Rabbi S. Robert Ichay, the spiritual leader who prided himself on his service and relationships with others, died at home Monday. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer and was 83.
Although a highly respected spiritual leader in the Atlanta community, it was not uncommon for him to reach out personally to parishioners simply to check in.
He was a rarity among men, according to his friend Albert Maslia, who recruited Rabbi Ichay to Atlanta more than four decades ago. He was a humble man who saw himself as a servant above anything else, Maslia said.
"His impact on the Jewish community is incalculable because he was a friend and confident to basically everyone that he met," said Rabbi Hayyim Kassorla of the .
Before his move to Atlanta, Rabbi Ichay was the leader of a small Rhodian congregation in Salisbury Rhodesia for nine years. Born in Tunisia in 1929, Rabbi Ichay is now looked upon as a "living legend in the Atlanta Jewish Community," as one of the two chief architects of the congregation.
Rabbi Ichay was quoted as saying of the synagogue in 1969, "It was love at first sight."
His dream was to see more children in the congregation participating in Judaic Studies, Hebrew School and worship services, according to his online biography. He served the Congregation for more than 40 years before he was made the rabbi emeritus of the Congregation Or VeShalom.
Survivors include his wife Blanchette and his son David.
Funeral services will be held at Congregation Or VeShalom on Wednesday, March 21, at 12:30pm.
Interment will follow at Greenwood Cemetery.
Shiva services will take place at Or VeShalom at 7:00pm on Wednesday, March 21, and Thursday, March 22, as well as Sunday and Monday, March 25 and 26.