Zeev Rothschild passed away on April 1—his 63rd birthday—after contracting COVID-19.

When Rothschild saw families in his community struggling, having fallen on hard times, he didn’t just refer them elsewhere or even give them a generous check. He opened a non-for-profit grocery store so they could shop respectably and maintain their dignity.

A selfless individual, he gave everything to his community. From at-cost shopping to mediating disputes and financial counseling, he was the address that the Jewish community in Lakewood, N.J., turned to for help and a listening ear.

He would often sit with individuals until the wee hours of the morning, listening to their worries and pain, and helping them chart a way forward. Rothschild personally supported countless widows and orphans, sometimes serving as the only person between them and destitution.

No matter what time of night his many appointments concluded, he was up before dawn for his daily minyan, which began at daybreak. After praying, he would study Torah for several hours before dealing with the community’s affairs.

“Today Lakewood lost a giant,” Rabbi Aaron Kotler told Yeshiva World News. “A brilliant, humble, soft-spoken, huge-hearted baal chesed [‘master of kindness’].”

“I think of his office, somewhat messy, with a million things going on, and of Zeev there with total aplomb, dealing with everything in its proper time and place. I think of a man who never said no. And of a man who if you presented the most intractable problem to him would respond as if it were the smallest matter—his brain would immediately begin to churn with ideas and action plans on how to solve it.”

“Now, in the aftermath of coronavirus, we are going to have to rebuild our lives, and first and foremost will be for each of us to step up to the plate a bit more to fill the gap left by his tragic passing,” said Kotler.

He is survived by his wife, Brachi, and their family.

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