The North West London kehillah lost one of its beloved and respected members with the passing of Mr Zev (Willi) Stern, z”l, at the age of 84. Mr. Stern who was active and generally in good health, fell victim to the coronavirus and sadly succumbed to the illness last Shabbos.
Mr. Stern was a tremendous baal tzedakah, supporting local mosdos, as well as many tzedakos abroad. He served for decades as the chairman of governors of Pardes House Primary School and later was instrumental in founding Pardes House Grammar School. He would personally go around collecting for the mosdos together with the Sassover Rebbe, zt”l, and Harav Elchonon Halpern, zt”l, and during many a school’s financial crisis would dip into his own pocket to cover the wages.
Always willing to help a fellow Jew, he would extend loans without expecting to ever be paid back and assisted people with arranging bank loans by offering to serve as guarantor.
He was very close to the Bobover Rebbe, Harav Shlomo, zt”l, who was his wife’s uncle, as well as to chassidus Skver, a connection that went back to his father, and he generously supported their institutions.
Mr. Stern was makpid to be kovea ittim laTorah, attending every night the amud yomi shiur of Rabbi Shlomo Freshwater and recently started the new cycle of Daf Yomi, attending a shiur every morning. He was very attached to the sefer Or Hachaim, which he learned regularly on Shabbos.
Mr. Stern’s offices in South Kensington were located opposite Imperial College. Having experienced life as a lone Jewish student in Harvard Law School in his youth where he had to struggle to keep kosher and daven, he dedicated a large room in his offices for the Jewish students to be served kosher meals at his expense, as well as a minyan for Minchah in the winter.
One of Mr. Stern’s recent accomplishments, to which he devoted much of his energy and resources, was a Jewish centre which he started in Kaunas (Kovna), Lithuania. Doing business in the region, he discovered that the town has a famous medical school to which many Israeli students flock. In order to attract them to Yiddishkeit and to support them, he started a Jewish center, where kosher meals and shiurim are offered.
This “Moadon Yehudi” is served by a Rabbi and Rebbetzin all year round and offers “stipends” to those students who attend lectures on Jewish topics. Over the past eight years of its existence, hundreds of students have discovered their roots through this means, which brought the Sterns much nachas.
Mr. Stern was also instrumental in the building of the first mikveh in Kovna since the Second World War.
Mr. Stern is survived by, ybl”c, his wife Shoshana, children, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren in England, Eretz Yisrael and America who continue in his path.
Yehi zichro baruch.