Monday, May 05, 2008

In Memoriam: Sigmund F. Stern

Today (1 Iyar) is the 17th yahrzeit of my father a"h and the following was published in the Jewish Press on the occasion of his fourth yahrzeit in 1995:

Fourth Yahrzeit of Sigmund F. Stern
by Zev Stern, Ph.D.
[From Jewish Press May 5, 1995]


The first day of Iyar 5755 marks the fourth yahrzeit of my father, Sigmund F. Stern (Shimon Alter ben Moshe) A”H. It is fitting that my father should have entered Gan Eden during the week between Yom Hashoah and Yom Ha’Atzma’ut, a week when Jews ascend from the low point of being dirt under the world’s feet to the high mountain of sovereignty and independence.
My father personified the strength that enabled us to climb out of the pit and up on the mountain. An amateur boxer in his youth between the wars, he would not hesitate to take on the Nazi thugs whose favorite sport was harassing Jews on the streets of his native Vienna.
Later, seeing the writing on the wall, he followed the lead of Avraham Avinu and left his native land when the leaving was good, trusting in G-d to guide him to safety. World War II saw him fighting the Nazis, first with the French and then with the American Army.
When the war was over, he married my mother and raised a family of Shomrei Torah U-Mitzvot during those difficult postwar years when that required extraordinary struggle and self-sacrifice. For us it is difficult to imagine a Brooklyn without thriving Torah centers, without the shteiblach, kosher pizza shops and other amenities that our generation takes for granted. My father used to shlep to Washington Heights for Rav Breuer’s meat because he did not trust the kosher butchers in Brooklyn.
My father was a soldier and, as General MacArthur said, old soldiers never die, they just fade away. My father may have faded away from earthly sight, but he will remain in our hearts until the process begun in Iyar 47 years ago will be complete and we will be united again in the glorious light of Mashiach.

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