A native New Yorker and an observant Jew, Justice Noach Dear passed away on April 19 after a protracted battle with COVID-19.

He was born on Nov. 20, 1953, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Sidney and Joan Dear.

He attended Yeshiva Torah Vodaath in his childhood. As a young boy, he also sang in Chassidic musician Eli Lipsker’s Pirchei Agudath Israel Choir, a pioneering group in Jewish music, singing in their 1966 album “Pirchei Sings Elecha Hashem Ekrah” (“To You, O Lord, I would call”).

Dear earned a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College, a master’s degree in social work from Yeshiva University and a Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School.

He began his lifetime career as a public servant as a district leader and district manager of Brooklyn’s Community Board 12. In 1983, he was elected a New York City council member, a position he would hold until 2001.

During that time, he would frequently visit Chabad headquarters in Brooklyn seeking the advice and blessing of the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. In 1987, Dear had a 25-minute discussion with the Rebbe behind closed doors, a rarity in those years when the Rebbe no longer conducted private audiences.

Dear was a strong supporter of many Jewish causes, notably the Soviet Jewry movement, current Jewish life in Russia and Ukraine, and Israel.

In 2008, he was elected as a civil-court judge. Two years later, in 2010, he became acting state supreme court justice; in 2015, he was elected as a permanent justice on New York’s supreme court for a 15-year term.

On the bench, Dear was a fierce advocate for racial equality and gained a reputation as a judge who stood up against harassment from debt collectors, working with both parties to set up fair payment plans.

He is survived by his wife, Rickly (Neiman) Dear, and their four daughters: Rivka, Adina, Chaviva and Aliza.

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