Obits: Alfred D. Benjamin (1848-1900); Frank Benjamin (1866-1937)

A. D. Benjamin is Dead

Well-Known Business Man and Citizen Passes Away Suddenly To-day


One of Toronto’s Most Wealthy and Generous Hebrews — A Popular Employer

From the Toronto Daily Star, January 8, 1900

The business portion of the city was surprised this morning to learn of the sudden death of Mr. A. D. Benjamin, of the firm of M. & L. Samuel, Benjamin and Company.

Mr. Benjamin was one of the best known figures on the streets of Toronto. His face was that of a genial and benevolent man, and was but an index to his character, which was that of a truly noble man. Among his fellow citizens, Mr. Benjamin was honoured for his upright business principles. In the Jewish synagogue, of which he was president for many years, he was loved by the entire congregation. in his warehouse, Mr. Benjamin had the admiration and respect of all his employees.

Sketch of His Career.

Mr. Benjamin was born August 9, 1848, in Melbourne, Australia. In 1854, his father, David Benjamin, removed to England with his family. The son, Alfred D., was educated at the University College School, afterwards entering the University of London, where he received the degree of B.A., with honours, in 1865.

In 1873, Mr. Benjamin came to Montreal, where he lived for five years. In 1878, he went to England, and after spending a few months there, returned to Canada, coming to Toronto. He became a partner in the firm of M & L. Samuel, Benjamin & Co., engaged in the hardware business. This firm has been one of the most successful firms doing business in Toronto. They engaged in the manufacture of metallic roofing with a large factory in Parkdale, and have branches in London and other places. On the death of the elder Mr. Samuel, Mr. Benjamin became head of the firm.

Recently fortunate mining investments brought Mr. Benjamin no small measure of wealth, his connection with the Cour-d’Alenes mine being a peculiarly gratifying one, from a financial standpoint.

In the Synagogue.

In 1882, Mr. Benjamin was elected president of the Holy Blossom Synagogue, a position which he has held ever since. It was due to the efforts of Mr. Benjamin that the beautiful place of worship on Bond street was built, Mr. Benjamin and his brother contributing themselves $10,000, and raising by personal effort over $40,000 for the purpose.

Mr. Benjamin was connected with several religious organizations. He was president of the Holy Blossom Synagogue; vice-president of Hebrew Benevolent Society; treasurer of the Anglo-Jewish Society; treasurer of the Zionist Society.

In spite of his many and pressing duties, Mr. Benjamin found time to teach in the Hebrew school. His name, moreover, was the synonym for charity, he having been one of the most generous subscribers to every sort of beneficent scheme.

His Family.

In 1886, Mr. Benjamin went to England, where he married Rosetta Levy, daughter of Jacob Levy. Two daughters and one son survive him.

The cause of death was heart failure.

Some weeks ago, Mr. Benjamin, who has been an enthusiastic bicyclist, fell from his wheel, fracturing his leg. The injury was not considered serious, and Mr. Benjamin’s progress towards recovery was rapid. But this morning at half-past six he complained of his heart, and expired very suddenly. ♦

And from The Globe obituary of January 9, 1900, we learn the additional facts that A. D. Benjamin “was a member of the Toronto Board of Trade and of the Albany Club. He leaves a widow and three children, Esther and Louise and John Benjamin.”

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Obituary: Mr. Frank D. Benjamin

From the London Jewish Chronicle, March 26, 1937

We deeply regret to record the death of Mr. Frank David Benjamin, the well-known communal worker, which occurred on Saturday at his residence, 16, Dawson Place, Bayswater, after a long illness, in his seventy-first year.

Frank Benjamin, who was possessed of a charming personality, was the son of the late Mr. David Benjamin, who will be remembered by an older generation as a charitable and communal worker. The deceased came to England in 1908 from Canada where he was actively associated with many communal institutions. For over seven years, he was President of the Holy Blossom Congregation, Toronto, and took a considerable interest in the work of the Toronto Hebrew Benevolent Society, of which he was Vice-President. He also served for many years as Treasurer of the Toronto Branch of the Anglo-Jewish Association, and during his residence in London, was a member for a long period of the Council of the Association.

To the Jewish Board of Guardians Mr. Benjamin rendered most valuable service as a member of the Board. He regularly attended, prior to his illness, the weekly rote meetings of the Allowance Committees, and was always a generous contributor to the Board’s Funds. At one time, the deceased was a member of the Committee of the Stepney Jewish Schools. His great enthusiasm for the pursuance of Jewish religious education led him to take an interest in the work of Jews’ College, on the Council of which he served for many years as representative of the Jewish Memorial Council. He resigned from the College Council in 1933, because of ill health. He joined the Jewish Memorial Council in 1924, and also served with devotion as a member of the Central Committee for Jewish Education until 1933.

Another educational movement to which Mr. Benjamin rendered yeoman service for many years was the Union of Hebrew and Religion Classes. He regularly attended its Executive and Committee meetings, and was Treasurer for a long period. Mr. Benjamin will perhaps be best remembered for his long and active association with the United Synagogue, of which he was formerly an Honourary Officer, and of whose Council he was a Life Member.

It is significant that Mr. Benjamin passed away almost on the eve of the presentation of the Budget Speech of the United Synagogue. For several years, as one of the Treasurers, it was his custom to present the Budget Speech, and the members of the Council who were present on those Budget nights will have cause to remember the clear and concise manner which marked his deliverance of those speeches.

The New West End Synagogue, St. Petersburgh Place, has lost one of its most valued members in the passing of Mr. Benjamin. Until recently, he attended the Services almost every Sabbath. In 1917, he served the Congregation as Financial Representative, and in 1928 he retired from the Board of Management after a long and valued record of service. The deceased, who was a generous contributor to Jewish charities, is survived by his widow, herself a communal worker. The funeral was at Willesden Cemetery on Tuesday. ♦

Further biographical information on the Benjamin brothers may be found on pages 110 and 111 of The Jew in Canada, edited by A. D. Hart, originally published 1926 and republished by Now and Then Books in 2011. 

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A Farewell to Mr. F. D. Benjamin

Large Gathering at a Social Function in Honour of a Well-Known Citizen


Presentations from Holy Blossom Synagogue to Members of the Family

From the Toronto Daily Star, March 13, 1908
A pleasing function took place last night at the vestry chamber of the Holy Blossom Temple Toronto Hebrew congregation. It was the presentation of an illuminated address and souvenir to Mr. and Mrs. F. D. Benjamin on the eve of their departure from Toronto to take up their residence permanently in London, England.

Mr. Leo Frankel (who has been elected to succeed Mr. Benjamin as president of the congregation) occupied the chair.

On the arrival of Mrs. Benjamin she was presented with a bouquet of flowers by Miss Lisa Jacobs.

Rabbi Jacobs, Messrs. E. Scheuer, S. Samuel, H. N. Loeser, E. Saunders, H. Davis, J. S. Cohen, and others then referred to the great loss the departure of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin would be to the community and of the signal service they had rendered, and how inspiring had been the example they had set in every direction and sphere of life, and what good they had accomplished.

The Address. 

“To Mr. and Mrs. F. D. Benjamin.”

“On the eve of yhour leaving Toronto to reside in England, we take this opportunity of expressing on behalf of ourselves and the institutions we represent, the heartfelt regret we feel at your departure.

“We assure you that words fail to adequately convey the high esteem we entertain for you and our sorrow at the severance of the ties which have linked us together during the years of your residence in our midst.

“You, Mr. Benjamin, for seven years have filled the office of president of the Holy Blossom Congregation. During that period you have zealously and incessantly laboured for its welfare, and with such commendable prudence administered its affairs that the congregation has attained an eminent and honoured position.

“You have also been an active worker in the sacred cause of charity, sparing neither time nor effort for the alleviation of the sufferings of the poor. Your gifts have been many and generous. Your long association with, and active interest in the management of the affairs of the Toronto Jewish Benevolent Society, will be an everlasting example and an inspiration to its members. Likewise as treasurer of the local branch of the Anglo-Jewish Association, you manifested your sympathy with our oppressed brethren in distant lands.

“You, Mrs. Benjamin, as treasurer of the Ladies’ Montefiore Society, have worked nobly and unostentatiously for the sick and the poor, and sacrificed much of your time for their welfare. On all occasions your services were rendered graciously and unsparingly, neither wind or weather preventing your visits to the bedsides of the afflicted, and the homes of the bereaved.

As a Teacher. 

“As a teacher in our Hebrew and religious classes you sowed in the youthful minds of our children the golden seeds of our religion, and by your patience and affability, endeared yourself to the little ones.

“You have indeed ably seconded your worthy husband’s efforts in every good cause tending to the welfare of the community, the advancement of Judaism, and the benefit of mankind.

“We ask you, Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin, to accept the accompanying gift, as a token of our esteem and appreciation.

“We fervently hope that the blessings of our Almighty Father may be with you during the remainder of your lives, and that you may be spared for many years to see your son follow the good example you have set him.”

Signed on behalf of Holy Blossom Congregation, Solomon, Jacobs, Rabbi; Leo Frankel, Vice-President; Benno Scheuer, Treasurer; Arthur Cohen, Hon. Secretary.

Trustees — J. Cohen, J.P.; Wm. Goldstein, E. Laurence, J. L. Levy, H. N. Loeser, S. Lubelsky, Sigmund Samuel, Jacob Vise.

Signed on behalf of the Jewish Benevolent Society, Ernest Saunders, President; J. Cohen, J.P. Treasurer; Henry David, Hon. Secretary.

Signed on behalf of the Ladies’ Montefiore Society, Rose Loeser, President; Anna G. Cohen, Vice-President; S. Casper Davis, Hon. Secretary; Blanche H. Goldstein, Treasurer. Signed on behalf of the Council of Jewish Women, Edith Jacobs, President; Lily B. Levetus, Vice-President; Helena Frankel, Treasurer; May Samuel, Hon. Secretary.

Mr. Benjamin feelingly responded, and was greeted on all sides by an ovation which fully expressed the high regard and esteem entertained for him.

Brig-Gen Ernest Frank Benjamin, commanding officer of the Jewish Brigade, inspects the Second Battalion. Palestine, October 1944. USHHM

A suitable memento of the occasion was likewise presented to Master Ernest Frank Benjamin.

The souvenir presented to Mr. and Mrs. F. D. Benjamin took the form of a flower-stand so arranged and designed as the make a handsome ornament when not being used for its intended purpose.

Mrs. Benjamin received her guests, who numbered about two hundred, in the Turkish room. She was wearing a beautiful gown of mote grey velvet, with lace and silk embroidery and diamond ornaments, and carried crimson roses tied with satin streamers. The tea table in the rose room was decorated with pink roses and lilies of the valley, swathed with pink and satin ribbons and shade lights, and was presided over by Mrs. S. Samuels.

Among those present were Sir Henry and Lady Pellatt, Major and Mrs. Peuilwin, Dr. and Mrs. Palmer, Major and Mrs. Davison, Mrs. Levesconte, Mrs. A. Fairweather, Mrs. Perrin, Mrs. Campbell, Mrs. Sterling Dean, Mrs. Trees, Miss Trees, Dr. and Mrs. Potion, Mr. S. Samuels, Colonel and Mrs. Mason, Rabbi Jacobs, Mrs. Rennie, Mr. Wyley Grier, Mrs. Hedley and Miss Hedley, Mrs. Miller, Miss Matthews, Mrs. Frankel, Major Michie, Miss Frankel, Mrs. George Gooderham Mitchell, Miss Ada Gooderham, Mrs. Scott, Miss Scott, Mrs. Charles Macdonald, Miss Macdonald, Mrs. Thompson, Mrs. J. Enoch Thompson, Mrs. Moore, Miss Moore, and others. ♦