U.S. District Judge I. Leo Glasser of the Eastern District of New York

There’s a Yiddish word, kvell. It describes a mother’s pride at her child’s wedding. Kvell describes a father’s face as he holds his child for the first time.

It’s the perfect word to describe the look of admiration that a mentor from the Lower East Side has when one of his students, a son of Ireland, does well.

And this week, U.S. District Judge I. Leo Glasser of the Eastern District of New York was kvelling as chief deputy U.S. Marshal Bryan Mullee held his right hand in the air and became Bryan Mullee, acting U.S. marshal for the Eastern District of New York.

The ceremony was held in a 14th floor room that afforded the judge views of the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. All of those bridges easily bring him back to his childhood at 40 Montgomery St. on the Lower East Side.

“Growing up on the Lower East Side, you developed a sense of hardworking families, with families being the operative word,” said Glasser, 93, during a recent talk in his office.

It was there that Glasser had his first taste of the law, learning Robert’s Rules of Order in a settlement house club with a group of 13-year-olds.

His earliest jobs centered around life on the Lower East Side. Washing medicine bottles at a corner drug store, sneaking past elevator starters to run up 20 or 30 flights to deliver flyers for a watch repair stand.

He sold newspapers on a street corner, calling out, “Here ya are, get your Daily Mirror,” a job that lasted only until his mother found out.

His mother was a bit happier when he became a 17-year-old copy boy at the Journal-American newspaper. After two years, Glasser said, “I rose to the exalted title of junior editor. “It wasn’t a career,” said the judge. “I just had a job.”

Glasser served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946 as an aid to a captain, helping to run the company and functioning as the official translator although he spoke more Yiddish than German.

His unit pushed through France and into Germany and arrived at Dachau concentration camp two weeks after the liberation.  “It was a painful experience, looking at the crematorium, the horrible barracks, the barbed wire,” said Glasser.

After the war, Glasser returned to New York and to Brooklyn Law on the GI Bill. “I was fortunate to come back alive. Now I had the luxury of going to school when the sun was shining,” rather than his undergrad classes at night, he said.

A one-year teaching fellowship at his alma mater, Brooklyn Law, turned into two, and then many more years of teaching, from 1948 through 1969. He was the dean of Brooklyn Law School from 1977 to 1981. President Ronald Reagan nominated Glasser for the federal bench on Nov. 23, 1981.

In between, Glasser sat as a New York state Family Court judge from 1969 to 1977.  “If a court is to be measured by the impact it has on people’s life, the Family Court is the most important court that one can possibly imagine,” he said. Glasser calls Family Court “the social emergency room.”

Glasser recalls his interview for the judicial position. “They asked me, ‘What makes you think you’d be a good judge,’” he said. “I told them ‘I don’t have the vaguest idea but I know I’d be a good one.’”

Now, 36 years later, Marshal Mullee remembers how their lives became intertwined. As a rookie marshal with just one year on the job, Mullee contemplated attending law school at night. Brooklyn Law, in fact.

It was something Glasser could relate to.

“Knowing that Judge Glasser had been the dean of Brooklyn Law School, I tried to muster the courage to speak with him,” said Mullee.

The judge was very busy in 1992, presiding over the John Gotti trial, but Mullee said, “He told me that he would be happy to write me a letter of recommendation, which he did, but he did so much more.”

There were face-to-face meetings, phone calls, random elevator chats between the young marshal and his judicial mentor.

“The support offered by the judge turned my contemplation into resolve,” Mullee said. “No matter how daunting the challenge of balancing a career, law school and a burgeoning relationship with my future wife, I was always cognizant of the personal investment made by Judge Glasser and I resolved not to let him down. Quitting or failure was never an option” he added.

In September 1992, Mullee entered Brooklyn Law, an experience, he said, “proved to be profound in the path my life would take.”

Law school “opened me to different worldviews, it introduced me to people I would not otherwise have met, and it set me apart in my career as well,“ Mullee said.

So, this week when Mullee was named acting U.S. marshal, “I asked Judge Glasser to administer my oath, to thank him for what he did for me but more so to honor him.”

Wearing his traditional bow tie, Glasser kvelled as he handed a gold marshal’s shield to the shy young man who entered the courthouse on Cadman Plaza 27 years earlier. The room was filled with Mullee’s wife and kids, in-laws, parents and other family members.

Glasser brought a bunch of judges with him for the ceremony, and then shared cake and conversation with U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein of the Eastern District of New York and U.S. District Chief Judge Dora Irizarry of the Eastern District of New York.

Afterwards, Glasser returned to his ninth floor chambers, where a framed copy of his 1981 presidential appointment as a judge hangs just below a framed copy of his grandfather’s citizenship papers, issued in the Eastern District of New York in 1906.

Judge Glasser looks at Bryan Mullee, right, after swearing him in as U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District at a ceremony at the courthouse on Cadman Plaza on Dec. 19.