Manuel Cansino


The Jewish Chronicle - - OBITUARIES -

ONE OF the last sur­viv­ing pa­tri­archs of Sephardi An­glo-Jewry, Haim Manuel Cansino was thrust into com­mu­nal ac­tiv­ity early in life. His mother died when he was an in­fant; his fa­ther, Isaac, when he was a 15-year-old pupil at Manch­ester Gram­mar School.

His grand­fa­ther had been in­stru­men­tal in the build­ing of the Sephardi syn­a­gogue at Cheetham Hill and his fa­ther left a con­sid­er­able for­tune.

Manuel felt it his re­spon­si­bil­ity to con­tinue his fa­ther’s gen­er­ous con­tri­bu­tions to Jewish causes. Though he briefly at­tended Manch­ester Univer­sity, he de­voted him­self mainly to the Cheetham Hill con­gre­ga­tion, of which he soon be­came a mem­ber of the Ma­hamad, board of man­age­ment.

It was his fi­nan­cial sup­port that en­abled Ha­ham Gaguine in 1934 to pub­lish his ma­jor work, Keter Shem Tov (‘ Crown of a Good Name’), which con­tains a ded­i­ca­tory poem to him.

Manuel’s fo­cus on the Sephardi cause de­rived from a de­vo­tion to his fa­ther’s me­mory and pride in his fam­ily her­itage. His mother was a Pinto, his grand­mother was a Bel­isha.

He was a cousin of Lord (Les­lie) Hore-Bel­isha, war min­is­ter in Neville Cham­ber­lain’s cabi­net at the out­break of the Sec­ond World War, and a di­rect de­scen­dent of Ja­cob Cansino of Oran, whom Charles V of Spain en­no­bled in 1556 and ap­pointed am­bas­sador to Morocco. The Cansi­nos lived in Morocco and Gi­bral­tar. Manuel’s up­bring­ing meant that he spoke Span­ish and some Ara­bic.

Af­ter the war he lived in Lon­don with his wife Ce­cile, nee Car­valho. To- gether with his brother-in-law, Robert Car­valho (the long-time leader of the An­glo-Jewish As­so­ci­a­tion), Sir Alan Mo­catta and Neville Laski, QC (a for­mer pres­i­dent of the Board of Deputies), he largely ran the Laud­erdale Road Syn­a­gogue in Maida Vale, West Lon­don, Bri­tain’s prin­ci­pal — though not the old­est — Sephardi cen­tre of wor­ship.

He oc­cu­pied ev­ery main con­gre­ga­tional po­si­tion. He served on the Ma­hamad and took his turn as Par­nas Pres­i­dente (se­nior war­den). He was a life elder and a gov­er­nor of the Beth Holim, home for the aged or hospi­tal, re­lo­cated from Mile End to Wem­b­ley as Ed­in­burgh House in 1977.

Flu­ent in the Span­ish and Por­tuguese min­hag and melodies, he of­ten chanted the Shab­bat zemirot (songs) and haf­tarah.

One of his great­est plea­sures was to blow the sho­far on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kip­pur. He car­ried out this mitz­vah with great cer­e­mony. Young mem­bers of the choir typ­i­cally timed his teruah gedolah (great blast) on their watches to see if he could break his record for length of time.

Be­yond the Sephardi com­mu­nity, he was hon­orary sec­re­tary of the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee for the 1956 com­mem­o­ra­tion of the ter­cente­nary of the re­set­tle­ment of Jews in Eng­land, a task recog­nised by his ap­point­ment as MBE. He also chaired the Lon­don She­chi­tah Board.

Oc­ca­sion­ally ex­citable and a mar­vel­lous racon­teur, he was a man of great kind­ness and to­tal in­tegrity. Fol­low­ing his wife’s death and the on­set of ill health in his older son, the Eng­land bridge in­ter­na­tional Jonathan Cansino, Manuel de­voted over 20 years to his care. He later moved into Ed­in­burgh House, where he died.

He is sur­vived by a son, Ge­orge; daugh­ter, Stella; two grand­sons and five great-grand­chil­dren.

Manuel Cansino: Sephardi pa­tri­arch

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