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Gertner, Levi (1908–1976) and Meir (1905–1976)

GERTNER, LEVI (1908–1976) and MEIR (1905–1976)

GERTNER, LEVI (1908–1976) and MEIR (1905–1976), educationists who profoundly influenced modern Hebrew and Jewish education in Britain. Born in Hungarian Transylvania of ḥasidic parents, they began their education in yeshivot.

From 1929 to 1936 Levi Gertner studied history and philosophy at Berlin University before immigrating to Ereẓ Israel, where he studied at the Hebrew University and taught at the Youth Aliyah village of Geva. He arrived in Britain just before World War ii in 1939 and in 1941 began work for the Zionist Federation. In 1950 he became director of the newly established Jewish Agency Education Department and in 1953 was made head of the Zionist Day School movement in Britain. Under his guidance 16 day schools were established.

He organized and participated in 83 full-length and more than 100 weekend seminars of the Hebrew Seminar Movement. These were conducted in a traditional Jewish atmosphere, but attracted both the religious and the non-observant of all ages, including lecturers, teachers and students, family groups and individuals.

Meir Gertner, a philosopical thinker and intellectual, followed a more academic pattern, although he was for a time deputy director of the Education Department of the Jewish National Fund in Jerusalem. After studying at Hamburg and the Hebrew University, he obtained his doctorate at Oxford. He became director of Hebrew studies at Carmel College and succeeded Isidore Wartski as Aḥad Ha-am Lecturer (later Reader) in Modern Hebrew at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. In 1972 he became J.H. Hertz Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Post-Graduate Hebrew Studies.

He played an active part in Anglo-Jewish communal life as co-chairman of the Jewish Book Council, a founder member of Jewish Book Week, chairman of the Cultural Committee of the World Jewish Congress, and a Council member of the Hillel Foundation.

bibliography:

Jewish Chronicle (July 23, 1976; Aug. 8, 1976).

[Sonia L. Lipman]

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