One of the first casualties of the war in Gaza was Staff Sgt. Nitai Stern, 21, a graduate of Yeshivat Bnei Chayil. His death was the result of “friendly fire” when Israeli tanks mistakenly fired on a house where Stern and other soldiers were sheltered.
Stern came to Bnei Chayil because his attention deficit disorder made it difficult for him to succeed in a traditional academic setting. After graduating, he enlisted in the highly regarded Golani brigade.
The school is seeking donations to dedicate a library in Stern’s memory.
“Nitai was one of those really bright kids who was independent-minded and didn’t make it in any existing framework,” said Dr. Stuart Chesner, director of Bnei Chayil. “He reached the point where we would sit and learn together after school and talk about life. So the idea of a library in his memory is very appropriate.”
Susan Wolf, the yeshiva’s director of development, explained that the idea for the library was an unexpected outgrowth of a January appeal for funds to foot the bill for a therapeutic retreat at Bnei Chayil for residents of the south. The appeal was forwarded by Rabbi Shmuel Goldin to Cong. Ahavath Torah of Englewood congregants, who responded generously.
“After the project for the Southerners came to an end, a substantial donation arrived but it was no longer needed for the project,” said Wolf, a former Teaneck resident. “The donor was asked if he would be interested in using his donation for another meaningful endeavor and he wholeheartedly agreed. As Nitai was a student who loved Tanach [Bible] and was an avid reader, Yeshivat Bnei Chayil thought it appropriate to honor his memory and provide a living, growing memorial to him by building a library in his memory. The shloshim ceremony [30-day memorial] for Nitai just took place and his parents were very appreciative and moved by the idea of a library in his name.”
Wolf said tax-deductible donations may be sent to American Friends of Jacob’s Ladder, 15-11 215th St., Bayside, N.Y. 11360, earmarked for Nitai Stern Memorial. “Please send an e-mail in parallel to firstname.lastname@example.org in order to track the donations to make sure we can get started,” she said. “For anyone who would like to make a substantial donation and have some component of the library (or the larger Beit Midrash that is also being built) designated in honor of or in memory of a loved one, please be in touch.”