Israel Koller was a Holocaust Survivor, and an ordained Rabbi who served in Korea, Port Arthur TX, Santa Barbara CA, Charleston WVa, and Richmond.
He was born in January 1936, in Dombrowa, Poland, to Leib and Helen Koller.
Shortly before the Nazi invasion, in September 1939, his father understood the dire future, and began to make arrangements to flee east.
Israel, his parents, and his uncle made it to Lvov but were stopped by the Soviets who controlled the city, at the time. The Soviets’ goal was to move the more than 200,000 refugees towards Siberia for slave labor. However with the Nazi invasion, in 1941, the Kollers were released, and made their way to Uzbekistan.
Once there, the Kollers were unable to find work, and were eventually forced to leave Israel in a Jewish orphanage in Turkestan, about an hour away.
After the war, the family was able to reunite and attempted to return to Poland but any resemblance to their previous life, was gone. They continued traveling until they made it to Schlachtensee DP Camp in Berlin, in 1945.
They stayed there until 1949, when they were able to immigrate to the US (Detroit).
Israel assimilated, and graduated from college before becoming an ordained Rabbi in 1961.
Rabbi Koller went on to lead congregations across the country until the mid-2000s.
He passed away on September 5th, and is survived by his wife Margaret “Peggy”, and children, Jeremy, and Shoshana
May his memory be a blessing