Beloved Mill Hill shul volunteer dies at 73 after contracting virus

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Beloved Mill Hill shul volunteer dies at 73 after contracting virus

Tributes paid to Rabbi Stanley Michaels who led the shul's bar mitzvah breakfast club and was 'the voice of many a Shabbat'

Stanley Michaels (Credit: Hartford Michaels Kaye)
Stanley Michaels (Credit: Hartford Michaels Kaye)

Rabbi Stanley Michaels, a “mensch” and beloved pillar of Mill Hill United Synagogue, died at 73 yesterday evening after contracting the coronavirus.

Rabbi Michaels, managing director at an accountancy firm and keen Tottenham Hotspur fan, regularly led services at the shul and organised the synagogue’s bar mitzvah breakfast club. He became over the years “synonymous with Mill Hill Shul”, according to his longtime friend Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet.

I thought I would be all out of tears by now having spent time crying with you on the phone, and then, when you could no longer speak, on my own,” Rabbi Schochet will say in his eulogy speech this afternoon.

The midnight news last night was devastating. Devastating because somehow deep down I always thought you will pull through,” he is expected to say at the funeral service, to be broadcast on Zoom and Facebook Live, this afternoon.

Rabbi Schochet, who knew Michaels for nearly 30 years, will describe the father-of-two as “synonymous with Mill Hill Shul”.

“You are the voice on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur. You are the voice on many a Shabbos. You were the last voice on the last Shabbos before Shul closed. You are the voice in many a bar mitzvah boy’s ear – whether the 500+ that would have attended your bar mitzvah breakfast at the shul on Sunday mornings or the countless other boys whom you taught over the years. To think that your voice will no longer be heard – is just too painful to fathom at the moment,” he will say.

“Devastating also because you are such a mensch. All you ever advocated for was goodness and kindness. All you ever fought for was peace and menchlichkeit. All you ever lived for was communal harmony,” he will add.

Andrew Kaye, of the accountancy firm Hartford Michaels Kaye, paid tribute to his business partner on Friday as someone who “only wanted to help people through everything that he did, whether it was clients from the practice or in his teaching which he loved.”

“He always had time for everybody… So kind, caring and wise. I am totally heartbroken by this tragic loss. Love to Sonia, Alison, Debra, and the family” he added.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis paid tribute, saying: “Like so many others, I was shocked to learn of the passing of Rabbi Stanley Michaels, who contracted the coronavirus. For the past six years, I have davened close to him nearly every morning at the minyan we both attended. I have been inspired by his sincerity, menschlichkeit, humility and spirituality. He will be remembered for his dedication, his beautiful voice, his talent as a teacher and for being a truly lovely person. I extend my heartfelt condolences to his dear family.”

Rabbi Michaels is survived by his wife Sonia and his two daughters Debra and Alison.

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