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Obituary: Dr Ephraim Jaffe

Dedicated Manchester geriatrician with a passionate love of Israel

    Undoubtedly one of the best known doctors in North Manchester, with a distinguished and wide-ranging medical career, Dr Ephraim Jaffe, who has died aged 96, was particularly loved for his communal work.

    Dr Jaffe, tall, softly-spoken and with a twinkle in his eye, was a mainstay of Higher Crumpsall and Higher Broughton Synagogue of which he was president three times and eventually its life president. The synagogue finally closed just months after Dr Jaffe’s death last year.

    Ephraim was the seventh of eight children born to Golda Rivka and Wolf Jaffe, immigrants from Rokiskis in northern Lithuania. The family settled in Manchester where Wolf became a fent merchant — a textile dealer. He attended  the “Jews’ School” in Cheetham, then Manchester Central High School, followed by yeshiva.

    Bent on becoming a mathematician, he was about to take up his place at Manchester University when the Second World War broke out.

    He switched disciplines to study medicine. By the end of the war he was tending the war wounded, brought back to Britain from France and Italy, becoming one of the first doctors to use the new “wonder drug”, penicillin.

    Ephraim met his beloved wife, Yetta Bernard, at a religious Zionist youth movement in Manchester, Torah v’Avodah. By the time he was studying medicine, Yetta, who died in 1994, was training at Manchester Royal Infirmary as a physiotherapist. The couple worked together briefly at the Jewish Hospital in Elizabeth Street in north Manchester, and married in 1948. They had two sons and three daughters. Yetta continued to work at the city’s Hope Hospital.

    Throughout Ephraim Jaffe’s long life he combined a passionate love of Israel with an equal devotion to medicine. He specialised in geriatric medicine for more than half a century and had an extensive practice in east Manchester.

    He was medical officer to ten retirement homes and served as medic to such institutions as the Manchester Yeshiva, the Orthodox girls’ seminary, and the Jewish Agency. This latter post meant that Dr Jaffe examined thousands of would-be immigrants to Israel.

    But although he and Yetta were keen to emigrate, themselves, they chose to stay in Manchester for the sake of Yetta’s widowed mother.

    There Dr Jaffe met the Queen and the Pope; Her Majesty at the opening of St Mary’s Hospital, and the Pope through his work for the North West National Health Council.

    The central pillar of Dr Jaffe’s life was religious Zionism, beginning with Torah v’Avodah, on whose national executive he sat throughout the 1940s. He played a leading role in British Mizrachi for more than 40 years.

    One of his favoured groups was the Lavi Functions Committee, set up to support Kibbutz Lavi in the Galilee, which had been started by British olim.

    He also worked for committees supporting Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. He became an executive member of both the Zionist Central Council in Manchester and the community’s Jewish Representative Council.

    But he was perhaps best known for his long affiliation with his synagogue, Higher Crumpsall, whose merger with Higher Broughton he oversaw while president.Dr Jaffe’s long, rangy figure was a familiar sight on the front row of the men’s seating in Higher Crumpsall. For decades he was the resident ba’al tekiah, or shofar-blower, often acting as secondary cantor during the  High Holy Day services. His deep knowledge of religious sources meant he was frequently consulted by rabbis on medical-halachic questions.

    Dr Jaffe is survived by five children (Gwen Bergin, Barry Jaffe, Victor Jaffe, Shelley Sluckis, Terry Markiewicz), 15 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.

    JENNI FRAZER

     

    Dr Ephraim Jaffe: born Manchester, November 26, 1920. Died August 30, 2017

     

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