regal figure with an infectious laugh who paid great attention to the details of the lives of those around her.

A woman proud of her heritage, she also publicly lived her Judaism in times and places where such displays were unheard of.

“Imagine a private house in 1960’s South America where you can see that there’s a sukkah in the yard, with people enjoying the food and the l’chaims and singing,” said Mrs. Danielle Gorlin Lassner, a close friend who first met Mrs. Rohr in early 1963 at a butcher shop in Bogota, Colombia. “People of all kinds who were not Jewish [were] looking in, yet she always celebrated her yiddishkeit with great pride.”

Born to Yekutiel Yehudah and Leah Kastner in 1929, the young Charlotte Kastner’s early years were spent in Mukachevo in present day Ukraine. A Belzer Chasid, her father was one of the founders of the dynasty’s synagogue in the city. Members of the family infused their lives with a tremendous faith in G‑d and love of every Jew.

During World War II, Mrs. Rohr was deported to Auschwitz, where she lost both her parents. Three of her seven siblings also perished during the war. After the war, she and her surviving siblings moved to Santiago, Chile.

In 1952, she met Mr. Sami Rohr, whose family had fled from Berlin to Switzerland and then France, later sending him to South America to make his mark on the world. That decade saw them become parents to a son, George, and two daughters, Evelyn and Lillian.

In an environment and during a time when Jewish observance was on the decline, the Rohrs’ No. 1 priority was to educate their children, both in the rigorous academic sense and in the deep care and responsibility the family felt toward the entirety of the Jewish people. They instructed their children to give generously and to always view the first 10 percent of their income as belonging to communal endeavors.

Mrs. Charlotte Rohr
Mrs. Charlotte Rohr

Mrs. Rohr was an enthusiastic partner in all of her husband’s philanthropic efforts, from the creation of the magnificent Adat Israel synagogue in Bogota to an untiring devotion to Israel through the United Jewish Appeal. At their request, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, appointed the first Chabad-Lubavitch emissary to Colombia in 1980.

Together, they gave birth to and nurtured an empire of Jewish outreach centers stretching from South America to Russia and North America to cyberspace. For her part, Mrs. Rohr, who spoke Czech, English, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Spanish and Yiddish, was an active member of the Women’s International Zionist Organization and gave of her time, effort and money to local communal causes.

Working in tandem, the Rohrs’ generosity only increased exponentially after their move to Miami in the late 1970s. In particular, they founded and nurtured the growth of the trend-setting, wildly successful Lubavitch outreach center in Bal Harbour known simply as The Shul, which honored the couple last year.

Rabbi Sholom Lipskar, the synagogue’s spiritual leader and Mrs. Rohr’s rabbi, referred to a verse from Psalms to convey the admiration many felt for her.

King David's description of true royalty, ‘The honor of a king’s daughter is in her modesty,’ most aptly captures her regal essence,” said Lipskar. “Always shying away from the limelight and honor which she so richly deserved, Mrs. Rohr was a paradigm of dignity and quiet grace.

“She set the highest standards worthy of emulation, and did it all in a refined and gentle way,” he continued. “Her presence will always be felt in her physical absence.”

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mr. Rohr and his son George invested heavily in Eastern Europe’s Jewish centers, sponsoring dozens of Chabad Houses.

“Judaism views the woman as the very foundation of the Jewish family,” said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the education arm of Chabad-Lubavitch, and a close family friend. “Mrs. Rohr was not only a very aristocratic woman and transmitter of Jewish values in her own home; her love and support of Jews the world over made her a princess of our people.”

Kotlarsky asserted that “when the history of Judaism in the 20th and 21st centuries will be written, Sami and Charlotte Rohr and their family will be recognized as pivotal forces behind a Jewish renaissance in many countries, cities and townlets throughout the world. Their unending generosity and dedication to their people have enabled countless individuals, families and communities to re-identify with their faith and strengthen their Jewish observance.”

Mr. and Mrs. Rohr shunned the public limelight, preferring instead to live a simple and quiet life. Outside of those who absolutely needed to know, most people were in the dark as to the full extent of the Rohr family’s philanthropy.

Instead, “they wanted their children to be educated mentchen,” said Lassner, “very strong in their Yiddishkeit along with a deep sense of the world.”

Mrs. Rohr, who was buried at Jerusalem’s Mt. of Olives cemetery on Wednesday, leaves behind husband Sami, son George, daughters Evelyn Katz and Lillian Tabacinic, and their families.