It is with profound sadness that we announce that Yechiel Michael Lehavy, 94, passed away on May 29, 2023 at his residence in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. He lived in Margate, NJ for 50 years with Dalia, his wife and “match made in heaven”, before moving to Pennsylvania to be closer to his daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren.
Yechiel was born in Kiel, Germany in 1928 to Yaakov and Toni Feuer. Yechiel witnessed Hitler’s rise to power and shared memories of that time with his family. His family, including sisters Tova and Yaffa, escaped Germany and fled to Israel, which was then Palestine, in 1934. They settled in Kfar Saba, and he lived there until he joined the fighting group called the Palmach in 1945 which fought for Jewish independence against the British Mandate in Palestine. While in the Palmach, Yechiel smuggled Jewish refugees into Palestine over the Syrian mountains and helped establish Ramat HaNegev Kibbutz in 1947. Once Israel was declared a state in 1948, Yechiel served in Israel’s Defense Forces in the Negev Brigade and fought in Israel’s War for Independence and later in the 1956 Sinai Campaign. Yechiel was one of Israel’s creators, and these early experiences transformed him into a strong man with a fighter’s spirit who was always there for his family and the people he cared about.
Yechiel moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania after the 1956 war but always kept Israel, his family, and his fighting spirit at the forefront. Yechiel earned his ABD from the University of Pennsylvania in Anthropology and led excavations as an archaeologist in Cyprus. He then moved to Margate, New Jersey when he began working as a professor at Atlantic Cape Community College where he taught sociology and geography from 1973 until he retired in 2006.
Teaching was not merely a job for Yechiel; it was a calling that permeated every aspect of his life. His enthusiasm for sharing knowledge extended far beyond the classroom. Even in everyday conversations, Yechiel’s answers to simple questions often transformed into lessons, much to the delight of his associates (and sometimes to the dismay of his children when they became very long). His intellectual curiosity was always there, leaving a lasting impression on all those fortunate enough to know him.
Yechiel loved stamp collecting, and he amassed enormous stamp collections reflecting Israel’s history, published articles in Israel philatelic magazines, and researched Jewish genealogical histories using postcards as clues. He enlisted a vast network of relatives and friends around the world to collect stamps for him, including Australia, Israel, Germany, Portugal, Singapore, and the United States.
Yechiel also believed in serving his own community in America. He served as the Union president of his college, was an active member of NJEA, founded the Jewish students association at ACCC, and served on Atlantic County’s culture and heritage society. Upon his retirement, he became an active volunteer serving on the board of the Avoda Scholarship, a member of the Holocaust survivors group at JFCS, and spent his days solving puzzles.
Yechiel’s presence was a source of comfort, support, and guidance to his family and friends. He was always there to help or provide words of wisdom during times of need.Yechiel is survived by his three children Elana, Nadav, and Ophir and six grandchildren Celia, Coby, Juliette, Cale, Ethan (aka Eitan), and Aria who loved him dearly.
Relatives and friends are invited to a Graveside Service, Thursday, June 1, 2023, 10:30am at Beth Kehillah Cemetery, Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234
Contributions in his memory may be made to Avoda P.O. Box 3120, Margate, NJ 08402.
Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Roth-Goldsteins’ Memorial Chapel www.rothgoldsteins.com