When Barry Stern, 48, died on Monday at Hackensack University Hospital and Medical Center, his wife, Rachel, had already taken steps to ensure that his death would become a “catalyst,” inspiring others to “give the gift of life.”
In a Facebook posting last Wednesday – when her husband was admitted to the hospital in critical condition following a fall on Queen Anne Road – Rachel Stern wrote movingly of his compassion, noting that while he had never created a living will nor registered as an organ donor, she knew he believed strongly in the mitzvah of organ donation.
She asked others to consider this “amazing mitzvah” as well.
“Barry may not be able to donate his organs,” she wrote, “but it would make this tragedy have more meaning if his situation were to be a catalyst for other people to take care of this,” making clear their own intention to become organ donors.
Rachel Stern’s firm belief that her husband would want to benefit others is echoed in the comments of his close friends.
Israel Wahrman, whose friendship with Barry Stern spanned more than 22 years, called him “one of the sweetest, kindest, most decent people I have ever met,” devoted to both friends and family. “Barry had sound values,” said Wahrman. “He was honest and straightforward.”
|An appeal to the community|
|Rachel Stern’s Facebook entry provides contact information for those interested in becoming organ donors. She points out that information can be found at http://www.uslivingwillregistry.com/ and that “organ donor registration, at least in New Jersey, can be done via one’s driver’s license, which can be imprinted with the words ‘organ donor.'” In addition, she writes, potential donors might consider registering with the Halachic Organ Donor Society at www.hods.org.|
Stern, born in Queens, lived in Teaneck for about 25 years. He was discovered on the ground outside the Lazy Bean CafÃ© there last Wednesday morning. Following an investigation and a review of security videotapes, Teaneck Police Capt. Dean Kazinci discounted the possibility that Stern was hit by a vehicle, concluding that he had apparently slipped on a mound of ice. According to Wahrman, his friend was on his way to have breakfast with two of his daughters.
A founding member and active leader of Teaneck’s Arzei Darom, he was honored at the synagogue’s dinner two years ago. “[Barry] was someone his synagogue could always count on to do whatever was needed,” said Wahrman. In addition, he said, while Stern worked in the computer field, “he was committed to Torah study,” spending hours each day learning.
Wahrman noted that Stern had been ordained as a rabbi several years ago, but that “he never used this ordination to earn money.” It was his understanding, he said, that Stern was now studying for a second rabbinical ordination.
Stern was also deeply committed to the State of Israel, said Wahrman. Two of his daughters, Tziporah and Chloe, made aliyah, and his daughters Rivka and Zahava, recently returned from a program in Israel where they were trained to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state.
Stern is survived by his wife as well as by his daughter Tziporah Elana, her husband, Gedaliah Levy, and their daughter, Chaya Leah; his daughter Chloe and her husband, Jonathan Kleinburd; and daughters Rivka Aliza Stern, Zahava Rena Stern, and Devorah Ettel Stern. He is also survived by his parents, Thelma and Abraham Stern, and sisters, Karen Abraham and Tammy Hikind.