What a swell party our Leizer had!

Leizer Abrahamson, the grand old man

Leizer Abrahamson, the grand old man of the tiny Jewish community celebrated his 107th birthday in Bulawayo on the 2nd April 2006.

He's certainly the oldest Jew in the Southern African region and unless we hear to the contrary, perhaps the world's oldest Jew. Leizer recited Haftorah in the community's Sinai Shul, as he has done often. On Erev Shabbat he said Kiddush with a strong voice at Savyon Lodge - the only Jewish Old Age home in Zimbabwe where he has resided for the last 30 years.

Leizer, born in 1899 at a shtetl near Bialistok, Poland, has lived through three centuries. He came out to then Rhodesia and joined his brother Morris, who had a trading store in Bulawayo, in 1926. His wife for 40 years, Baila, died in 1978. He drove a car until he was 93.

Among the hundred guests and misphocha (family) at Leizer's birthday party was his nephew, the Hon. Abe Abrahamson, aged 83, who was a minister in the former Rhodesian government and now lives in Johannesburg. Abe quipped "with my uncle Leizer at 107 and I recently celebrated by second barmitzvah at 83, let's hope that between us we can complete two centuries."

Leizer was heard to remark "I'm like one of those old cars, the engine is still working but the bodywork could do with some repairs."

Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, of the African Jewish Congress and Rabbi for country communities with Bulawayo's Rabbi Nathan Asmoucha paid warm tributes to Leizer. African nurses and helpers at the home marched in the party singing "Happy Birthday Dear Leizer".

The grand old man has ideas on longevity. ďDonít eat between meals and avoid fizzy drinks and alcohol." He gave up smoking over 30 years ago and until quite recently took daily walks.

Needless to add many wished Leizer - bis a hundred and tzvanzig...until 120.

And so say all of us !

Ivor Davis