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David H. Ezekiel, 81, Educator and Advocate for Social Justice

May 6, 2010
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David Hirsch Ezekiel, 81, an educator and advocate for social justice, died April 6.

Ezekiel was born in Bryan, Texas. He spent his formative years in the South, moving to Washington, D.C., at age 16.

He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland and his doctorate degree in bacteriology from the University of Illinois.

A promoter of change early on, as a postdoctoral fellow at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Ezekiel removed the "coloreds" and "whites" signs on the bathrooms. Then he and a friend decided to integrate the cafeteria, and demanded service at the "coloreds" counter.

Once married, Ezekiel moved to Philadelphia in 1961, when he took a job as a researcher at Albert Einstein Medical Center.

He and his wife, Ruth, settled in East Oak Lane in 1962 and became integral members of that community. They helped form East Oak Lane Neighbors for Quality Education and School Integration, which was responsible for helping integrate Ellwood Elementary School. They also helped found Oak Lane Neighbors for Peace Now.

In the early 1970s, Ezekiel returned to college at Temple University to earn his teaching certificate. He spent the next two decades of his life as a math teacher at Central High School. During that time, he helped found and was the faculty sponsor of a student group opposing the proposed draft.

Upon retirement, Ezekiel tutored students at Community College of Philadelphia.

A lifelong lover of classical and folk music, Ezekiel played clarinet with the Olney Symphony Orchestra and sang with the PhiloMusica Chorale.

He is survived by daughters Tamar Granor and Rachel Ezekiel-Fishbein; son Aaron Ezekiel; brothers Joseph Ezekiel and Raphael Ezekiel; and nine grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife of 58 years; as well as by a brother, Herbert Ezekiel; and a sister, Miriam Bernhardt.

Memorial contributions can be sent to: the Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Ave., Montgomery, AL 36104, or to the White-Williams Scholars for the Ruth Rosenfeld Ezekiel Library for Scholars, 215 S. Broad St., 10th floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107.

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