Rav Shmuel Lazer Stern, Z”L: Tribute to a Friend

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5 Responses

  1. Raymond says:

    Rabbi Stern was my main religious teacher in both ninth and tenth grades back when I attended Rambam Torah Insitute here in Los Angeles. Back on those days, the religious Jewish community was far, far smaller than it is today. If I am not mistaken, there were no more than two or three very small Orthodox Jewish High Schools in this entire city at that time.

    It has been a very long time since I attended high school, and so specific experiences with Rabbi Stern are very faint in my memory. The general theme of what I remember him by, is his love of Judaism from a very heartfelt perspective. I am not sure I can explain exactly what I mean here, but I will give it a try. He left Rambam after my year in 10th grade, replaced by a Rabbi who had a very intellectual approach to Judaism. I was introduced to Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi’s rational/historical approach to Judaism, and since then this has been reinforced through endless Torah classes I have attended. It is the Aish HaTorah approach, and it is the Rabbi Ya’akov Weinberg approach. And yet, I have felt that there has been something essential missing from all this, that Judaism is not really meant to take such an exclusively cold and clinical approach to G-d, the Torah, and our individual lives. What perhaps has been missing is the heart, true spirituality, and I have long felt that Rabbi Stern embodied that latter approach. In a way, it is a modern day revisit of the varying approaches to Judaism of the Vilna Gaon and my direct ancestor the Ba’al Shem Tov, with Rabbi Stern definitely in the camp of the Ba’al Shem Tov.

    It is both sad, and scary, that Rabbi Stern has passed away. I cannot imagine that he was so advanced in years, but maybe that is because my days as a student in Rambam often seem like they happened yesterday. I cannot speak for others who were his student, and so speaking only for myself, he definitely made a lasting impression on me. Rest in Peace, Rabbi Stern.

  2. yitzchock says:

    as a family member i really appreciate both Rabbi Adlerstien and Raymond’s words. I would like to ask if there is any one else who might have memories that they would be able to share.

  3. Raymond says:

    I hope you do not mind it, but since writing the above, I remembered something about Rabbi Stern that I had forgotten for several decades, but that I now feel is worth posting here.

    I happen to love to read and study, which fit right in with what the Administration at Rambam Torah Institute looked for, but each person is unique in their own way, and one of my brothers was not exactly the contemplative type, preferring action over purely intellectual pursuits. He also got himself into some trouble, and was eventually forced to leave Rambam High School.

    My family could not figure out what to do about my brother, and just about everybody else gave up on him, too…that is, except for one man. That man was Rabbi Stern. Now, bear in mind that Rabbi Stern was himself a highly spiritual person, that was not exactly accepting of much of secular society. One might think that he would be the last person to have even the least bit understanding of my brother’s physically-oriented, sometimes self-destructive behaviors. And yet, somehow, someway, Rabbi Stern saw the spark of holiness in my brother, that is said to exist in every Jew.

    I wish I could say that this had a happy ending. It did not, but the point is, that Rabbi Stern truly practiced what he preached. And sometimes, despite his lack of any interest in scholarship, my brother would quote from the Torah or elsewhere. Clearly, there was a part of him that always did care about his Jewish identity. Maybe, just maybe, Rabbi Stern had something to do with that.

  4. lacosta says:

    i never recall r stern without his sweet smile in spite of all of his tzuris

    i heard the klop of the accident and turned around to see the car slowly riding the sidewalk. who knew that this was the beginning of the last ride….

    he was mashpia on some of my relatives in teh rambam days…

    yehi zichro baruch

  5. menachem says:

    I am also a son if anyone feels gratitude towards my father please learn some mishnayis for him ‘shmuel eliezer ben shaul yechezkel z”l

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