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Stern, Menahem

STERN, MENAHEM

STERN, MENAHEM (d. 1834), Hungarian rabbi. Stern was born in a small village near Sziget (Sighet). Among his teachers were Moses Leib of Sasov, the Maggid of Kuzhnitz (Kozienice), and Menahem Mendel of Kosov, and he was ordained rabbi by Meshullam Igra of Tismanitz. Stern served as rabbi of Kalush, Galicia, and then, from 1802, as rabbi and rosh bet din ("head of the bet din") of Sziget. On the death of Judah ha-Kohen *Heller, author of the Kunteres ha-Sefekot, he was appointed av bet din of Sziget in 1819, a post in which he served until his death. He was most concerned at the lack of religious knowledge and observance in the Maramures region, and he traveled about the outlying villages and saw simple Jews, farm workers who had forgotten the Torah and were becoming indistinguishable from their Walachian and Ruthenian neighbors. He visited the villages once or twice a month, gathering the inhabitants together and giving them instruction. He established synagogues and ritual baths and arranged *eruvin in every village of Maramures. He used to say: "Maramures is my garden; I planted it." Stern was the author of Derekh Emunah (1856–60), on the Torah and the festivals. He also wrote a book on the four parts of the Shulḥan Arukh, as well as one on the Psalms, but these were apparently lost in the Holocaust.

bibliography:

J.J.(L.) Greenwald (Grunwald), Zikkaron la-Rishonim (1909), 16–20; idem, Maẓẓevat Kodesh (1952), 23–28; N. Ben-Menahem, Mi-Sifrut Yisrael be-Ungaryah (1958), 87–94.

[Naphtali Ben-Menahem]

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