Sam Benatar, 86, Zimbabwe Jewish leader

sam benatar

Sam Benatar, z”l

HARARE, Zimbabwe (WJC) –Tributes have flowed in for the late Sam Benatar, the president of the Zimbabwe Jewish Board of Deputies and one of Zimbabwe Jewry’s most experienced and active communal leaders. Benatar, 86, who was born in the small town of Concession in what was then Southern Rhodesia, passed away following a long illness here in Zimbabwe’s capital..

Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, who had a long working relationship with Benatar through his involvement with the African Jewish Congress (AJC), traveled to Harare to deliver the eulogy at his funeral. Silberhaft said that Benatar had worked tirelessly to promote the welfare of Zimbabwean Jewry during times of great stress and turmoil in the country. This included serving as chairman of the AJC’s Zimbabwe Relief Fund, which assists community members affected by the ongoing economic turmoil in Zimbabwe.

Benatar was a vice-President of the AJC, and in that capacity represented southern African Jewry at a number of major Jewish gatherings abroad, including the 2013 World Jewish Congress meeting in Budapest. Last year, he received a special award from the AJC for the “multiple contributions…made to the fostering of Jewish communal and religious life in Zimbabwe and southern Africa”.

Benatar was also a long-serving chairman of the Sephardi Hebrew Congregation in Harare. Outside the Jewish community, he was a senior member of a Freemasons lodge in the city. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Sara, and by his daughter Ingrid.

Jews first settled in what is today Zimbabwe and Zambia in the early 20th century when the country was a British colony name Rhodesia. From a peak of some 7,500 Jews in the early 1970s, Zimbabwe’s Jewish community today numbers approximately 200 souls.


San Diego Jewish World’s eulogy series is sponsored by Marc and Margaret Cohen in memory of Molly Cohen, and by Inland Industries Group LP in memory of long-time San Diego Jewish community leader Marie (Mrs. Gabriel) Berg.

Preceding provided by the World Jewish Congress

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