This is to recognize John Maura, in particular, but to also acknowledge his brother, Ronnie, who represents the heart and spirit of Maura Brothers. On Dec. 21, Rabbi Shalom M. Paltiel, director of Chabad of Port Washington, lit the "Maura Candle" at the LIRR station. That is what the Rabbi called the Menorah candle at the Nov. 23, 2008 feast at the Chateau Briand in Carle Place. The annual celebration was in honor of John Maura Jr., a very deserving member of the John Michael Marino Lodge of the Order Sons of Italy in America. This was the 83rd celebration of the fraternal order and John was presented with a bronze figure of a lion, symbol of Figli D'Italia, meaning sons and daughters of Italy.

Before I get ahead of myself, I must recognize that the Dec. 21 candle lighting ceremony by Rabbi Paltiel was dedicated to Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, who were killed in the Mumbai terrorist attack. We offer our sympathy to the family of this young courageous couple who chose to leave Brooklyn to serve God in India.

John Maura Jr. became a very active member of the Port Washington community soon after he became president of Maura Brothers upon his father's retirement in 1976. He married Gina Schaefer and in short order became the father of four children, two boys and two girls. I got to know him mostly from mutual friends soon after he became actively involved with the Sons of Italy in the mid-1990s. All of the people I spoke to about John had positive remarks to make about his generosity and, especially, his dedication to family, a very typical trait of first and second generation Italians. John's family originated from Ceccano, about 45 minutes drive south of Rome. People from my town, in Abruzzo, used to call it Terra del Lavoro, meaning land of work. It is not surprising that there are many Ceccanese in Port Washington and Manhasset; for example: DiStefano, Ciotoli, Tanzini, Teberia, Tomassi, De Santis, Ardovini and Strangolagalli to name a few. They still remain attached to Ceccano by having frequent gatherings. They even arranged for John to get a congratulatory letter from the mayor of Ceccano.

A second great trait expressed by John is his fairness to his customers and his generosity of heart, just ask Rabbi Paltiel. I, personally, witnessed his genuine concern for my neighbor, Anthony Picardi and retired employee of John's father. John was hired by the Picardis to build a driveway to avoid a common driveway the Picardis shared with a neighbor. During the process, John showed great concern for Tony, whose health was deteriorating. John also serves at St. Peter of Alcantara Church as an usher at its Saturday, 5 p.m. Mass.

On many occasions John and his brother, Ronnie, have assisted local governments by providing equipment and labor support in emergency situations. That is what they provided to Rabbi Paltiel when he needed a bucket truck to light the 12-foot menorah at the Port Washington LIRR train station and this is why I have come to respect and love these two people over the many years of knowing them. They are simply great to know.

Leo Cimini

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