Mailbag: Taking Issue With Backroom Deals Regarding ‘5 Towns Political Missteps’


Dear Editor,

Firstly, I would like to express my appreciation for the incredible service that you provide. I am an avid reader of The Yeshiva World News and greatly enjoy both the website and the newspaper. One of my favorite features is the weekly “Backroom Deals” column. As someone who works in the political world, I greatly enjoy reading Dov Gordon’s perspective of what’s going on “behind the scenes” in the political arena.

With that said, I have to take issue with one of the items in last week’s “Backroom Deals” column. In the piece entitled “Five-Towns Suffers Because of Political Missteps”, an argument is made that Dr. Asher Mansdorf’s political endorsement of a candidate resulted in the Five-Towns being denied immediate services in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

I beg to differ with that assessment. As a resident of Cedarhurst, one of the Five Towns, I can personally attest to Dr. Mansdorf’s advocacy and leadership during the aftermath of the storm. As he has done for the past 20+ years, Dr. Mansdorf was working hard on behalf of the community and was working through the night of the storm on behalf of the residents of the Five Towns.

While the election for Assembly was a complex one that raised many different issues, it was very refreshing that although the candidate that he supported did not emerge victorious, Dr. Mansdorf was still able to work effectively and cooperatively with the current Assemblyman, Harvey Weisenberg, to make sure that the Five Towns received as much assistance as possible after the storm. That is as a credit to the respect that all elected officials have for Dr. Mansdorf.

There was a tremendous failure of resources and support for the residents of the Five Towns, and most of Nassau County for that matter, and many different people and agencies should be held culpable for that collapse especially LIPA. Dr. Asher Mansdorf though, should not be among them. Dr. Mansdorf devotes thousands of hours in his voluntary capacity as the President of our School-Board for one reason – to benefit the klal. We’re lucky to have Dr. Mansdorf as an askan and we are grateful for his service to the community.

All the best,

Jeff Leb.

Jeff Leb is a political strategist and community activist who serves as the Director of Political Affairs for the OU-Teach NYS Initiative – an organization whose sole purpose is to fight for the needs of private school parents. Jeff is the co-founder of the JCC of Marine Park, Brooklyn and also acts as the Treasurer of the Peninsula Library Board in the Five Towns and is a staunch advocate for the needs of the Jewish community.

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.


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  1. Just curious Mr. Lebb,

    If you are going to bring to the public the issue of assistance to those who suffered from the storm, how about someone share with the public what is happening with the millions of dollars raised after the storm. First of all where is it? Was it all given out to those in need or are the funds still sitting somewhere undecided where it should go? Did the politics you speak of fall into this area as well? I have friends in Bayswater that received a few thousand dollrs so far. Where is the millions that was raised?

    Your community is from the wealthiest Jewish communities in the world yet for some reason there were fund raisers in Lakewood asking for money from yeshivalite to support those who suffered losses in the 5 Towns. I can only hope that the Mida kneged Mida will be that when Lakewood comes to the 5 Towns your community will return the favor. That means just like they turned out in the hundreds in Lakewood to help you and gave from the little they have it would mean that the 5 towns should turn out in the hundreds and give proportionately from what they have.

    Let’s forget the politics and just help the people. That is what Dr. Mansdorf did now as an activist in your community I hope you will do the same.

  2. I just want to echo Mr. Leb’s comments about Dr. Mansdorf. He is a true leader who cares for all members of the community. He has spent countless hours and has used all his resources to help the entire community. Whether is was picking up shaimos, delivering food or meeting with governmental agencies Asher didn’t just talk he DID.
    He is well respected both within the Jewish community and within the non-Jewish community. It was because of this respect that the Jewish community was able to access resources that were not initially available to us. It was beacuse of him that many people got food for Shabbos at the last minute.Instead of bashing Dr. Mansdorf we owe him a great deal of thanks for all he has done for us.

  3. Harvey Weisenberg ignored the Five Towns long before David Sussman challenged him, or Superstorm Sandy hit. His utter failure to advocate for the Five Towns was business as usual, not an election cycle calculation.

    FYI, 26 estates, the Five Towns raises fortunes of money for Lakewood. Every year, Roshei Yeshiva from Lakewood spend Shabbos here, and go home with full pockets. Meshulachim from the world over come here to collect; just look at all the parlor meetings advertised in the local rags on any given week.

    But with at least a third of the Five Towns sustaining damage in the storm, and more in the Rockaways and Bayswater, even a wealthy community like ours needs to go outside, painful though it is for us to do that. I think the term you are looking for is not Mida k’neged mida next time Lakewood comes knocking, but Hakoras Hatov for all the times in the past the Five Towns has opened their wallets.

  4. Very hard sitting here in the 5Towns to read the comment above from 26 Estates- has he visited here and seen for himself the damage here. Does he know personally the great amount of Tzedaka that always has and will IYH continue to emanate from here. While it is always legitimate to question where Kehilshe money is spent, there is a way to do that and a way to speak. Call up Achiezer or the other legitimate organizations that have been working so hard for the klal, and ask, and I’m sure they will tell you. Don’t write vaguely accusatory motiz shem ra in comment sections of YWN.
    I trust that 26 Estates does not speak for the majority of people who have generously given tzedaka and support to fellow yidden who were hurt by the storm. The Tzedaka from this area given to mosdos in Lakewood and many other places is a historical fact, but was never given with a thought to receiving payback (mida keneged mida as he puts it). Thats’s not the way to give Tzedaka. 26 Estates, if you don’t want to help people, then don’t. Furthermore the money being raised is for people, families and mosdos damaged in the entire area, including many less affluent areas and many people who do not make a lot of money including klei kodesh. To be sure there are some families who took a hit in this storm but who B”H have the wherewithall, whether insurance or otherwise to absorb the loss – It is not “wealthy” people who are being helped, and the wealthy and not so wealthy people in the area have been and continue to be extraordinarily generous with money, time, services etc. But many baalei tzedaka must pay for there own additional costs and deal with their own family issues, and when a single area with so many yidden takes such a large hit, the loss simply cannot be carried without the help of the broader community. We are all looking forward warmly with open hearts and open wallets BE”H to continuing to assist other communities and causes in the future and I”YH we will all be zocheh to do so -not as “midda keneged midda” which is simply not the reason why people give, but because that is what people here (and everywhere else in the Klal including Lakewood as they have evidenced) do- we are one community. Don’t cheapen the generosity of Lakewood and other communities, or the historical generosity of this community.