By Michele Justic
A popular figure among the Long Beach crowds and the halls of the New York State Assembly, Harvey Weisenberg has announced that he will not seek reelection in the fall. The 80-year-old Democrat, representing District 20, has served 12 terms as assemblyman.
His distinguished career included heavy support for the special needs community, partially inspired by his son Ricky, who has cerebral palsy. Recently, he used some of his personal experiences to bring the Assembly to a unanimous vote on a bill which gave cost-of-living raises to 100,000 workers at six state-agency-funded nonprofits that serve the special needs, elderly, mentally ill, and others. Weisenberg is also known for passing Jonathan’s Law, which notifies families when reports of abuse are made at a mental health facility where their children are receiving care. Weisenberg’s support was also instrumental in opening Angela’s House, Long Island’s first residential facility for medically frail children. In all, the assemblyman has secured passage of 300 bills in his 25 years of office. In 2003, he was named as assistant speaker pro tempore, serving as a substitute for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
While Weisenberg stated earlier this week that he’d like to devote more time to his wife and son, the debate about who will succeed him has heated up. The district stretches from Long Beach Island to Point Lookout, including Atlantic Beach, the Five Towns, Oceanside, and Island Park. The area includes 39,529 registered Democrats, 31,748 Republicans, more than 20,000 unaffiliated voters, and over 4,000 third-party members. There has been speculation of Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Kaminsky, Long Beach City Councilman Anthony Eramo, and county Legis. Denise Ford, along with Lawrence School Board member and former president Asher Mansdorf, running for the seat.
Mansdorf is well known in the Five Towns community for revamping public school policies to be friendlier towards the private school community, as well as more financially sound for the overall district’s benefit. Lawrence Village Trustee and host of the popular SpinClass radio show, Michael Fragin, noted, “Asher has a strong record in public service and the Five Towns community and the district at large would benefit if he chooses to run.”
Lloyd Keilson, a trustee at Achiezer and chairman of the Lawrence zoning appeals board, confirms, “Dr. Asher Mansdorf has served our community with distinction for nearly two decades on the local school board. Asher has shown unique leadership capabilities and has kept the interests of the entire broad community in the forefront. Asher’s visionary ideas, progressive attitude, and indefatigable spirit would be very impactful in an assemblyman’s role. I personally would support the candidacy of Dr. Asher Mansdorf.”
Don’t expect Weisenberg to walk off into the sunset though. The former Long Beach city councilman, police officer, teacher, and school administrator has stated he will remain a lifeguard. His constituents in District 20 thank him for his years of service and wish him a happy retirement and sunny days on the beach. v
Yom HaShoah At HAFTR
Fourth- and fifth-grade students in HAFTR Lower School gathered for a heartwarming assembly to commemorate Yom HaShoah. Ms. Joy Hammer, principal, inspired students with retelling her experience visiting concentration camps and her reaction when she encountered Holocaust-deniers.
Under the guidance of teachers Mrs. Lisa Rosenberg and Mrs. Janet Goldman, fifth-grade students beautifully performed the story of Patricia Polacco’s The Butterfly.
HAFTR parent Mrs. Tahra Mastour told the story of her grandmother who is a Holocaust survivor and resides in Florida. She spoke about how her grandmother survived the war as a governess for a Nazi family. She also impressed upon her young audience the Torah’s mitzvah of “zachor” as an active, not passive one, and one which children can accomplish.
The school was honored to have three generations–Mrs. Mastour; her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Kerman; and the Mastour children–light candles in memory of the six million kedoshim. Everyone recited Tehillim, fourth-grade students sang “V’hi She’amdah,” and the audience ended with the “Hatikva” and “Ani Maamin.” v