Lionel J Schneider

Lionel J Schneider (Yehuda ben Shmuel ha Levi) was born Sept 14 1924, in Muizenburg, Cape Town to Sam and Hettie Schneider.

He was the third son in a family of 6 children, the youngest being the only daughter.

At the age of 16, he was able to join the South African army which was then a part of the British Armed Forces.

He served in the South African army during the World War 2 fighting in North Africa and Italy.

Once the Nazis were defeated and the war ended, Lionel went to Israel as the fledgling Jewish country grasped at independence. 

Like many of the other South African “boys”, Jews and non-Jews, “Leo”, as he became known in Israel, was recruited by Israeli Defence Force as a Machalnik and was given a position in the air force because of his previous experience.

He became a Captain and took great delight in reconfiguring “downed” Egyptian planes into viable Israeli Defense planes.

It was in the Israeli Air Force that he met Margot Gassner who had immigrated via Whales from Germany with her family. 

They married on October 8th, 1950 and lived in central Israel where their first daughter, Rosalind (Lindy) was born in 1952.

Although they both loved living in Israel and being close to Margot’s family, in 1953, due to the harsh financial climate in Israel, Leo, Margot and Lindy went to South Africa where another daughter, Michelle, was born in 1954.

Lionel’s love for Israel remained. He was a true Zionist and canvassed the community for funds for Israel and its causes. The family returned on several occasions to see Margot’s family although it was not financially or physically easy.

Lionel and Margot moved to Calgary, Canada in 1977 where they soon became a part of the warm Calgary Jewish community.

Lionel’s great passions were his family, especially Margot, golf, lawn bowls and creating beautiful things with wood for his Shul in Calgary, family, and friends.

He was honoured as an IDF veteran on several occasions.

As he aged, he developed Parkinson’s Disease and dementia. Even as he struggled, he tried to be cheerful.

We will always remember his quiet and deep love for us, his fierce support for those in need, his love for his people, the Jews, and his beautiful and warm smile.

May the neshama of Yehuda ben Shmuel ha Levi continue to have an Aliyah and be a blessing to his family and to all Israel.

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