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    Family Biographies

    Family Biographies


    (This initial material contributed by Bernard Unterhalter - July 2004 )

    updated with a few small corrections Sept. 2011 by Yury Smulansky

    Set out below are details of the family of Michael Gelfand and his brother Bennie Gelfand.  Among the honors bestowed upon Michael is that of Knight of the Order of St. Sylvester. This is a Knighthood bestowed by the Pope.  Michael was probably the only Jew to have been granted this Knighthood.

    (click on photo to enlarge)

    It was bestowed by the Pope in recognition of Michael's many years of work among the people in the back country connected with the mission stations.

    Michael was a devout Jew who always wore "tzitzit" . He was a prolific author of books about the Shona people of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. His book "Tropical Medicine" was the accepted authority in this field. I will try to compile a list of his many published books. See below details of the Michael Gelfand Medical Research Foundation.

    Family Tree

    20. Michael GELFAND , born 26 Dec 1913 in Wynberg, Cape Town, South Africa; deceased 19 Jul 1985 in Harare, Zimbabwe. He married on 26 Jan 1937 in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia, Esther KOLLENBERG , born 26 Nov 1913 in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia; deceased 20 Jun 2001 in Harare, Zimbabwe.

    Children of Michael Gelfand and Esther Kollenberg were as follows:

    43 i Joy Phyliss  (now in New Jersey USA)

    44 ii Isobelle  (now in New York USA?)

    45 iii Anne  (now in Dallas USA)

    43. Joy Phyliss GELFAND , born 29 Oct 1939 in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia. She married on 31 Aug 1960 in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, Tom PHILLIPS , born 15 Apr 1938 in Watford, England.

    Children of Joy Phyliss Gelfand and Tom Phillips were as follows:

    i Claire , born 18 Apr 1965 in Oxford, England. (now in Los Angeles USA)

    ii Stephen , born 15 Sep 1967 in Oxford, England. (now in California USA)

    (married in May 2004)

    44. Isobelle GELFAND , born 7 Jan 1942 in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia. She married on 5 May 1961 in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, Simon WAPNICK , born 26 Oct 1938 in Pretoria, South Africa.

    Children of Isobelle Gelfand and Simon Wapnick were as follows:

    i Janette , born 12 Aug 1965 in Salisbury, Rhodesia. She married on 7 Feb 1993 in US.A., Scott ZEITLIN .

    ii Laura , born 28 Nov 1967 in Salisbury, Rhodesia.

    iii Jonathan , born 21 Jul 1969 in Salisbury, Rhodesia.

    45. Anne GELFAND , born 20 Mar 1944 in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia. She married on 15 Oct 1969 in US.A., Henri PELOSOF , born 9 Apr 1934 in Marseilles, France.

    Children of Anne Gelfand and Henri Pelosof were as follows:

    i Serena , born 27 Nov 1971 in Texas, U.S.A.. married Yury Smulansky

    ii Lorraine , born 15 Apr 1974 in Arizona, U.S.A..

    Bennie Gelfand ,and his family were residents of Salisbury

    21. Bennie GELFAND , born 16 May 1915 in Wynberg, Cape Town, South Africa; deceased 25 Jul 1991 in Kenilworth, Cape Town, South Africa. He married on 29 Jun 1947 in Cape Town, South Africa, Marigold SINGER , born 20 Mar 1925 in Cape Town, South Africa.  


    Bennie Gelfand was born on the 15th June 1915 in Wynberg; in the Province of the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Town, South Africa according to his Birth Certificate, however the true date of his birth was the 16th May 1915 but his Father registered his birth a month later. He was the third child of Lewis Gelfand and Ethel Zalkoff (Salkow) The Family consisted of Michael Gelfand, a brother Abraham who died at the age of two, two sisters Lily and Freda. Abraham is buried in the old Maitland Cemetery in Cape Town.

    The Michael Gelfand Medical Research Foundation

    The Foundation was established in 1986 in memory of the Late Professor Michael Gelfand OBE, CBE, Knight of the Order of St. Sylvester, MD (Cape Town), FRCP, DPH (London), DMR, Hon. LLD (Zimbabwe and Birmingham), Hon. DLitt (Cape Town).

    It is a charitable organisation, welfare number 15/86, with a Board of Trustees whose services are voluntary. Trustees include representatives of the University of Zimbabwe Medical School, of business and professional interests, and Specialists in general practice. Our present Chairman is Dr. Paul Neill, M.B.Ch.B (UZ) MRCP (UK).

    Professor Gelfand was essentially a practical man and the Foundation's objects are practical too; its main aim is to fund postgraduate training and research.

    Since the start of annual awards in 1993 a total of Z$1,477 million has been given to Zimbabwean doctors for postgraduate study: for 4 months, one year and three-year courses, in the following spheres: Ear, Nose & Throat, Clinical Biochemistry, Radiology, Pathology and Ophthalmology. In 1999 it is poposed to offer a grant for research and financial support towards short-term postgraduate medical training.

    The Late Professor Michael Gelfand:

    Professor Gelfand was born in Wynberg, Cape Province, South Africa, in 1912, of immigrant Lithuanian parents, and he died on the 12th July, 1985, while attending a patient in the Avenues Clinic in Harare, Zimbabwe.

    After qualifying in South Africa and working there and in England, in 1939 he joined the then-Southern Rhodesia Medical Service as Physician, Pathologist and Radiologist. He had married a Bulawayo girl, Esther Kollenberg, whom he had met at Cape Town University, and it was natural that, when their first child was due (they eventually had three girls), they decided to join Esther's parents in Rhodesia. Once in government service he quickly gained a reputation by being the only doctor to diagnose correctly the illness of the wife of the Head of the Medical Services!

    In 1962 he joined the then-University of Rhodesia as founding Professor of African Medicine. From 1970 until his retirement, in 1977, he was Professor and Head of Department of Medicine, and thereafter Emeritius Professor and Senior Clinical Research Fellow.

    In 1955 he founded the Central African Journal of Medicine with Joseph Ritchken, and remained its co-editor for many years.

    He was a prolific writer: 330 articles and monographs in various journals on topics ranging from medicine, ethics, philosophy, history and religion, to Shona custom, religion and culture. He wrote more than 30 books, amongst them "The Sick African" and "Livingstone, the Doctor".

    Michael is remembered in Zimbabwe with admiration and affection. Esther Gelfand, passed away in Harare - 30/06/2001 see Warren Hills Cemetery records

    The Appeal:

    Capital built up since 1986 now totals Z$2,4 million. Deloitte & Touche, Chartered Accountants, Harare, act as Hon. Treasurer. There is always a need to increase capital to meet increasing costs, particularly in the face of the current extreme depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar. Donations in hard currency, of whatever value, would be greatly appreciated! The Foundation is a firmly established organisation carrying out a practical and worthwhile job, in commemoration of a man of renown.

    Any persons wishing to help should send their contribution to:-

    Admin. Secretary,
    Michael Gelfand Medical Research Foundation,
    P.O. Box CY230,


    Michael Gelfand Medical Research Foundation,
    Barclays Bank,
    Kurima House Branch,
    Account no: 2133 2584715.

    This appeal is an opportunity for Zimbabweans abroad (and all those interested in supporting sound development in Africa) to help in a very positive way!

    All donations will be acknowledged.

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