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The Builder

Shimon Breitkopf, Yair Wasserman, and Aharon Rubin

Reb Yehuda Paley, though known for his acts of chesed, his sharp business acumen, his extensive communal activities, his connections with gedolei yisrael, and his vast influence on important events both in chareidi society and in the country in general, never took himself too seriously. There was always that joke, that self-deprecating smile and mischievous wit that was intertwined with the talent that made up his exceptional character.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

paleyThe levayah took just nine minutes, and some of the men were already in their Kol Nidrei kittels. It was just a few minutes before shkiah on Erev Yom Kippur, so there was virtually no shivah either. And then, just a few days of shloshim, interrupted by the Festival of Joy. It was the way Reb Yehudah “Yudke” Paley would have wanted it. No fuss, no eulogies, no memorials — just getting on with the music, the simchah of life.

Reb Yudke Paley was one of those larger than life personalities that helped chisel the current face of Jerusalem, one of the prime movers of the Israeli yeshivah world as we know it, one of the bulwarks of chesed that held up so many of the down-and-out of the last half-century, and was a single-handed social services department — yet much of his contribution to the current face of Israel was cloaked in his playful wink, his mischievous smile that hinted to great things never revealed.

“If Abba had been allowed to choose how the period after his death would appear, this is exactly what he would have wanted,” said his son Eli Paley, Mishpacha’s publisher. “He left the world in exactly the same way he had lived — away from publicity, from honor, from masses of people expressing their gratitude. It happened with an other-worldly swiftness, without any hespedim, without a shivah. That was just like Abba, one minute he was here, and the next he was there, without making a big deal out of it or drawing attention.”


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