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In Memory . . . Mounir Raphael Sa’adah (1909-2008)

Posted By Jessica Cambio, Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Reverend Mounir R. Sa’adah died on July 25, 2008 at Harvest Hill retirement center in Lebanon, NH.  He was 99.

Rev. Sa’adah was born in Damascus, Syria on June 18, 1909.  He attended the American University in Beirut, graduating in 1930.  He attended the American University’s Near East School of Theology while working as a librarian there.  He then joined the faculty, teaching history and ethics.  In 1937, he married Marjorie Anne Abrahamian who was a refugee from Turkish Armenia.  While still in Beirut, Rev. Sa’adah pursued a master’s degree which he earned in 1945, also from American University.    

In 1947, Rev. Sa’adah and his family immigrated to the United States, settling briefly in Ohio where he taught at Western Reserve Academy.  He was then invited by Kenneth Webb, a colleague from Beirut, to teach at the newly created Woodstock Country School in Woodstock, Vt.  He taught history there for 18 years.  While in Woodstock, he was called to minister to the North Universalist Chapel Society.  He was ordained there in 1947 and served there from 1946 until 1964. 

The American Friends Service Committee recruited Mounir and Marjorie Sa’adah in 1949 to organize the care of the first Arab refugee settlements in Gaza.  Their concern for conditions in the Middle East prompted them, with other Woodstock residents, to create the Near East Scholarship Fund to support the education of students at American University.

In 1964, Rev. Sa’adah initiated a program in Arabic and Near Eastern Studies at the Choate School in Wallingford, CT.  He retired from there in 1976.  While teaching at Choate, Rev. Sa’adah served the Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Madison, CT and All Souls Unitarian Universalist Congregation in New London, CT.  Rev. Sa’adah was named minister emeritus by two of the congregations he served, the North Universalist Chapel Society and All Souls Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. 

Rev. Sa’adah published articles in the Christian Century, the Muslim World, and the Independent School Magazine and after his retirement, he published his book Jesus: the Son of Man. 

Survivors of Rev. Sa’adah include his children: David M. and his wife, Gretchen Hall, of Alexandria, VA; Jonathan E. and his wife, Elizabeth Adams, of Hartford, VT and Montreal; and M. Anne Sa’adah, and her husband, William L. Baldwin, of Hanover, NH.  His wife, Marjorie, died in 2002.

A service was held on August 17, 2008 at the North Universalist Chapel Society in Woodstock, VT.  Those wishing to make memorial gifts are invited to contribute to the Near East Scholarship Fund, c/o Carola Lea, 522 River Road, Lyme, NH 03768.  Please send notes of condolence to his son, Dr. David M. Sa’adah, 1919 Hawthorne Ave., Alexandria, VA 22311.

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