Hadji Benilevi (1934-2023)

Born in Iran in March 1934, Hadji Benilevi was the youngest of six children. His father died while Hadji was only two years old, leaving the boy to join his brothers in the rug business at a young age. 

Hadji played a pivotal role in expanding the family company business into the U.S. market. He was a partner in Karim Rug corporation, a partner in Sarv Rug Corporation, and one of the founders of ORICA, the office complex dedicated to the rug wholesale industry in Secaucus New Jersey.

Following his two years of service in the United States Army during the period between the Korean and Vietnam wars, Hadji returned to Iran to find a wife. He fell in love with a young girl named Diana, whom he soon married and had three children. However, the revolution in Iran forced them to flee, leading them to start a new life in Queens, NY. His perfect English, acquired during his military service, helped to further accelerate business in the U.S. In 1982, he founded Benilevi Rug Corp, a carpet import company specializing in Pakistani and Indian carpets. Headquartered in ORICA, the company was run by Hadji with his son Mitchell.

Hadji was known for his friendly and humorous nature. He had a remarkable ability to maintain kindness even towards those who may have wronged him, earning him the nickname “Hadji Good Boy” among his friends. Indeed, there is a famous story his family tells about him. Once, someone stole his phone. Despite knowing that the man was a thief, Hadji upheld his honor by simply handing the man $20 and thanking him for “finding his phone.”

Hadji had an amazing memory and remembered all the birthdays of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren by heart. Even in his later years, he would stay up until midnight to be the first to wish them a happy birthday.

Tragically, he passed away very suddenly on May 23, 2023. Active until the end, he had visited his office on the day of his passing, even going to lunch with visiting family members and just weeks before, he danced at his great-granddaughter’s bat mitzvah, leaving his family with cherished memories.

Hadji Benilevi is survived by Diana, his wife of 60 years; his children Mitchell, Serena, and Danny; nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, including two born after his passing.

He will be deeply missed by friends and the family that loved him as well as the many colleagues who respected him.

Author: Sally James

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