Professor Efraim Gil


Efraim Gil was an outstanding man, city planner and professor.  We knew him for many years while he taught Environmental and City Planning at Governors State University in the southern suburbs of Chicago. He was a dedicated and effective community leader. He was very well informed and always gave back to the community.

Efraim also served as a City Planning Consultant, assisting numerous communities in their planning efforts. He wrote Comprehensive Plans and Zoning Ordinances for a number of communities, including Kankakee City and Kankakee County.

Dr. Gil received his B.A. in Political Science from San Jose State University, his masters in community planning from the University of Cincinnati and his doctorate in public administration from the University of Illinois. He was a professor at Governors State University in Illinois for 30 years. Dr. Gil was a life-long proponent of "communities of loving care" believing that people of all faiths could learn to live together in a way that supported each other and protected planet Earth.

Efraim had an incredible life story. He was born in the old Soviet Union in the Ukraine under Stalin and the Communists.  Not an easy life for a young child.

When he was a young boy the Nazi's invaded and conquered Chernovitz, where he lived.  His Father had already left with the Russian Army to fight the Nazis.  The Nazis rounded up all the Jews from his neighborhood, and Efraim, his Mother and his 6 month old brother were transported by cattle car, barge, and forced march.  They were interred, along with 250,000 other Jewish prisoners in a Jewish Village to the north, Jurin, which was enclosed with barbed wire and became a prison camp. Efraim talked of hardship, hunger and fear. But he also talked about Ukranian people who brought food to the residents, slipping it through the barbed wire into the camp.

Four years later word came that the Soviets were reconquering the area, but that the Nazis were killing the Jews in the camps as they retreated. The Rumanian and Nazi guards had run, and in the resulting chaos Efraim, his Mother, and Brother along with many other Jews cut the barbed wire and ran into the woods.  Efraim was separated from his Mother and wandered in the woods for several days.  Eventually, they were reunited and returned to Jurin which was now free of Nazis.


When the Soviets reconquered the area the residents wanted to kill the Nazi prison guards. But the Rabbi said no - we are not like that. The Communist soldiers quickly shot the Nazi guards and ended that situation.

Efraim's father died during the war. His mother decided to send Efraim with a youth group traveling to what was then Jewish Palestine.  Efraim traveled by train across Europe with this group. Each border crossing took a different strategy, sometimes claiming to be a citizen of the next country.  Efraim arrived in Holland with his group, and then went on to Israel.  In Israel he lived in Kibbutz Kfar Glickson.  As an adult, he joined the Israeli Navy and fought in the Suex Canal campaign.

scape the Soviet Union, taking Efraim and his younger brother with her.  At each country border she would claim to be a citizen of the next country heading east to freedom.

Efraim’s Mother had planned to follow him to Israel within six months with his Brother.  However, the Soviets closed the borders and Efraim did not see her for 22 years.

After the Navy, Efraim wanted to go to school in America but could not get a Visa.  He was permitted to go to Cuba to begin college. He was in school when the Communists began their take over in Cuba. He talked of hearing gunfire while in the classroom. He finally made it to America and finished college.

Efraim became a City Planner and worked for ASPO (The American Society of Planning Officials). He researched and wrote numerous articles about city planning.

He took his wife and family back to Israel where he served as the County Engineer for Jerusalem County.  As a citizen of Israel he was also a member of the Army Reserve. He served in the Israeli Army in the North during the war.

He was reunited with his mother and brother who immigrated from the Soviet Union to Israel. He told a humorous story- his mother had forbidden him to speak Yiddish.  But he had learned the language from his Grandparents who had sworn him to secrecy, and  he never told his Mother.   She was was not really surprised but said “I knew it” with a some frustration.

Efraim spoke numerous languages.  He spoke German, Russian, Yiddish, Spanish, English, and Hebrew.

Returning to the United States he became a Professor at Governors State University in the College of Environmental Science.  Efraim also formed a consulting firm with his wife Enid Lucchesi Gil. They worked on numerous city planning consulting projects in the Chicago metropolitan region.

Efraim was very proud of his childen, Naomi Abramovitz (Samuel) and Daniel Shimon Gil (Shoshannah Fineberg).  He told us that he and his wife had the perfect Jewish family - his son was studying to be a Rabbi and Jewish folk song musician, and his daughter became an attorney, and she married a Doctor.  

Efraim was a voice of moderation and tolerance.  He would summarize our sometimes rancorous national political elections. He was fond of saying that at the end of the day our choice was not between a Nazi and a Communist, it was between a Republican and a Democrat, two good
individuals.

Efraim was a quality individual and a leader and teacher in urban and environmental planning. He contributed to our society and country. We miss him.

______________

Efraim Gil

September 18, 1934 to April 13, 2007. Efraim Zvi Gil born in
Chernovitz, Ukraine was a Holocaust survivor.

Dr. Gil received his B.A. in Political Science from San Jose State University, his masters in community planning from the University of Cincinnati and his doctorate in public administration from the University of Illinois. He was a professor at Governors State University in Illinois for 30 years. Dr. Gil was a life-long proponent of "communities of loving care" believing that people of all faiths could learn to live together in a way that supported each other and protected planet Earth.

He retired to Boca Raton, Florida in 2004 and was a member of the Carlebach Minyan at the Boca Raton Synagogue. Dr. Gil is survived by his wife Enid; his children Naomi Abramovitz (Samuel) and Daniel Shimon Gil (Shoshannah Fineberg); his sister Shoshannah Kahane and brother Rafi Schauer; his grandchildren Claire, Cohavit, Max, Tsipora, Nehama and Ruth; as well as a host of friends throughout the world who loved him and his vision. He will be greatly missed.