On Thursday evening, February 6, the Teaneck Jewish community merited a unique visit by one of Torah Jewry’s foremost leaders, thanks to the foresight and generosity of Ronald and Beth Stern.
Ronnie strongly believes that this post-Holocaust generation has a special obligation to promote the proliferation of the Jewish nation. It is thus our sacred duty to utilize the remarkable progress of modern medicine in the area of fertility and enable the heroic and selfless specialists in Laniado Hospital’s Fertility Center to expand their facilities to accommodate many more patients seeking their acclaimed services. More than any other medical department, the in-vitro fertilization unit must operate in a special discreet and sensitive manner. Therefore, it is imperative to build a well-planned spacious facility where the couples feel comfortable and relaxed.
The relationship between the Stern and Halberstam families began 76 years ago in Auschwitz to where Ronnie’s father, Chaim Stern, and the Sanzer Rebbe’s father were deported in 1944. Chaim and the Rebbe remained together the entire 14 months of internment under the murderous Nazi monsters, yemach sh’mam. Together they were transported to Warsaw to disassemble the remains of the Ghetto; together they endured the barbaric Death March from Warsaw to Dachau in the scorching July heat. And, together they were forced to shlep the 50 kg cement bags up the hills near the Mueldorf Labor/Death Camp (a subdivision of Dachau).
Young Chaim was greatly inspired by the unlimited ahavat Yisrael of the Rebbe who, despite his frail body, refused to eat anything from the camp kitchen besides the meager ration of bread, and was constantly engrossed in caring for fellow Jews, helping them physically whenever possible or lifting their spirits and saving them from despair. This experience was ingrained in Chaim’s heart and soul. The love for fellow Jews and boundless concern for their welfare became his raison d’etre.
Years ago, when the Stern family was in Israel, where they celebrated Sukkot every year, Chaim heard about Kiryat Sanz in Netanya, the remarkable community of 1,000 families crowned by renowned institutions of Torah and chesed that was built by the Klauzenburger-Sanzer Rebbe, his former “lager-brider” and currently run by his son, the Sanzer Rebbe, shlita. He felt a special urge to visit him and share personal memories of his great father’s legendary influence in the camps. Among the most notable was “the lifesaving miracle of the wellspring of water;” although already printed in several books from eyewitnesses, it was nevertheless fascinating to hear a live description eloquently detailed by Mr. Stern.
“It happened during that brutal Death March from Warsaw to Dachau. The approximately 2,000 inmates (out of the 10,000 brought from Auschwitz to Warsaw) who survived the treacherous ordeal of dismantling the Warsaw Ghetto for two months under subhuman conditions were dehydrated and debilitated. Walking long stretches under the scorching sun exacerbated our scathing thirst. When we spotted a lake or river along the way everyone spontaneously began running towards the water but the Nazi guards riding their motorcycles quickly positioned their machine guns on both sides and mowed down anyone who dared take some water. We were forced to march 20 kilometers a day and the situation became really unbearable and many just gave up. At nightfall after the second day we were permitted to rest on the ground. At that point we heard by word of mouth that the Klauzenburger Rebbe said to dig in the ground by whatever means possible, even with bare fingers, and the Ribbono shel Olam will send us water. We began digging and suddenly fresh cool water spouted from all sides. It was a true miracle that gave us a new lease on life. Not only were we able to quench our terrible thirst, we even washed our faces for the first time in four months. Everybody — except for the Klauzenburger Rebbe himself; he bore in mind that it was Tishah B’Av (postponed) that night.”
Mr. Stern made sure that his son, Ronnie, and grandchildren, Max and Eitan, joined him in this historic encounter with the Sanzer Rebbe, shlita.
The Fertility Center is headed by Dr. Amir Weintraub, a prominent fertility expert. The center includes senior specialists in related fields treating male and female complications. If there was once a need for couples to wait lengthy periods of time for a noted surgeon from the U.S. to come to Israel to perform a particular surgery in a halachically permissible method, this unique procedure is now available “in-house” in Laniado Hospital’s Fertility Center with almost perfect results, b’ezrat Hashem.
Every year the unit is privileged to help in the birth of 150 babies, b’H. In the 19 years since its opening, approximately 2,500 babies have been born through its expert services, b’ezrat Hashem. The unrelenting efforts by couples deprived of parenthood seeking a remedy for their condition is indescribable. The enhancement of the professional level of Laniado Hospital’s in-vitro fertilization unit triggered a substantial increase in the volume of couples seeking its services. Thus, it has become imperative to double the size of the Fertility Center.
The leadership of Laniado Hospital, the American Friends of Laniado Hospital, the medical staff of the Shefa Chaim Fertility Center, and, of course, the hundreds of couples yearning to be helped at the Center are truly grateful to the Sterns for their magnanimous undertaking to give hope and remedy to the many couples praying to be blessed with children of their own. This hakarat ha’tov was graciously expressed by the Sanzer Rebbe, shlita, who in a rare appearance graced the home of the generous benefactors, Ronnie and Beth Stern, to extend his berachot to them and the many honorable guests from the Teaneck community who came to give chizuk to the Sterns and support for the healthy growth of the Jewish nation through the high-quality professional services of the Shefa Chaim Fertility Center at Laniado Hospital in Netanya, Israel.