A Legend In His Time: Rabbi Shmuel Kunda z”l


shmuel-kundaIt is with great sadness that we report the passing of Rabbi Shmuel Kunda z”l, a legendary mechanech who, in original and uplifting ways, inspired generations of youngsters and adults with his creative chinuch presentations and productions.

He was 66 years old.

Rav Shmuel, together with his wife Naomi, built a beautiful family of bnei and bnos Torah.

Rav Shmuel, formerly of Boro Park, Brooklyn, resided for the last while in Lakewood, NJ, and then Cleveland. He was born in Shaghai and later came over to the United States.

Starting his career as a Pirchei leader in Boro Park, Rabbi Kunda became a world-renowned mechanech, who over the years released books and tapes that inspired both children and adults around the world.

Rabbi Kunda was a son of Rav Zalman Kunda zt”l, a prominent Alter Mirrer who married his rebbetzin, of Mishpachas Podrabinik, in Shanghai where Rav Shmuel was born in 1946 before they left for America.

Rav Shmuel was a leader of the Boro Park Pirchei (14th Avenue branch) and founder of the Zeirei minyan led by Rav Baruch Saks for many years.

A talmid of the Mirrer Yeshiva in Flatbush, Rav Shmuel was especially close to the rosh yeshiva, Rav Shmuel Berenbaum, and the mashgiach Rav Hirsh Feldman, zichronam livracha.

Upon his marriage in 1970, Rav Shmuel began his teaching career as fifth grade rebbi at  Yeshiva Tiferes Torah of Boro Park led by Rabbi Shaya Jacobson. Those early talmidim can attest to his energy and spirit which, combined with his artistic talents and storytelling abilities, lifted them out of their adolescent daydreaming and imbued in them the cheishek to grow in Torah.

A born mechanech, Rav Shmuel was able to connect to kids of all ages, and whether it was through his tapes and storybooks, at his summer camp, or in his classroom, the humorous man with the passion for Torah always connected.

He personified the ben Torah who revels in learning yet can joke about life and personify normality. He helped mold the Torah world of today and we owe him a great debt.

A man of truly unparalleled talent, Rav Shmuel was a trailblazer in his field. His works have never been duplicated and they continue to inspire and uplift countless people to this day.

Mrs. Kunda, who passed away two years ago, was an integral partner of Rav Shmuel’s work, serving as the consummate eizer kenegdo to her husband.

Rabbi Kunda will be sorely missed by the many people whose hearts he touched and who he inspired with his smile, his good cheer, his warm words of chizuk, and his creativity.

Rabbi Kunda’s many albums and children’s tapes include When Zaidy Was Young Part 1 and 2, Boruch Learns His Brochos, The Magic Yarmulke,  A Ton of Mon, Boruch Learns About Shabbos, The Longest Pesach, There’s Zaidy, Zaidy’s Great Idea, Where’s Zaidy, The Talking Coins, The Royal Rescue, and The Miraculous Menorah.

Rabbi Kunda was the indisputable leader in Jewish entertainment for children, also authoring many famous and acclaimed titles.

Rabbi Kunda was a remarkable artist, author, composer, lyricist and actor, and he utilized the gifts granted to him by the Ribono Shel Olam to imbue children and adults with an appreciation of Torah and mitzvos.

In addition, Rabbi Kunda also inspired and educated many youngsters during his years as director of Camp Ne’arim in the Pocono Mountains.

Rav Shmuel is survived by his children and grandchildren who follow in his ways.

The levaya will be held Wednesday, at 1 p.m., at the Seventh Street Holocaust Memorial Chapel of Congregation Sons of Israel in Lakewood, NJ.

Yehi zichro boruch.

{Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Boruch Dayan Haemes. He lived here in Cleveland with his son for the last several years, and his smile and zest for living were loved by children of all ages. Yehi Zichro Boruch.

  2. Many times when people pass on, their lives are somehow altered in what is written about them. What you have printed is not only absolutely accurate, but a real testimony to Rabbi Kunda’s essence. I’m 44 and thoroughly enjoy his tapes to this day and know them all by heart. His compositions are simplistic and musically brilliant at the same time. His poetry is bar none. Those entertainers who came after him can never duplicate him. Yehi Zichro Baruch.

  3. What a giant, It hurts so much, he had a heart of gold. We needs such people who can connect with the youth and uplift them, what a talent, what a loss

  4. I remember Rav Shmuel back in the days of Camp Agudah and Camp Hadar Hatorah…an extremely talented man in so many areas…Torah,Sports and Fun…he will be sorely missed…a very special Man…

  5. My children and nephews/nieces spent much of Chol Hamoed being mezmerized by Rav Shmuel Kunda’s tapes, since we just had them transferred to our ipod after so many years of just having them on tape. (I don’t pasken shailos on ipods, each one should ask their own LOR)
    “Yamohhhhhhhhd”, “My Papa eats a pasta” “I am Mr. Osbourne” were repeated constantly over Yom Tov (actually the one who played Mr. Osbourne was niftar young, was a relative of Rav Shmuel Kunda and was a special neshoma as well.)
    R Shmuel was such a gaon in creativity, humor (which the adults adored but most were easy enough for children to understand). Then there were some jokes that were only for adults, “And that’s a campaign promise!”
    Who is going to be mechadesh more Cousin Lemel bar mitzvah or Anshei Kartofel stories?
    Or, how about, “Dogitis”?
    With all his humor, he added hashkafa too.
    We will miss Rav Shmuel and could use more kosher entertainment to combat all the media out there.
    A loyal fan.

  6. It is an extremely heartbreaking time for all of us who grew up with reb shmuel as our mentor.For all of us who grew up in camp naarim there are everlasting memories of reb shmuels extraordinary talent.on a whim he would act out a hilarious skit or match gramm for gramm with the best talents in camp.together with his unforgetable wife a”h they built a beautiful torah home.Even when he wasnt well his legendary sense of humor never left him.reb shmuel, im sure i speak for all the chevra from camp when i say “we’ll never forget what you meant to us.

  7. He was the epitome of “Evdue Es Hashem B’simcha” always with a smile, and an ability to put a smile on everyone’s face. His life was not easy but his focus was always on others. Yehe Sichro Boruch. Klall Yisroel will miss him greatly.

  8. I remember sitting for two hours on shabbos listening to him tell a story to 100 kids in camp. Each kid sat in rapt silence. Memories of Rabbi Kunda have always been with me since.

  9. Baruch dayan emes. I consider him personally to be one of the great tzaddikim of this dor. His hashpaa on me and all of Klal yisroel who listened to his holy words through his tapes affected us to walk in the ways of Hakadosh Baruch Hu. I consider him a Adom Gadol, Eved Hashem, marbitz Torah. Rav Shmuel Kunda is someone who inspired me in my Ahavas Hashem and Ahavas Yisroel. He was and is a mechanech to all bnei and bnos Toroseinu Hakadosha. I write this with sadness and tears, may Hashem Yisborach bring Mashiach and may all the holy tzaddikim, tmimim, and yesharim like Rav Shmuel Kunda Zecher Tzaddik VKadosh L’bracha come back again. I never met Rav Kunda ZTVK’L. But he has had an impact on my life to strive for Tikkun Hamidos and dveikus with Hashem. Yehi Zichro Baruch

  10. I was a 7 year old camper(that’s right. Kids used to go to sleepaways @ a much younger age than today), in Ne’arim, back in 1975 up in Flieschmans,NY. I remember being all nervous that I would be homesick & all, but I found Rabbi Kunda to be so funny that I had a great time. I still remember his morning wake up calls over the loud speakers. Being from out of town, I first met him again, 30+ years later on Chal Hamoed, waiting in line in “Neli Blye”. I recognised him thru his voice, listening with my kids to every single tape he ever came out with. He was very moved that I knew who he was, thru his voice. We shmuuzed for about 20 minutes as if we were the closest of freinds. He was so aproachable. He was such a humble man. We, and I mean all of Kllal Yisroel, will miss him dearly. Yehi zichro Baruch!

  11. So Sad to read about Reb Shmuel’s Petirah. In Boro Park back in the early 60’s there were several pirchei groups Shabbos afternoon, that is until Reb Shmuel became a leader and EVERYONE wanted to be in his group! They had to use a nearby shul to house his pirchei group. Everyone loved him and he had everyone’s attention. He came to my Bar Mizva with his great smile for 3 minutes, just to wish me Mazel tov. After I was married, and in chinuch Myself I used to go back to Boro Park and I saw Reb Shmuel in the bais Medrash learning with his chavrusa. He still greeted me with the same love and entusiasm as when we were younger. A neshoma like his is a rare gift. I thank the RBSO that I was Zoiche to have known and to have been touched by his wit and warmth. He wil certainly have a lichtiger Gan Eden!

  12. I cried when reading this sad news, but at the same time I could not help smiling, thinking of the tapes that my kids loved and still know by heart even now that they are parents. Yehi zichro boruch!

  13. Who can forget those stories in Camp Naarim – in addition to the younger kids eating up every word, the older ones who normally would never be interested in listening to a story would be captivated as well. The previous poster who mentioned the off the cuff grammen, the skits and plays and songs, who can forget the artwork – which sometimes he would just draw on a napkin to give to some lucky kid, he was an incredibly talended person for sure. I also vividly remember the warmth and the friendliness and the concern – real and heartfelt, with wich he always responded to me whenever I went to him with an issue, even though I was just a kid. The truth is, he was given an amazing set of unique talents by the Ribbono Shel Oilam, and then he went and undoubtedly used them for Kvod Shamayim and that is something we all have to have the utmost kovod and respect for, and should maybe try a little harder to use OUR unique and God given talents in a similar fashion. Yehi Zichro Baruch, may his legacy be a nechoma to his family.

  14. Every single travel from the midwest to the Catskills was enhanced by Rav Kunda’s tapes, till this day we sing them at our Shabbos table with smiles and laughter.

  15. My kids went to sleep at night listening to his tapes.
    I always wonder how many neshamos would have been saved had his stories been available in the 50’s.

  16. There are few homes in the national frum community that have not been enhanced by the warm, witty, entertaining style of Rabbi Kunda and his books, tapes, and videos. Additionally, so many of us spent their formative childhood and adolescent summers in the friendly and thrilling confines of Camp Na’arim where our personalities were molded and talents developed.
    Thank you Rabbi Kunda.
    Your neshama should have a lichtigen Gan Eden and your children should find true nechama.


  17. There are no words…

    I will miss that man sooooo much! I grew up in Na’arim and all of my memories are of him! He made every kid feel like a million bucks. Benching came alive when he stood on that bench and led a Na’arim benching like no other, all the while throwing out cans of soda to boys benching nicely. And of course, when he benched, it was always followed by the Naarim theme song.

    Yehi Zichron Baruch.
    My bags are packed and I’m ready to go…
    Naarim tatatata Naarim Tatatata Naarim Tatatata…..

  18. How so very sad, bde. My kids were mesmerized by his tapes. Such talent. He will be sorely missed.
    Just curious why this talent does not exist today?

  19. Reading all these comments has me crying! such a special special person! My 6 year old son knows the entire Magic Yarlmuka vol 1 by heart – mila bemila! we all had to listen to it 700 times driving from Brooklyn to Cleveland back & forth! The messages he portrayed are emmesdika Torah Hashkafa. His song about Emuna & Bitachon at the end of the “Where is Zaidy” – Wiffleberry (Wilksberry) tape, is unbelievable! It should be mandatory listening for every Yeshiva student!

  20. i can’t stop crying. i had the privelege of spending time with Reb Shmuel as a child in the 80’s and 90’s. What a great man What a happy happy man. What a heart. What a talent. What a mentch. How many people has he touched. His albums. His art. His enthusiasm. Reb Shmuel, thank you for everything. You will be missed dearly.

  21. Baruch Dayan Emes,

    I will never forget being a young child in camp Naarim, coming together on Shabbos afternoon to be inspired and uplifted by the stories of Rabbi Kunda,

    May the family be consoled,

  22. Rabbi Shmuel Kunda’s ability to connect and teach children (and yes, us adults as well) in a Toiredigeh, meaningful, and truly entertaining way, is without compare, period. No one came close to his awesome talents. His tapes are timeless, they’re classics, and nothing out there comes close to the witty and smart dialogue, songs, and messages that apply to every generation. I venture to say that his influence on our tinoikes shel beis rabbon all over the world is unprecedented. I’m guessing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if at least 80% of ALL our kinderlech have listened to some or all of his tapes or read his books. Although many of his tapes were made many years ago, they continuously stand the test of time, because they all deliver pure torah messages given over with humor, warmth, and love…something we recognize is essential to raise nachasdisgeh children. I also had the zchus to know him, and he was such a special and fine person, and tzadik in our times. He will be missed immensely. May his family be consoled in knowing that his tremendously positive influence on our children will continue and live on as his tapes and books will continue to be discovered by future generations. Yehi Zichro Boruch.

  23. Chaval Al Deavdin. . . . I was a staff member for the first 3 years in Fleischmanns, and was one of the composers of that famous theme song.

  24. I had the privilage to be baruch on the Hebrew version of “baruch learns his brachos” a project which was supposed to be a beginning of many Hebrew tapes but unfortunately it didn’t work out. We spent many hours together in various studios and it was truly an amazing experience that I will never forget! He was a true master and I feel truly blessed knowing him and spending time with him. Yehi Zichro Baruch

  25. It shouldn’t be amazing how sad everyone is now. it’s simply the absence of the unmatched happiness he brought out in us. We lost a real legend. (while my bags are packed, I’m ready to go………. the summer’s gone, it’s gone before you know…) Yihee Zichro Boruch!

  26. I remember how he would sing on the mike one morning: Today is Lazy Day, Today is Lazy Day, If you are Lazy you are Crazy, Today…

    Yehi Zichro Baruch

  27. Baruch Dayan Ha’emes. R’ Shmuel was a very special man and a relative of mine. The couple times I met him, he made such an impression on me. His tapes were all amazing, funny, and entertaining. He will be missed by all who knew him and even by those who didn’t. Zichrono L’vracha

  28. Chaval ahl d’avdin v’lo mishtak-chin!
    If my memory serves me correctly, Reb Shmuel’s earliest camp experiences began in Camp Yeshiva in Swan Lake back in the 1950’s. i was zocheh to develop a personal, intimate friendship with this unusual human being. Subsequently, I was in the upper eschelons at Camp Hadar Hatorah for a few summers, and I brought Reb Shmuel there as Learning Director during the first year that he and Naomi were first married. She and my wife grew up together in Detroit, so it was natural for Shmuel and Naomi to attempt to introduce these two singles to each other – and they succeeded. How many other Shidduchim did they complete as well?
    For the record, Reb Shmuel was also an intimate Talmid to Rav Shraga Moshe Kalmanowitz ZT”L. I was privvy to a number of anecdotes that Reb Shmuel shared with me during those early years.
    When Shmuel and Naomi announced their engagement back in 1969, his parents held a “Kabbolas Ponim” for Naomi at their home on 51st Street in Boro Park on a Shabbos afternoon. Shmuel invited me to come – and at an unannounced moment he asked for quiet – and procceded to present Naomi with a CAULIFLOWER head! (Get it? It was a KALLAH flower!!). Whenever my wife, Shelly and I would be in New York, we tried to detour over to Boro Park to visit with them. It was always a happy reunion for the four of us. As cited by another writer, Naomi was the epitome of the true Aishes Chayil to him. Two “Heiligeh Neshamos” that were clearly intended to spend their years together and to establish the beautiful family that they had. To each of their surviving famuilies, and to their wonderful children – HaMakom yenacheym ess-chem b’soch shear aveiley Tzion v’Yerushalyim! Our loss here on earth is Shomayim’s gain.
    Y’hi Zichro Boruch!!
    (Southfield, Michigan)

  29. I had Rabbi Kunda as a 4th grade rebbi in Yeshiva Torah Vaadath of Flatbush, which became Yeshiva Torah Temimah in 1971. I was in Camp Torah Vaadath for 2 years prior and he announced to the class he is opening up a new camp, Camp Naarim. Everyone in my class pretty much went to his camp after we had him as a rebbi. So, in 1972 Camp Naarim opened with about 75-100 campers. He always told me when I saw him over the years that I was the first camper to sign up. He was a great and really funny man. He gave out every Friday a beautiful drawn color framed picture of the chofetz Chaim to the best student of the week. I still have mine. I was so proud to have him as my rebbi and going to Naarim for 8 years. All because of him.
    As part of the theme song goes: Really got to thank you, (clap), so good a time I never had (repeat)! I was on that color war theme song team! I think it started with.. After a year of going to school…somewhere in the middle was.. A place where basketball and ping pong grow.. Does anyone remember all the words? Anyway, Rabbi Kunda will be forever missed. He was such a big part of my childhood as well as countless others. I am so grateful to have known him. He ALWAYS had a smile on his face and forever telling a joke to make you laugh.

  30. We had the great zchus of meeting R Shmuel Kunda o h and L’HB’ CH LCH’His son R’Ahron N Y. He came here to Manchester and we went to Gateshead, together.
    He livened up the kids made them happy. he got them clapping and laughing.with his stories and sound effects. He gave away tapes, and called up boys onto the stage and lifted up their spirits in such a caring way. We have video clips of him copying “Mr Osbourne and the Truck driver.” He was a role model,and an amazing Baal Middos Toivois, with great Annovoh. I remember he stayed behind and drew charachters in the front of the Boruch books the Oilom bought oblivious to anything else, only to please and inspire all old and young. He sang for us in his finnale the Yam Yam Yarmulka song followed by L’Shonoh Habo BiYerushalaim. He commented how R’ Moishe Yosef Fordsham n y, of Gateshead picked up the tunes so quickly He really impressed me and I was delighted to meet him, seeing as my kids ( and I ! ) grew up on his many tapes. I suggested he make a tape about Purim, boy would that have been fun. I wish all his family Hamokom Yenachem Eschem. Hopefully we’ll be back with him soon with Moshiach I Y what a great charachter and personality – P S we have some clips of him on stage in Manchester and Gateshead. Ask R’ Ahron Kunda n y to contact me the driver to Gateshead, Kol Tuv


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