Sami Shamoon

The Jewish Chronicle - - Obituaries -

BUSI­NESS­MAN AND phi­lan­thropist Sami Shamoon sup­ported ed­u­ca­tion, health and the her­itage of East­ern Jewry. Born into a wealthy Bagh­dadi fam­ily, one of six broth­ers and three sis­ters, he stud­ied typ­ing and ac­counts at school in or­der to join his fa­ther and un­cle in their im­port-ex­port firm.

With Arab states vent­ing their anger at the new state of Is­rael by at­tack­ing their Jewish cit­i­zens, Sami left for Turkey in 1952. In 1953 he and a brother moved to Is­rael and did army ser­vice.

Sami then joined his fa­ther, who had re­lo­cated to Iran, to man­age and de­velop the in­ter­na­tional fam­ily busi­ness. Af­ter the 1979 Ira­nian revo­lu­tion, he and his wife moved to Lon­don un­til set­tling in Is­rael in 2003.

He spent his years in Bri­tain as part of a cir­cle of Sephardi busi­ness­men in­volved in the Jewish com­mu­nity.

He and his brother David funded the ex­pan­sion of the Jewish Prepara­tory School, founded at Laud­erdale Road Syn­a­gogue in 1982. In 1985 they bought new premises and pro­vided schol­ar­ships. In 1996 the school was re­named Naima JPS af­ter their mother.

In 1985 he was on a three-man team rep­re­sent­ing the Iraqi-Jewish com­mu­nity at the Board of Deputies for the first time. He hosted vis­its by Is­rael’s top Sephardi rab­bis and was ac­tive in then MP Gre­ville Jan­ner’s Com­mon­wealth Jewish Coun­cil. From 1994 he sup­ported the Com­mu­nity Se­cu­rity Trust.

In 1999 he be­came pres­i­dent of the re­launched Sephardi Fed­er­a­tion of the UK and Com­mon­wealth, and presided over a 2003 Lon­don con­fer­ence on The For­got­ten Jews of the Mid­dle East.

His pledges of in­vest­ment were cru­cial to ne­go­ti­a­tions to res­cue Ethiopian Jews in the 1991 Op­er­a­tion Solomon.

In Is­rael he was pres­i­dent of the Baby­lo­nian Jewry Her­itage Cen­tre, a gov­er­nor of the Di­as­pora Mu­seum, and a ma­jor sup­porter of the Wolf­son Hospi­tal in Holon. Af­ter the 2005 tsunami, he paid for open-heart surgery on 10 Thai chil­dren at the hospi­tal’s new car­di­ol­ogy unit, named af­ter him and his wife.

He set up some 20 com­puter cen­tres to train boys from poorer fam­i­lies, and funded the re­build­ing of the Negev Aca­demic Col­lege of En­gi­neer­ing, which was re­named af­ter him in 2004.

His con­tri­bu­tion to Is­rael’s econ­omy and Jewish ed­u­ca­tion, cul­ture and her­itage was recog­nised with a life­time achieve­ment award from Bar Ilan Uni­ver­sity in 2002.

He is sur­vived by his wife, An­gela, and daugh­ter, Alexan­dra.

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