(JTA) — Over the past 35 years, Rabbi Stanley Michaels taught hundreds of boys how to put on tefillin.
Michaels was an integral part of life at London’s Mill Hill Synagogue, where he organized Sunday morning breakfasts in honor of the synagogue’s bar mitzvah celebrants. He was renowned for his singing voice, which would fill the synagogue on Shabbat and holidays. Indeed, his was the last voice congregants at Mill Hill heard before the synagogue closed at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak that would claim Michaels’ life.
Michaels died on April 23 of COVID-19 at the age of 73.
The synagogue’s rabbi, Yitzchak Schochet, recalled in his eulogy the last time he saw Michaels, someone he knew for more than 26 years. It was late in the afternoon of March 10, the Jewish holiday of Purim, and Michaels had shown up at his door with a food basket.
To Schochet, Michaels already appeared tired and unwell. Nonetheless, he blessed Shochet and his family with good health. “He only ever cared for other people to be well,” said Shochet.
Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, who prayed with Michaels nearly every morning for the past six years, said he had been inspired by his “sincerity, menschlichkeit, humility, and spirituality.”
By day, Michaels was the managing director of the accounting firm Harford Michaels Kaye, where he specialized in business consulting and tax planning. In his free time, he was a passionate supporter of Tottenham Hotspur football club.
He is survived by his wife, Sonia, and his two daughters, Debra and Alison.