Obituary: Benny Hantman

Born Newcastle, May 5, 1922. Died London, September 28, 2008, aged 86.


Devoted to the Newcastle upon Tyne community, Benny Hantman quietly oversaw major changes in its institutions, writes Faga Speker.

Brought up in the city’s west end, he was one of three sons and a daughter of Hilda and Abe Hantman. In 1939 he volunteered for the RAF and became a wireless officer. While sailing to Belgium in 1944 he was one of only 22 survivors after his ship was torpedoed. He swam for two hours before being rescued.

After the war he joined his father’s business, A. Hantman Tailors. The family belonged to the United Hebrew Congregation’s former Beth Hamedrash Synagogue, known as Ravensworth Shul, close to their business premises.

Following family tradition, Benny was appointed synagogue trustee, assisting his father who was honorary treasurer. He was seen as capable, reliable and having the interests of the shul at heart.

When he oversaw its sale in 1968, he ensured that the proceeds were donated to the Jewish Day School in Newcastle. The substantial sum raised from the sale was largely due to his unstinting efforts.

In 1956 he married his cousin Sonia, who had moved in with his parents after losing her parents in her teens. They were married at Ravensworth shul.

The couple lived in Gosforth, where they attended UHC of Newcastle upon Tyne Synagogue until moving to London three years ago to be nearer their married children.

Benny Hantman is survived by his wife, son, two daughters, and five grandchildren.

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