Kalman was raised in a nonobservant Jewish home in Vancouver, Canada where he attended Sir Winston Churchill High School. Upon his graduation in 1969 he was given academic and basketball scholarships to the University of British Columbia. After his first year studying philosophy he travelled Europe with plans to undergo coursework in France. However his mother requested that he stop in Israel to visit relatives. Enamored with Jewish culture and heritage, he cancelled the trip to France and enrolled in several Yeshivot, and in 1977 he received his rabbinical ordination.
In 1973 Samuels married Malki Klein and the couple took up residence in Jerusalem. In 1977, their second son, Yossi Samuels, at the time 11 months old, was injured by a faulty DPT vaccination and was rendered blind, deaf and acutely hyperactive. After 7 years with no communication, Yossi’s special education teacher, Shoshana Weinstock achieved a break through by relaying sign language into the palm of his hand, teaching Yossi his first word, ‘Shulchan’ (Hebrew, שֻׁולְחָן), meaning table.