Southern Brooklyn

Ahead Of Primary, Akselrod Supporters Target Cymbrowitz’s Interfaith Marriage

Steven Cymbrowitz (l.) and Ben Akselrod (r.)

In the days before today’s face-off between incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz and challenger Ben Akselrod, it appears the campaign has taken a personal turn, with Akselrod supporters turning the assemblyman’s marriage to a non-Jewish woman into a political issue.

The Daily News reports:

Syrian Jews in the 45th district have been swamped with emails slamming Cymbrowitz for breaking Jewish law by marrying Vilma Huertas after his Jewish wife, Lena, died in August 2000 following a long battle with cancer.

“Cymbrowitz does not follow [RELIGIOUS]community values,” one email from BrooklynMessage said.

The supporters are likely tied to challenger Ben Akselrod’s campaign, multiple sources familiar with the race said.

“The campaign is not very conventional,” an Akselrod source said.

“It’s definitely organized,” a Brooklyn political pundit added. “It’s not the average Joe saying they feel very strongly about a particular viewpoint. They use fake email addresses and names to try to get the negative message out.”

The e-mails also point out that Cymbrowitz has not opposed the proposed mosque on Voorhies Avenue, which Akselrod has claimed is tied to a radical organization he incorrectly said was “outlawed” by the United States. Cymbrowitz has not taken a stand for or against the mosque; its location is outside of his district.

Akselrod declined to comment about the e-mails.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” Cymbrowitz told the Daily News. “When a candidate doesn’t have a record to stand on the only thing he can do is be negative.”

Comment policy


  1. What specific Jewish Law? For crying out loud, writing as one Jew, some of the best and most loving marriages in my family, are when we have married Italian American Catholics, which I bet, G-d has no problem with! Nonetheless, we remain faithful Jews. You know, some of these Frum, and insular Syrian Arab Jews, make it up, as they go along!

  2. I think I can safely say, the Akselrod campaign and more importantly their supporters, take the record as the worst in my lifetime. I’ve never seen a campaign as hate-filled and inept as this. Incredible. Absolutely incredible. 

  3. The tactics being used here are just plain deplorable.  He’s appealing to very bigot in his district.  As someone with a Jewish Mother and a Christian Father, I have been a
    victim of similar crap when I ran in 2001.  It’s a sad commentary that this man wants to be a leader in this free society when he is trapped behind ideals that tear down  democrary and equality.

  4. What difference does it make what religion his wife is anyway?  We are not in Israel, where he would  be expected to marry a jew.  I’m just surprised that he didnt marry a Russian – he seems to love Russians.  Akselrod seems to be a real jerk.  He needs to be slapped upside his head, then kicked to the curb.

  5. I can’t vote for this guy. I’m conservative, not crazy. Im voting for the Democrat here. Yeah, I do that sometimes, I ain’t a sheep and I ain’t a blind follower.

  6. We are not voting for or against Cymbrowitz for Sefardic (a nod to the Syrians there) Chief Rabbi of Brooklyn. We are not voting for or against him because of who his wife is..  We are voting for the candidate who best represents us in Albany and not in a Synagogue.. Should people now look at Akselrod’s wife?  Of course not. This campaign got disgusting.  where is Akselrod’s running mate Ari kagan when all this slime came out?  He in fact supports it. They both do. Cymbrowitz and Geller do not embarass us. they are not perfect, but they are not running racist campaigns.

  7.  Hanging out with the non-Jewish wife in the negrohood while collecting money from lobbyists. What a life that would be

  8.  I have had a more than two fliers in my mailbox everyday, since last week from this guy and Ari Kagan. Apparently the two teamed up or something, riding on each other’s coattails. I have gotten so many fliers saying ” Ari Kagan and Ben Akselrod are on the same team” in both English and Russian

  9. Askelrod is currently harassing election workers, wanting to see counts in the middle of the day. Not legal. He got tossed out of PS 254 and was told that he would be smart not to try this elsewhere. But he will.

  10.  LOL. thats because Akselrod is new to this game.

    Don’t worry Cymbrowitz probably has some key election election officials on speed dial hooking him up 😉

    not taking sides. but making Cymbrowitz sound like he’s your innocent hero lifesaving Messiah has to stop.

  11. What does Cymbrowitz’ marriage have to do with his ability to govern and what business is it of anyone’s to question how he worships? Do the people questioning this know for a fact that his wife has not embraced the Jewish faith? If she didn’t, then why did she marry him? I am Catholic and my wife is Jewish and those differences were discussed BEFORE we got married, not later on. Any mixed couple, be they mixed for race, religion or any other reason, will also resolve any differences before marriage. When people can’t find substantiated reasons to oppose a candidate, they reach for anything they can, like turning non-issues into issues.

  12. When I was young I always felt (rather naively) that all prejudice, racism, xenophobia etc. would end if the entire world eventually intermarried with everyone else.

    But, as someone pointed out to me recently when I brought this up, there’ll probably ALWAYS have to have someone/thing to blame…space aliens, for example.

    Nearly 40 years ago, in Sheepshead Bay High School, the Social Studies teacher touched on this point as well -u & it’s stayed with me all these years.

    He said, “What this planet needs is a massive invasion from Mars!”, meaning that since the Martians would view us all as one group (Earthlings), we’d have no CHOICE but to unite as one people to combat a common enemy.

    But I clearly remember skeptically thinking how, whoever the Martians spoke to first, would tell them, “It’s not us you want – it’s the ******, who live over in *****! Come, I’ll show you!”

    I think that, sadly, is closer to reality.

  13. Congratulations to Steve Cymbrowitz who deserved to win.  So glad Akselrod lost. Akselrod, you are a blatant liar and a BIG LOSER.  We don’t want you or need

  14. I’m conservative but sometimes I vote for the Democrat, too. Case in point: My Assembly member is Helene Weinstein, and her opponent is Joseph Hayon, the guy who ran against Cymbrowitz in 2010. Quite frankly, the man has a crazy look in his eye, and he’s a bigot with a frightening agenda. For me it’s a no-brainer.

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