Op-ed: Farewell, good friend: Shalom Chaver Paul Vallone

Credit: New York City Council
Credit: New York City Council

The immortal words of President Bill Clinton at the funeral of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin: “Goodbye, my friend.”

I am still in a state of shock after hearing the tragic news of the untimely passing of my dear friend Paul Vallone. My heart goes out to his illustrious family – may the Almighty bring them comfort. What an unlikely pair: Paul, a devout Catholic and proud NYC Democrat, and a hasidic rabbi.

I was privileged to be considered by Paul to be his brother and rabbi. We shared a very deep affection and bond, something that I will always treasure. Paul attended our Bible class on occasion — what an honor.

Paul was a very unique elected official. He was someone who had the uncanny ability to reach out and connect with all people, whether they were members of his political party or not. With his super genuine smile and warm and embracing personality, he was able to win everyone over to his side.

Perhaps, his success in government was precisely because it was supremely clear that Paul’s priority was doing what was right for the people and the community, not what was politically expedient.

With his charm and focus, he was able to create the biggest Holiday parade and concert on Bell Boulevard, as well as the massive July 4 celebration at Fort Totten, which attracted thousands of participants from all over the city.

He was very devoted to his faith. I recall a conversation we had where he was grappling to reconcile legislation with his religious beliefs. He was a family man of the highest order. His love and devotion to his family — parents, wife and children — was an inspiration.

He will be remembered with great love as one of the good ones.

Paul, we will miss you!

“Shalom, Chaver”

Your brother and Rabbi Yossi Blesofsky