Honoring Paul Hovitz
Building schools. Fighting for affordable housing. Championing local cultural institutions. For more than 30 years, Paul Hovitz has served his Lower Manhattan community—so much so that many locals call him the mayor of the neighborhood. This holiday season, Paul was honored at the Seaport Chanukah Celebration on December 18, in recognition of his tireless service.
For the past several years, the Howard Hughes Corporation has partnered with the Jewish Learning Center and Chabad Wall Street to celebrate Chanukah with the traditional lighting of the Menorah. This year’s celebration, led by Rabbi Nissi Eber, saw the debut of a 15-foot nautical-themed Menorah designed by conceptual artist Yitzchok Moully, which was dedicated to Paul.
A retired special education teacher of 35 years, Paul has devoted his life to serving the community he loves—his home of Southbridge Towers, Lower Manhattan, and New York City. He has served as a community advisor on the Board of New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital; a civilian first responder on September 11, 2001; and as the chair of the Youth Committee of Manhattan Community Board 1, a role in which he spearheaded the development of nine new schools and helped to fundraise millions of dollars for each of them.
Paul and his wife Denise continue to call Lower Manhattan home. Here, he shares what makes the neighborhood so special.
What initially drew you to Lower Manhattan?
I married into downtown. I met my wife on a blind date and the rest is history.
Obviously, the neighborhood has evolved over the years. What are some of the things that, in your eyes, have stayed the same?
The need for ancillary programs, school seats, and the highest quality of education has been the mark of our downtown schools.
You’ve spearheaded many initiatives to support the residents of Lower Manhattan. Of this impressive history of civic leadership, what are your proudest achievements?
We turned lemons into lemonade by raising $17M after 9/11 to create Millennium HS. However, each of the nine schools we’ve helped into being is what we are most proud of.
What are the most important values for maintaining a strong local community?
Community involvement is the most important. Working with our elected officials and engaging the media has always been our avenue to success.
What are some of your favorite local spots in the Seaport?
Pier 17 and the South Street Seaport Museum.
What would you say to young people about the benefits of getting involved in civic activism and advocacy?
You get what you put in.
You’re being honored for your advocacy for Lower Manhattan at the Seaport’s annual Menorah Lighting this year. What does this recognition mean to you?
This is a high honor. In this life you get by giving. We don’t do this for recognition but it is a lovely tribute.
Please join us as we honor Paul and celebrate the Festival of Lights at the Seaport Chanukah Celebration this Sunday, December 18, from 2:30pm.