B. S. LEON TRUST
Benny Leon Harare, Zimbabwe)
Mr Behor Samuel Leon was born in
1889 on the Island of Rhodes and came to what then was Rhodesia as a young
man in 1908. He worked at various things for a number of years, until he had
saved enough money to start his own businesses. He tried many things
including farming, mining, trading stores etc, before going into the
property market. Here his industrial and business concerns flourished and he
became a comparatively wealthy man, he never married but was a keen
sportsman, particularly with tennis and golf He was a founder member of the
Wingate Country Club and Youth organisations could always rely on B. S. Leon
His latter years saw him turn his attention to charitable
Organisations and Commercial Institutions.
In July 1950
the Loyal Woman Guild lead by a Mrs Henry Smith initiated the idea of a home
for the elderly men and woman, she got B. S. Leon interested in the project,
and he opened a Trust Fund with a gift of 100 pounds sterling. This was
followed in April 1951 with a gift of land. 20 acres of Mayfield Estate and
in September 1952, the foundation of the present home was opened in the farm
house with 7 elderly residents and it_became known as the B. S. Leon
Jubilee Home for the elderly.
The home now specialises in care and treatment of me
old and infirm members of society of both sex's.
Over the years the home has expanded to what it is
today, there are 100 +- residents, patients
in rooms or in frail care wing in hospital.
In what is known as the Leon House, there are 42
separate rooms for female and male residents, also three small four bed
wards, a dinning room, kitchen, and two communal lounges.
In 1962 the hospital wing was
added on for frail care cases, there are three female wards with 36 beds ,
one male ward with 12 beds and two singles private rooms.
In 1970 the present laundry was added on, this caters
for all the washing at the home. I might add here the three washing machines
are the original ones from 1970, and are still being used 7 days a week,
although at times its difficult to get spares when they break down. There
are also two tumble dryers and two spin dryers of similar age as well as a small
roller iron and 5 small irons.
There is 24 hour nursing
in both sections of the home with fully qualified
nursing sisters in charge and excellent
assistants ( nursing aids) these are
supervised by a qualified Matron and Deputy Matron, who endeavour to make die
lives of the elderly people more bearable and acceptable in their latter
The home employs approximately (100) one hundred
staff which includes the two ladies who man the office and Matrons down to
the general workers and workshop staff
There is a fund raising committee made up of
volunteers, some who have no connection with the home, they raise funds by
having stalls at fetes, clothes, and book
sales, also garage sales, etc, etc, etc. All items for sale have been
donated and money raised goes to a certain project which would benefit all
the residents in the home, certain organisations and commercial companies
give a donation either in cash or in kind,
but unfortunately due to the economy of the country these are getting less.
Leon - a Philanthropist
plaque on the rear wall of the Sephardi Synagogue in Harare, was unveiled by
Mr. B. S. Leon in June 1958. The plaque commemorates the consecration of the
Sephardi synagogue forty-one years ago.
Mr. B. S. Leon was highly regarded
by the members of the congregation for his financial endeavours and
his philanthropy towards his fellow man.
The Samuel Leon Hebrew School is named after his father. Born on the
island of Rhodes he was very conscious of the well being of his fellow Jews.
The economy of the island could no longer support the 4000 strong
Sephardi communities there, and with the clouds of the European war
gathering on the horizon he assisted many of them to immigrate to Southern
Rhodesia in the early 1920ís and 1930ís. Rhodes Island at that time was
an Italian possession, and with the alliance between Mussolini and Hitler,
the racial laws discriminating against Jews were implemented in 1938.
In August 1944 the Nazis deported the remaining 1767 Jews of which
only 163 survived the horrors of Auschwitz.
Many families owe him a debt of gratitude. A good many members of the
present congregation are in this country because of Behor Shumuel
Leon, who died in 1963, aged 74.
Leon was a well to do man, having made money through mining and
farming ventures, he did not marry. Whilst living in Gatooma and the Eiffel
Flats he became a Freemason and was Past Master of the Gatooma Lodge.
In about 1954 he built the B. S. Leon Home for the Aged, and
established the B. S. Leon Trust, of which he was Founder and President.
Shortly after this he was honoured by Queen Elizabeth and received the O.B.E.
(Order of the British Empire) Today this Home is still operative and
of the thirty eight members,
seven are Jewish.
eldest is Mr. Solly Plein (95) followed by Mrs Marie Scemaria (87), Alegra
Trevis who is the neice of
B. S. Leon, Esther Israel, and Stella Habib.