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January 6, 2015 4:02 pm

Mario Cuomo Was a True Friend to Many, Including the Jewish People

avatar by Ezra Friedlander

Mario Cuomo died at the age of 82. Photo: David Berkowitz via Wikimedia Commons.

The term “true friend ” is used so often that it’s a cliché – but when used in the context of the late Mario Cuomo, it’s totally appropriate.

As we mourn the passing of Governor Cuomo, I find myself going down memory lane. Growing up, still as a yeshiva student -before I officially entered the profession of public relations, I developed a rather strong interest in public affairs and the political process.

During that time period, Governor Cuomo enjoyed a remarkably warm and close relationship with our community: the Jewish community. In many ways, it was a relationship that wasn’t too difficult to understand. Mario Cuomo was someone who understood both the needs of the Jewish community on a practical level, but also on an emotional one. He grew up among Jews but also experienced discrimination as an Italian-American when embarking on his legal career – so relating to Jews who suffered anti-Semitism came naturally to him.

During his years in public service and as governor, the Jewish community always found a receptive ear in Mario Cuomo.

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I remember how Governor Cuomo used to nostalgically recall his days as a young man growing up in a Jewish neighborhood, “helping Jews observe the Sabbath, fondly referring to [himself] as the Shabbos Goy.”

In truth, Mario Cuomo was a man of faith who understood with every fiber of his body the accommodations that government has to provide to communities of faith – including the Jewish community.

As we celebrate his life, we remember that the vibrant Jewish community that resides in New York is eternally grateful to Governor Cuomo for extending his hand in friendship so many years ago. It is not forgotten.

We extend our condolences to Mrs. Cuomo and the entire Cuomo family  – most notably his son, Governor Andrew Cuomo, who continues that remarkable friendship with the Jewish community.

Ezra Friedlander is the CEO of The Friedlander Group a NYC and Washington DC based public policy consulting group. Visit Follow him on Twitter: @EzraFriedlander

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