Phil Redelheim, 89, a fixture in the local Jewish community, died Sept. 20 at his home in Cherry Hill, N.J., after a lengthy illness.
Born in New York in 1919, Redelheim attended Etz Chaim Yeshiva and graduated from Erasmus High School. He attended St. John's and New York universities, where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees, respectively.
Redelheim was drafted into the service in 1941, and served in various posts throughout the country. His jobs included protecting Boston Harbor, serving as a physical education officer and a lifeguard.
He served in Walla Walla, Wash.; at Washington & Lee University in Virginia, where he was trained to work with soldiers who needed prostheses as a result of injuries; and in Miami Beach, where he worked in various hospitals until the end of the war.
After his discharge, he became involved in Jewish communal activities. He worked for Young Judea and the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization in the late 1940s, and moved to the Philadelphia area in 1948, where he served as executive director of the Zionist Youth Commission, and later as program director of Har Zion Temple in Wynnefield.
Over the next 41 years of his career, Redelheim served as executive director at Main Line Reform Temple, Temple Sinai, Har Zion Temple and, lastly, at Congregation Beth El, from which he retired in 1999.
He was an ardent Zionist, a trait that ran in his family. His father, Abraham A. Redelheim, was president of the Zionist Organization of America.
Redelheim was also an avid collector. He had every first-day cover issued by the State of Israel and he collected coins, as well.
But his most prized possessions were the books he collected that had been printed in the city of Rodelheim, Germany. At the time of his death, he had amassed more than 1,500 volumes, and was known to booksellers all over the world as someone who was always looking to acquire an additional Rodelheim volume. In 1995, he and his wife Roselee traveled to the German city and he became the first Redelheim to set foot in the town in more than 300 years.
He was also a contributor to Young Judean Magazine, doing monthly puzzles for the publication, and he owned Camp Shawnee in the Poconos, which was geared toward teens, while also being an accredited summer school.
In addition to his wife, Redelheim is survived by sons Paul Redelheim, David Redelheim, Daniel Redelheim, Nachman Paul and Elie Paul; sister Norma Edison; 17 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by a son, Jonathan Redelheim.