CAPE TOWN, Feb. 10 (JTA) — Leon Wilder, known to many as the father of the Cape Town Jewish community, died suddenly on Feb. 3 at 76. A prominent businessman, Wilder held leadership positions across the entire spectrum of Jewish life in South Africa, and gained national and international recognition for his work on behalf of the Jewish community and Israel. On the international front, he was, for eight years until 1995, a member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel. He was also a past member of the World Board of Trustees of Keren Hayesod. “Businessman, benefactor, backbone of the community, Leon Wilder was all this — and more,” said Philip Krawitz, chairman of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies’ Cape Council, of which Wilder was honorary life vice president. “His devotion and commitment to Israel and South African Zionism knew no bounds,” said Jonathan Silke, chairman of the Western Province Zionist Council. Paramount among his multifaceted roles were those of unofficial diplomat and arbiter, friends and colleagues said. At any hint of communal problems, he was the first to volunteer to smooth things over. Wilder and his wife, Sybil, celebrated their golden wedding anniversary only a few days before he died.
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