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Rabbi Jonathan Max Mielke, of Gulfport

Rabbi Jonathan Max Mielke, who led Congregation Beth Sholom in Gulfport and served as director of Judiac studies at the Pinellas County Jewish Day School in Clearwater, died Friday (Nov. 9, 2001) at Largo Medical Center. He was 55.

A native of Krugersdorp, South Africa, Rabbi Mielke was ordained at Minister's Training College in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1966. He earned a master's degree in Semitics and Judaica from the University of South Africa in Pretoria, where he later taught. He served as a rabbi in South Africa for 30 years before he moved to Florida in 1999.

It was on a vacation _ a trip won by his wife, Faye_ to Florida in May 1999 that the couple noticed an advertisement in a Jewish newspaper that Congregation Beth Sholom at 1844 54th St. S in Gulfport was looking for a rabbi. After a meeting with the board, Rabbi Mielke was chosen to lead the congregation and moved to Largo from Cape Town, South Africa, in August 1999.

Rabbi Mielke was an instructor at the Pinellas County Jewish Day School in Clearwater, where his daughter, Keren, was enrolled. He was later named director of Judaic studies.

He was a member of the Jewish Federation of Pinellas County and the Tampa Bay Jewish Educators Council.

He served as a volunteer during the Six Day War in 1967.

Survivors include his wife, Faye; a son, Allon Solomon Mielke, Cape Town; two daughters, Gila Mielke, Cape Town, and Keren Mielke, Largo; two brothers, Louie and Dorin, both of South Africa; a stepdaughter, Rosene Shapiro, Australia; and his stepfather, Gunther Mielke, South Africa.

David C. Gross Funeral Homes, Beth David Chapel, St. Petersburg, is in charge of arrangements.