Founder & Director Benjamin M. Brown

The family history in Sfat goes back to the early 1700s and earlier. Cities from which family members came are written on the gravestones and include: Ternopil, the home of the Baal Shem Tov, Bubrick, Falteshan, and other cities.

Safed, Israel, is the highest city in the Galilee and in Israel and is a citadel, overlooking and guarding the passage of the valley below, the only entrance into the North of Israel from Syria. The history of Safed as a citadel has been identified with Sepph, a fortified town in the Upper Galilee mentioned in the writings of the Roman Jewish historian Josephus.

The family Oral History tradition traces our family from Spain, Portugal, Tunisia, and Galacia. There are both Sephardic and Ashkenazic lineages. Family Last Names include: Lohr, Greenfield, Brockstein, Ettinger, Feldman, Foox, Frank, Golinger, Gonik, Grevsky, Kaniber, Kaplan, Rosenthal, Rothstein, Segal, Shapiro, Shtilman, Silverstein, Teitelbaum, Zaltz, Zwerdling, and others.

Part of Benjamin’s passion is researching the family history through primary source materials such as gravestones and the Montefiore census, to extend the reach of the past into the present. 

Benjamin M. Brown at the family graveyard in Sfat, Israel.


Benjamin M. Brown at the grave of Rabbi Eliezar Greenfield (b.Sfat 1858 d.Sfat 1933), second chair of the synagogue, who received and managed funds from the UJA of NY and was responsible for distributing the funds to the poor, orphans and widows in Sfat.

Rabbi Eliezar Greenfield’s brother, Jacob Bear Greenfield (Yaakov Dov) (b.Sfat 4/14/1896 d.Houston 4/15/1973) established the JB Greenfield Family Chapel which is part of Congregation Beth Yeshuran in Houston, Texas. Hope Foox Brown (Tikvah, b. Sfat 4/15/1921 d. Houston, TX 4/9/2018), Benjamin's paternal grandmother, is shown in the photo standing in between her father (arms crossed) and her uncle JB.  Hope's twin sister is Ann is standing between JB and Uncle Joe (legs crossed).

JB Greenfield, Shaya Foox, Hope Foox, Ann Foox, Joseph and Bertha Lohr, Harry Lohr,

The Greenfield Family Chapel at Congregation Beth Yeshuran in Houston, Texas.

JB Greenfield Chapel

JB Greenfield's daughter Annette Louise Greenfield Strauss  (b. Jan 26, 1924, Houston, TX, d. Dec 14, 1998), attended Columbia University, was a fashion model, a philanthropist, policitican, and served as mayor of Dallas from 1987 – 1991. Recognition of her many years of humanitarian service include the Annette G. Strauss Family Gateway Center, the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin and also the Annette Strauss Artist Square, an open-air Performing Arts area in downtown Dallas.  

Annette Greenfield

Behind Benjamin, and down the hill, is the gravesite of HaAri, the author of the Kabbalah.

In Arabic, adding “ya” to the end of a word denotes “the place of”. The family Last Name Lohr (Lamed Aleph Hey Resh), which is found throughout the Sfat graveyard and gravestones, was known in Arabic as the place of the Lohr Family, or in Arabic, as "Lohrya".


More family members buried in the old cemetery in Sfat.

Dennis Brown, father of Benjamin M. Brown, near the town center in Sfat, in front of the house where our family lived for many generations. Benjamin's grandmother, Tikvah (Hope) Brown (b. Sfat 4/15/1921 d. Houston, TX 4/9/2018) was the last person in the family born in this family house, known locally as the Lore / Lohr (Lamed Aleph Hey Resh) House.




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