25th July 2004
Eulogy given at funeral by Dave Bloom
Arleen, Mark, Julian, Solly, family and friends
On behalf of Telfed (S.A. Zionist Fed-Israel) and CAZO (Central African Zionist Federation), all fellow former and current Zimbabweans in Israel, around the world and personally, I would like to extend our heartfelt sorrow at the passing of Adolph.
Its only about two weeks since I wrote to Adolph welcoming him to Israel and congratulating him on fulfilling his life-long dream of making Aliyah. We knew he was seriously ill he but somehow thought and wished he would be with us for a little longer.
I wrote then that it is indeed a unique fact that so many of the leaders of the Zimbabwe Jewish Community have made Aliyah and his was yet another example of CAZO Chairmen who have set an example to others.
I noted how amusing it was to hear on arrival that his appointment to the Ministry of Interior was (mistakenly) booked by Telfed in the name of “Mr. CAZO”. I then realised how appropriate the mistake was…..that Adolph Leon was in fact probably the last in a line of “Mr. CAZOs” and had earned his title after so many years of diligent and hard-working running of that organization in Zimbabwe.
As a youngster in Habonim in the-then Rhodesia I always felt Adolph’s presence at Zionist Conferences or on various community committees. Whilst processing some of the photos from Salisbury Zionist Council meetings in the 1940s and then CAZO meetings through the 50s, 60s and the 1990s and his smiling face was a common denominator throughout those years. This is just symbolic testimony to the many, many years of service that he gave to the Zionist cause in Zimbabwe; whether it was organising Maccabi Games at Wingate, the annual Bible Quiz or as energetic Chairman of CAZO for a large number of years.
In a tribute to Adolph in Harare before he left I read that when he arrived as a young man in Rhodesia in 1938 Adolph joined the Salisbury Zionist Society and took the position of treasurer. In those days it was separate society to the Hovevei Zion Movement in Bulawayo. In the 1940’s the two organisations amalgamated and became the Central African Zionist Organisation.
At the age of 83 Adolph was still active in Zionist and communal activities and was quoted as saying “he was dedicated to helping his fellow Jews”. As head of the Mashonaland Jewish Communal Fund he raised money to assist members of the community who were not able to fend for themselves. During the past 20 years he had been attending to the daily running of the CAZO office in Harare.
The tribute went on to say that Adolph’s departure would leave a big hole in the social and communal affairs of Harare.
He had been one of the main-stays of the Central African Zionist Organization; through thick and thin he had been determined to keep it going in his modest and unassuming manner.
Adolph – your devotion to communal affairs spanning over 65 years is unsurpassed and even when we met a few weeks ago you remained so concerned and I could feel how important it was for you to report about the ongoing running and welfare of the community and CAZO.
I can say without hesitation that your passing has left a big hole in all our lives and we will remember you with deep affection and warmth.
May your family know no further grief and may you rest in peace.
(Editor – to see pictures of Adolph’s involvement in community affairs – see below )
Farewell to Adolph Leon –
A dedicated communal worker
By Benny Leon
(With acknowledgements to the Central African Zionist Digest in which the following article first appeared)
Adolph Leon, who has been president of CAZO for over 16 years, was born in the Romanian town of Vaslui on the 3rd January 1918. His father owned a trading store and had a family of three sons and a daughter.
One of Adolph’s brothers died in the 1940’s. The Russians torpedoed the boat “Struma”, in which he was sailing for Palestine. His family experienced much anti-Semitism, and when and anti-Semitic government came into power in 1938, he emigrated to Southern Rhodesia, to join his elder brother Joseph, who had arrived two years earlier.
At first he worked for the wholesalers, Robinson and Schwartz. He tried to join the army in 1939, but was rejected because he was considered an “alien”. In 1941 he was called up to do guard duties at various Italian internment camps situated at Umvuma, Fort Victoria, Gatooma and Salisbury. At the conclusion of the war he returned to his post at Robinson and Schwartz, and stayed there until 1947.
Together with his brother Joseph, and with financial assistance from Harry Robinson, they opened Advance Dry Cleaners in Telford Road, Graniteside. They closed the business in 1970 and opened a factory called Rhodesian Braiding, where they manufactured shoelaces and webbing. This business was closed in 1990.
In 1948, Adolph married Ray Kahanowitz, and together they raised two sons and a daughter, Mark, Julian and Arleen. Ray passed away in 1992. They have seven grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
On arrival in 1938 Adolph Leon joined the Salisbury Zionist Society and took the position of treasurer. In those days it was separate society to the Hovevey Zion Movement in Bulawayo, where Barney Katz was already involved. In the 1940’s the two amalgamated and became the Central African Zionist Organisation.
At the age of 83 Adolph still keeps active in Zionist and communal activities and says he is dedicated to helping his fellow Jews. As head of the Mashonaland Jewish Communal Fund he raises funds to assist members of the community who are not able to fend for themselves. During the past 20 years he has been attending to the daily running of the CAZO office in Harare.
Sadly, prevailing conditions in the country have made it increasingly difficult to run CAZO due to dwindling financial support from regular donors.
A farewell brocha will be held next Saturday 12th June, at the Harare Hebrew Congregation Synagogue. He leaves to join his family in Israel
FOOT NOTE: Adolf Leon an ardent Zionist died 23rd July, 2004 in the land he loved at the age of 86, after brief battle with cancer. May he rest in peace. (by Benny Leon who is not a relative)
24th July 2004