(This initial material
contributed by Bernard
Unterhalter - July 2004 )
updated with a few small
corrections Sept. 2011 by Yury Smulansky
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.
on photo to enlarge)
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.
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.
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,
of Michael Gelfand and Esther Kollenberg were as follows:
i Joy Phyliss (now in New Jersey USA)
ii Isobelle (now in New York USA?)
iii Anne (now in Dallas USA)
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.
of Joy Phyliss Gelfand and Tom Phillips were as follows:
Claire , born 18 Apr 1965 in Oxford, England. (now in Los Angeles USA)
Stephen , born 15 Sep 1967 in Oxford, England. (now in California USA)
in May 2004)
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.
of Isobelle Gelfand and Simon Wapnick were as follows:
Janette , born 12 Aug 1965 in Salisbury, Rhodesia. She married on 7 Feb
1993 in US.A., Scott ZEITLIN .
Laura , born 28 Nov 1967 in Salisbury, Rhodesia.
Jonathan , born 21 Jul 1969 in Salisbury, Rhodesia.
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
of Anne Gelfand and Henri Pelosof were as follows:
Serena , born 27 Nov 1971 in Texas, U.S.A..
married Yury Smulansky
Lorraine , born 15 Apr 1974 in Arizona, U.S.A..
Gelfand ,and his family were residents of Salisbury
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.
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
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
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
Michael is remembered in Zimbabwe with admiration and affection. Esther
Gelfand, passed away in Harare - 30/06/2001 see Warren
Hills Cemetery records
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:-
Michael Gelfand Medical Research Foundation,
P.O. Box CY230,
Michael Gelfand Medical Research Foundation,
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
All donations will be acknowledged.