Rabbi Gershon Meir Engel

           Rabbi Engel was born in Satu-Mare, Rumania in 1917, son of Shmuel Haim and Rachel Engel. He Studied in the famous Yeshivot of Nitra and Pressburq (Bratislava), in Czecho­slovakia, where he received Smicha in 1937. During WW2 he was put into the Hungarian labour Camp, transferred to Russia and attached to the German O.T. and Wermacht. He was liberated by the Russian Army in 1945. In the same year he joined the Haganah in Prague. Made Aliyah with his family In 1948; took part in the War of Independence and in 1949 joined the Permanent forces as a Chaplain and Administrative Officer at Tel Hashomer until 1956 when he accepted a call from South Africa to come and provide spiritual services to a small country community. Between 1956-1970 he served the Hebrew congregations of Standerton, Welkom and Witbank as Rabbi, teacher and Shochet. In 1970 Rabbi Engel was appointed as National Rabbi of Country communities. In this role he traveled the length and breadth of South Africa and South West Africa in an attempt to reach every isolated Jew or Jewish community and managed to provide them with a vast spectrum of spiritual & educational services. His 2 Major contributions were the (1) provision of Jewish educational audio-visual material including a magazine for children which he edited. And (2) the location and mapping out of all Jewish Cemeteries; registration of every person buried therein, ensuring that each grave had a tombstone and arranging for proper maintenance.

            Despite his intention to retire in 1982, Rabbi Engel, nevertheless, accepted the calls of the Potchefstroom & Klerksdorp communities where he officiated until 1993. Altogether, he devoted himself to the S. African Jewish Community for 37 years. Wherever, he lived, his home was open to all, where true was practiced,

 especially in the communities wherein there existed a military unit, with Jewish soldiers - they were all befriended & entertained at the Rabbi's house. Rabbi Engel was a very friendly, kind and caring person with outstanding abilities to listen, empathize and give appropriate advice. A man of deep faith he was mentor and guide not only to his congregants but also to his family in whose lives he was totally involved - despite the great geographic distance.

           He was member of the S.A. Jewish Ex-Service League and of the Hebrew Order of David. Chaplain to the Middelburg Military Camp. Married Adina Reich in 1945 and they had a daughter named Esther.

          Rabbi Engel was our Rabbi in Witbank from 1961 - 1971, and he was the South African Community Rabbi from 1971 - 1982.

          The photos below are from Rabbi Engel's collection. His daughter Esther Tolkin (Engel) kindly allowed me to scan them for our web site. The first Batmitzvah during Rabbi Engel's term was the Batmitzvah of Shana Bernitz and Anne Kramer.


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Rabbi Engel Esther Engel, Rabbi Engel Esther, Mrs. Adina Engel, Rabbi Engel
Shana Bernitz, Rabbi Engel, Anne Kramer  Anne Kramer, Shana Bernitz  Anne Kramer, Shana Bernitz, Sandra Katz
 Photo 7 ?,   Samuel Katz?  Photo 9
 Photo 10 Photo 11  Photo 12
 Photo 13 Photo 14 Photo 15
Photo 16  Photo 17 Photo 18

Gail Kramer, Jill Bernitz, Esther Engel
and  Rabbi Engel

Photo 20 Photo 21

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