Benjamin Kaufman, 86, a World War I veteran who received the Medal of Honor and former executive director of the Jewish War Veterans, died of a heart ailment Thursday at the Mercer Medical Center in Trenton, N.J.

He had lived in Washington from 1948 to 1957 while serving as JWV executive secretary. He had been national commander of the JWV from 1941 to 1943.

Mr. Kaufman earned the Medal of Honor for his heroism in the Battle of the Argonne in France in 1918. He was a first sergeant in an infantry company of the 77th Army Division, known as the Liberty Division. His company was pinned down by a German machine gun. Joined by two volunteers, he charged the nest. One of his men was killed and the other wounded. He himself was shot in the arm, but he continued to charge, firing his pistol until he ran out of ammunition and then throwing grenades.

When he got to the machine gun nest, he found 11 dead Germans. He took a 12th man prisioner. He received other medals for his heroism, including the French Croix de Guerre with palm.

Mr. Kaufman was born in Buffalo, N.Y., and grew up in Brooklyn. He was a graduate of Syracuse University. He was director of the New Jersey Employment Service in Trenton before becoming JWV executive director and returned to Trenton after retiring in 1957.

His first marriage to Gertrude Kaufman ended in divorce.

He is survived by his wife, the former Dorothy Finkle of Trenton; a daughter by his first marriage, Rita De Vries of Arizona; a sister, Jenny Edwards of New York, and two grandchildren.