LEVY, BENJAMIN (c. 1650–1704), founder of the London Ashkenazi community, son of Loebel or Levy Moses of Hamburg. He arrived in London in about 1670, made a fortune, and in 1697 became one of the 12 original Jewish brokers in London. He is said to have been instrumental in procuring the charter for the reorganized East India Company and was a "proprietor" (i.e., member of the board) of the company in charge of New Jersey. Though attached to the Sephardi congregation, he purchased the original cemetery for the Ashkenazi community in 1696. On his death, leadership of this community was assumed by his kinsman Moses *Hart (1675–1756). The latter's daughter Judith (1707–1803) married Benjamin's son ELIAS (d. 1750). In 1790 Judith Levy defrayed a large part of the cost of reconstructing the Great Synagogue which her father had rebuilt in 1722.
Another BENJAMIN LEVY (d. 1693), born in Cracow, lived in Recife (Brazil), before becoming ḥazzan and shohet of the London Sephardi community from about 1664. He was the recipient in London of enthusiastic communications regarding *Shabbetai Zevi.
C. Roth, History of the Great Synagogue (1950), passim; A.M. Hyamson, Sephardim of England (1951), 41–44, and passim; L.D. Barnett, Libro de los Acuerdos (1931), passim; J. Sasportas, Ẓiẓat Novel Ẓevi, ed. by Y. Tishbi (1954), 71 (44b). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Katz, England, 180–82, index; T. Endelman, Jews in Georgian England (1979, 19992), index.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.