CURPEN’S DEATH ROBS ISRAEL AND JEWS OF A VERY GOOD FRIEND – 4 NOVEMBER 2009
Israel and Southern African Jewry lost a dedicated and loyal friend with the tragic death of Soopaya ‘Baby’ Curpen in Mauritius. Curpen drowned following a suspected heart attack when swimming at Flic n Flac Beach. He was 75.
Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, Spiritual Leader and CEO to the African Jewish Congress, was unable to attend the funeral, instead sending a written eulogy that was read out by Owen Griffith, Chairman of the Island Jewish Congregation. This emphasised Curpen’s enthusiastic championing over many years of Mauritius-Israel ties, often under very difficult circumstances.
“More than anyone else, Baby Curpen pioneered enduring ties of friendship between Israel and Mauritius. As the founder and long serving president of the Amicale Maurice Israel, he ensured that a continual process of cultural, intellectual and political exchanges took place” Rabbi Silberhaft wrote. He further commented that it was to a great extent through the efforts of Curpen, a non-Jew, that it had been possible for Jewish communal life to take root on Mauritius.
In addition to his work in the AMI and Jewish communal affairs, Curpen contributed actively to the greater society, particularly in the charitable field. The news of his death has brought to light various accounts by individual Mauritians of how he had assisted them in years gone by.
MESSAGE FROM RABBI MOSHE SILBERHAFT
It is with great sorrow that the African Jewish Congress bids farewell to our dear friend, Baby Soopaya Curpen. Our sincerest condolences go to his Wife, the Curpen Family, the Amicale Maurice Israel and the Jewish community of Mauritius.
Baby Curpen, more than anyone else, pioneered enduring ties of friendship between Israel and Mauritius. As the founder and long serving president of the Amicale Maurice Israel, he ensured that a continual process of cultural, intellectual and political exchanges took place. To the end, his enthusiasm remained undiminished.
It was also to a great extent through the efforts of Baby that it has been possible for Jewish communal life to take root on Mauritius. Through his continual input, encouragement, logistical assistance and generously making available of the AMI facilities, Mauritius today has an organized Jewish presence, perhaps the youngest in the Diaspora.
Baby participated fully in the affairs of the community, and the AMI itself has continued to be remarkably active, despite the often difficult environment in which it has had to operate. In addition, he contributed actively to the greater society, particularly in the charitable field.
With the passing of Baby Curpen, not only Mauritius, but Israel and the Jewish people as a whole have lost a good friend.
He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. May he rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing.
With all good wishes....Moshe
RABBI MOSHE SILBERHAFT