After serving as governor from 2007 to 2015, Patrick worked as a managing director at Bain Capital — the investment firm formerly headed by Sen. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate in 2012. Patrick, 63, also served as assistant attorney general for civil rights in the Clinton administration.
Patrick, the first African-American governor in Massachusetts, implemented the health care reform in his state that Romney, his gubernatorial predecessor, had enacted, and worked to improve the state’s education system.
He also built ties between different faith and ethnic communities, and forged a close relationship with his state’s Jewish community.
Jeremy Burton, the executive director of Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council, recalled the ease with which Patrick would participate in Jewish events.
“He considered himself at home when he was in a Jewish space, and the Jewish community considered him to be part of it,” Burton told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Thursday.
Here are some of the highlights of Patrick’s interactions with the Jewish community.
A rabbi gave the benediction at his inauguration.
Patrick first met Rabbi Jonah Pesner when he was exploring a run for governor. Pesner, who now serves as the director of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, was involved at the time with interfaith work in Boston. The two grew so close that Patrick asked the rabbi to deliver the benediction at his inauguration as governor in 2007.
“He was able to uniquely give a speech that told the story of the importance of Jewish leadership inside and through our work in civil rights and social justice in America and across the world,” recalled Pesner, who before heading the RAC was rabbi of Temple Israel in Boston.
He has received several Jewish awards.
In 2009, Patrick received an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa for, according to the school, his leadership and contribution to social equality, protection of religious freedom and civil rights, and promoting friendship with Israel. The previous year, he had signed a $1 billion law to promote research and business with the Jewish state.
He led two economic development missions to Israel.
In 2011, Patrick led a trade mission to Israel with local business leaders, including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. During the trip he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, then-President Shimon Peres and other Israeli politicians.
He invoked Jewish refugees in offering to host refugee children.
In 2014, an influx of women and unaccompanied children from Central America were seeking asylum in the U.S. Talking to a reporter at the time, Patrick cited the experiences of Jews during the Holocaust in arguing for why Massachusetts should host refugee children.
“My inclination is to remember what happened when a shipful of Jewish children tried to come to the United States in 1939 and the United States turned them away, and many of them went to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps,” Patrick said. “I think we are a bigger-hearted people than that as Americans, and certainly as residents of Massachusetts.”