David HaLevi Stern, a beloved longtime Los Angeles-area events videographer, passed away on Wednesday, 23 Tammuz, at the age of 66 after a long illness.
The child of Holocaust survivors from Hungary, Stern was born in Beit Chananya, a moshav outside of Caesarea which his parents helped found after the war.
Stern served in the Israeli Air Force during his military service in the 1970’s, moving to Los Angeles shortly thereafter, where he first met and became close with the late Rabbi Shlomo “Schwartzie” Schwartz. As a videographer, in the 1980’s he began filming frum Jewish events along the West Coast, quickly becoming a fixture at Jewish weddings, bar mitzvahs and dinners. From behind the lens he fell in love with the community and the life he was recording, eventually adopting that lifestyle. Despite times of hardship, he was moser nefesh to give his children the Jewish education he had never received.
For many years Stern was a beloved member of the Chabad of the Valley community in Tarzana, Calif., before moving to Oak Park where he likewise became a regular.
“He was a true Baal Shemske yid,” says Rabbi Yisroel Levine of Chabad of Oak Park. “He had a personality, but when it came to any matters of yiddishkeit he was sincere and totally botul.”
Levine notes that Stern had a two mile walk to shul but was there every week, on time, for Chassidus. He put on tefillin slowly, and davened every single word. “The way it’s supposed to be done,” says Levine. “Like a Chassid.”
His honesty and integrity extended to his dealings with the families and shluchim making the events he was filming, and he was known to extend himself to offer the best possible deal he could. “He could never say no,” recalls Levine.
It was, for him, all one thing.
“There was no fanfare, there was no ego,” says Levine. “For him it was about his relationship with the Aibershter.”
Stern is survived by his children Ayla Stern (Los Angeles); Shirit Gold (Boro Park); and Rayi Stern (Crown Heights) and grandchildren.