The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle reports the death of the city’s mayor, Bob O’Connor:
…While thousands of city residents regarded O’Connor as a personal friend, to the Jewish community, he was more like family.
“He was truly one of us,” said former city magistrate [and uncle of blogger and historian Menachem Butler] Daniel Butler of Squirrel Hill. “He wanted to be part of us. He wanted to help us.”
Having a Jewish wife, Judy, provided O’Connor with a real family connection to the Jewish community, especially to the Lubavitch community and Yeshiva Schools, of which O’Connor’s sister- and brother-in-law, Dee-Dee and Jacob Pelled, are active members. But his ties to the whole community were vast and deep.
“He was at virtually every major event of the Jewish community,” said Barbara Burstin, chair of the United Jewish Federation. “By his presence we always felt that he cared. That spirit will sorely be missed.”
O’Connor attended Jewish community events so regularly that his presence came to be expected.…
On Saturday mornings, O’Connor often stopped by the Lubavitch Center at the conclusion of services to socialize with congregants and spend time with the children, whom he loved. After winning the mayoral election, O’Connor sponsored a kiddush at the Center.…
When Butler’s son Mikey died in 2004, O’Connor attended the funeral at Congregation Poale Zedeck on a snowy January day. After the funeral, the bad weather and traffic from a school dismissal created a treacherous traffic jam on Shady Avenue, complicating the procession to the cemetery. O’Connor stepped out into the middle of the street and began directing traffic.
“He was for real,” said Butler. “He loved people, he cared about people. He made Pittsburgh a better place by dint of his personality and decency. We all had high hopes for what he would do for the city.”
The story also quotes Bill Rudolph, a pillar of the Pittsburgh Jewish community and, if memory serves, a pretty decent harmonica player.