Grief and Outrage Over Murder of Reb Menachem Stark, Hy”d

Throngs of grieving mourners fill the streets of Williamsburg on Motzoei Shabbos for the levayah of Reb Menachem Stark, Hy"d. (JDN/Menachem Stark Family)
Throngs of grieving mourners fill the streets of Williamsburg on Motzoei Shabbos for the levayah of Reb Menachem Stark, Hy”d. (JDN/Menachem Stark Family)

A massive crowd, with many participants weeping openly, attended the heartrending levayah on Motzoei Shabbos of Reb Menachem Meshilam Stark, Hy”d.

Countless prayers were uttered on Friday on behalf of the greatly beloved member of the Williamsburg community, a father of seven young children who was kidnapped on Thursday night in front of his office on Rutledge Street. On Motzoei Shabbos, when word came that his body had been found in Great Neck, Long Island, the greater Jewish community was enveloped with heavy grief.

Their voices breaking with emotion, family members and friends described a man with a sterling reputation who was constantly involved in acts of kindness.

“He lived only to do for others,” his brother-in-law, Moshe Strulowitz, recalled in a conversation with Hamodia. “He was incredibly soft-hearted, and fled from any sort of publicity. When approached for a cause, he would give a generous donation, and then add an additional $1,000 – on condition that his donation was kept secret. …”

“I bothered him every week for another cause,” he related. “Every week I received another check.”

On numerous occasions, he would hand a family member a significant sum of money and ask them to deliver it to a needy recipient.

“He would tell me, ‘Say it’s coming from you,” Strulowitz said. “‘He would pay the tuition of children whose families couldn’t afford it, the rents of families who couldn’t pay. He quietly helped support talmidei chachamim.

“He warned me not to tell,” he added.

Rabbi Moshe Indig, a community askan, remembered “an engaging personality,” who was always friendly with everyone.

“Anyone that came to him for money was welcome and he would try to help them,” Indig said.

Reb Menachem’s day would begin in the early morning, he would daven vasikin and learn with his children, and personally bring them to cheder.

His oldest, a girl, is only 16. His youngest is a 1-year-old boy.

Family members and business associates insisted that the niftar had no known enemies, and firmly rejected media reports as unfounded rumors.

“He had a thousand tenants,” Strulowitz said. “The overwhelming majority had only good things to say about him. He was there for them, he would give them his private cell phone number to call in case of problems.

“When someone has so many tenants, there are always going to be a few who are unhappy about something, and they spoke to the media.”

When contacted by Hamodia, numerous, independent sources within and outside the community, echoed Strulowitz’s words, and expressed bewilderment that anyone would seek to harm Reb Menachem, who they described as beloved, extremely kindhearted man.

Police are continuing to investigate the murder.

Among the maspidim at the levayah in Williamsburg was the Satmar Rebbe, Harav Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, shlita. Among the maspidim at the levayah which took place prior to the kevurah in Monroe was Harav Menachem Mendel Teitelbaum, oldest son of the Satmar Rebbe, Harav Aharon Teitelbaum, shlita, and Rav of Satmar in Williamsburg. He was representing his father, who is currently in California.

Other maspidim included his father, Reb Yisrael Stark; his father-in-law Reb Yisrael Yitzchak Bernath; Harav Yosef Dovid Shneibalg, Chernovitzer Dayan; the Lodainer Rav; a brother of the niftar; two brothers-in-law; and Yisrael Perlmutter, a business partner.

He is survived by, ybl”c, his wife Mrs. Bashie Stark, a well-known baales chessed in her own right; his parents, Reb Yisrael and Mrs. Shaine Etta Stark; five sons and two daughters; and five brothers and three sisters.

Yehi zichro baruch