A prominent philanthropist and well-loved member of the London Jewish community, Ze’ev Stern was born in 1935 in Budapest, Hungary. He passed away on March 22 due to complications of COVID-19.

He was the youngest of the three children of Chaim Stern, a wealthy textile manufacturer whose company supplied the Hungarian government.

In 1944, after the Nazi occupation of Hungary, Stern and his family were deported to Bergen-Belsen. On one occasion, he is said to have celebrated the holiday of Simchat Torah in the camp surrounded by German soldiers.

After surviving the war, he settled in Switzerland for several years before emigrating to New York in 1952, where he pursued studies at Yeshiva University and then Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass.

Marrying his London-born wife, Shoshana Stempel, in 1957, the couple moved to London in 1960. Early in his career, he established in London in 1971 a kosher canteen which welcomed students of Imperial College, located opposite his offices at Albert Court. When he expanded his business to Lithuania, he became a supporter of the country’s Jewish institutions.

“He had a most extraordinary life, with many ups and downs,” a friend told The Times UK. “It was almost as if he found it impossible to see the downside. But he always saw the upside, which got him into trouble. After Belsen, maybe it was difficult for him to be scared of anything else. The thing about Willi was his charm and intellect.”

Stern cherished his daily regiment of Torah study, lovingly studying a page of Talmud daily until his very last days. Beloved by his community for his charitable endeavours, he would extend loans to struggling community members, not expecting to be paid back. He was known for his willingness to serve as a guarantor on bank loans, helping many regain their financial footing.

He is survived by his wife and six children, in addition to many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Readers are invited to express their condolences or memories of the departed in the Reader Comments box that follows this article.

To provide additional information for this article, or to submit the names and information about other Jewish victims of the coronavirus, please use this form.