Cap­tain Solomon Levy MBE

First non-po­lit­i­cal civic Mayor of Gi­bral­tar who brought racial and re­li­gious har­mony to the Rock

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

ST AL WAR TO Ft he vi­brant Gi­bral­tar Jewish com­mu­nity, Solomon ( Momy) Levy, who has died aged 80, was one of the Rock’s most colour­ful and pop­u­lar per­son­al­i­ties. He was a for­mer Cap­tain in the Gi­bral­tar Reg­i­ment, chair­man and later pres­i­dent of the Gi­bral­tar Branch of the Royal British Le­gion and a re­spected vice-pres­i­dent of the Jewish Com­mit­tee for HM Forces. For the past 30 years he was a reg­u­lar fig­ure at Lon­don‘s an­nual AJEX Pa­rade..

Levy worked tire­lessly for tol­er­ance, re­li­gious and racial har­mony. Im­mac­u­lately dressed, he was in­stantly recog­nis­able in Gi­bral­tar’s Main Street. A proud loy­al­ist who fiercely de­fended Gi­bral­tar’s at­tach­ment to Great Bri­tain, he lob­bied MPs and mem­bers of the House of Lords in de­fence of the Rock’s in­ter­ests. He was ef­fec­tively an in­for­mal am­bas­sador for Gi­bral­tar wher­ever he trav­elled. He was also the JC’s long-term Gi­bral­tar cor­re­spon­dent.

A JP since 1994, he was awarded the MBE for pub­lic ser­vices in 1999 and be­came the first non-po­lit­i­cal civic Mayor of Gi­bral­tar in Au­gust 2008.

He was born in Gi­bral­tar to Isaac S Levy and Rachel Levy (née Has­san), sis­ter of Sir Joshua Has­san, who had been Chief Min­is­ter of Gi­bral­tar for over 18 years. The Levy fam­ily had set­tled in Gi­bral­tar since the early 1700s. With a proud an­ces­try of judges and rab­bis in Te­t­uan and Gi­bral­tar, he was the el­dest of five chil­dren In July, 1940 he was evac­u­ated with sev­eral hun­dred Gi­bral­tar Jews to Madeira for the du­ra­tion of the war. On his re­turn he stud­ied at the Tal­mud To­rah He­brew school, which his fa­ther had worked hard to re-es­tab­lish af­ter the war.

Fol­low­ing his bar­mitz­vah he stud­ied at Bri­tain’s Carmel Col­lege. Its founder, Rabbi Kopul Rosen, be­came one of his most in­spir­ing men­tors. He com­pleted his na­tional ser­vice in the Gi­bral­tar De­fence Forces, serv­ing again as an of­fi­cer in the army re­serves from 1960-1978, to be­come the first Jewish Cap­tain in the Gi­bral­tar Reg­i­ment. He de­vel­oped very strong links with suc­ces­sive Gover­nors and mil­i­tary com­man­ders sta­tioned there.

In 1956 he trained as an es­tate agent in Lon­don and stud­ied at the Col­lege of Es­tate Man­age­ment, qual­i­fy­ing in March, 1960. The fol­low­ing month he re­turned to Gi­bral­tar and launched Solomon Levy Es­tate Agents and Auc­tion­eers, which he con­tin­ued to run for the rest of his life. He also helped found the Gi­bral­tar Build­ing So­ci­ety. He claimed to be the long­est serv­ing agent with al­most 60 years of ex­pe­ri­ence.

He mar­ried Sarah Abe­ca­sis in 1969, and the cou­ple wel­comed hun­dreds of Jewish tourists to their Gi­bral­tar home, which over­flowed with fam­ily, guests and visi­tors on Shab­bat.

In 1975 Solomon Levy be­came pres­i­dent of KK Abu­darham Syn­a­gogue, co-founded by his an­ces­tors in 1920, and of which he re­mained a de­voted sup­porter. In the 1990s his com­mu­nal roles in­cluded his pres­i­dency of the Gi­bral­tar Jewish Com­mu­nity and the Tal­mud To­rah School. He was a trustee of Yeshi­vat Ohr To­rah, founded by his an­ces­tors in 1872.

A Char­ity Com­mis­sioner, he was an ac­tive fund-raiser for such causes as can­cer and blind­ness and war vet­er­ans, and a keen pro­moter of in­ter­faith re­la­tions..

The flam­boy­ant Mo my was a quin­tes­sen­tial Gi­bral­tar ian and de­fender of the Rock’s British sta­tus. He was par­tic­u­larly proud of his mil­i­tary con­nec­tions, reg­u­larly at­tend­ing the an­nual Armed Forces Jewish week­end. As gun troop com­man­der, he had to fire salutes for Royal birthdays, but as an Ortho­dox Jew, he would not travel by Land Rover to the salut­ing bat­tery high on the Rock if they fell on Shab­bat. When the Rabbi told him it was OK to give the or­der to fire, Levy, in cer­e­mo­nial uni­form, would march up to the guns, fol­lowed by his loyal gun troop who re­fused to travel in the ve­hi­cle if he was walk­ing. His in­ter­ests in­cluded clas­si­cal music and Span­ish op­eretta, which he ex­pressed through his ten year long chair­man­ship of the Gi­bral­tar Music Cen­tre.

Levy’s bi­og­ra­pher Michael Freed­land ( Man On The Rock, Val­len­tine Mitchell) adds: “He had a poster in the win­dow of his es­tate agents’ of­fice declar­ing, “Born British and will die British.” He walked to one of Gi­bral­tar’s five syn­a­gogues ev­ery Shab­bat, car­ry­ing a stick and wear­ing one of the bowler hats he bought in St. James’s Street. He was in many ways, Mr Gi­bral­tar– cer­tainly Mr Jewish Gi­bral­tar. He was pres­i­dent of any Jewish or­gan­i­sa­tion you could think of in a coun­try with pro­por­tion­ately the big­gest Jewish com­mu­nity in the world out­side Israel – more than 1,000 Jews in an area of un­der 40,000 peo­ple.”

For the Queen’s Di­a­mond Ju­bilee, he paid £2,000 for a huge ban­ner which he hung from the top floor of his build­ing com­plete with a pic­ture of Her Majesty. Solomon Levy is sur­vived by his wife, his son, three daugh­ters, grand­chil­dren and four sib­lings. One daugh­ter pre­de­ceased him in 2014, MARTIN NEW­MAN

Capt Solomon (Momy) Levy. Born Oc­to­ber 26, 1936. Died De­cem­ber 22, 2016

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