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Hot-button hits in Sheepshead Bay Assembly primary race

Brooklyn Daily
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The primary battle for Sheepshead Bay’s Assembly seat is descending into an exchange of hot-button insults with the dueling Democrats accusing each other of disrespecting the sabbath and trivializing the Holocaust.

The mud started flying over the weekend, after challenger Ben Akselrod asked a judge to invalidate signatures on Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz’s nominating petition, triggering a flurry of subpoenas to the incumbent’s supporters late in the day on Aug. 8.

Seizing on the fact that the subpoenas went out just hours before the sundown start of Shabbat, Cymbrowitz (D–Sheepshead Bay) accused Akselrod of insensitivity to observant Jews, who make up a large portion of the district encompassing Sheepshead Bay, Midwood, Manhattan Beach, Gravesend, and Brighton Beach.

“To threaten and intimidate the good people of this district is disgraceful enough,” said Cymbrowitz, who has represented the district since 2000, “but for an observant Jew like Ben Akselrod to harass and worry other observant Jews on Shabbat shows how insensitive Ben is to the people of this district and his own community.”

Akselrod said he was in court all day Aug. 7, so the next day was the soonest he could send the subpoenas out. Furthermore, he said that one of the process servers who delivered the documents was an Orthodox Jew he knew would be careful to finish the work before sundown.

“One of the people happened to be an Orthodox Jew,” he said. “Forget about helping me, they would not violate Shabbat.”

Akselrod also played the religion card in the spat, referencing a New York Observer article in which Cymbrowitz invoked the Holocaust to defend his spending of campaign funds at a souvenir shop in Munich.

“As someone who uses the Holocaust to justify his spending at a Munich gift shop, my opponent showed he will stop at nothing to desperately hang on to his position,” said Akselrod.

Akselrod claims that nearly three-quarters of Cymbrowitz’s petition signatures are fake or otherwise unacceptable, and defended his decision to challenge them in court.

“My campaign was forced to seek the assistance of the courts because my opponent’s lack of support in the community necessitated his campaign to resort to submitting predominately fraudulent and invalid signatures,” said Akselrod.

But Cymbrowitz campaign spokesman Austin Finan said the signatures are valid, and accused Akselrod of filing a “frivolous lawsuit” as a last resort to boost his campaign before the Sept. 9 primary.

Tensions between the two have been high before — in the 2012 primary race, Akselrod accused Cymbrowitz of calling his Jewish Council colleagues immoral when the incumbent described himself as, “the only secular Jew in New York City who votes in favor of yeshivas and against immorality.”

Cymbrowitz beat Akselrod in that primary by a scant 244 votes.

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow her
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Reader Feedback

Boris from Sheepshead Bay says:
Good article, but it really needs better editing.
Aug. 13, 2014, 8:05 am
Bella from Sheepshead Bay says:
It was published in JPUpdates that 72% of Cymbrowitz signatures were invalid. Nice? For an incumbent of 14 years? It was also revealed by Observer and Sheepshead Bites that Cymbrowitz has spent campaign money for luxury hotel in Barcelona and gift shop in Munich. For years he was spending money for trips to Turkey and other lavish vacations. What is it? A pattern of lies? A week ago, the same Cymbrowitz offered to remove all trash cans in his district to make it clean instead of advocating for more pick ups? What is it? Negligence? Cymbrowitz promised Ocean residents to deal with the toilet. In exchange he got thousands in donations. What is it? Corruption? As others say, We report, you decide
Aug. 13, 2014, 9:33 am
Bella from Sheepshead Bay says:
Aug. 13, 2014, 9:37 am
Ruben from Brighton says:
BIG NO to bigot Ben Akselron - we will never forget


From Ben Akselrod: I am running for Assembly because I believe the number 1 job of that office is to keep the community safe. The current assemblyman has allowed crime to go up over 50% in our negrohood so far this year. I am fighting for video cameras throughout our community to protect our seniors who are the most vulnerable and cut down on anti-semitic attacks in our community. I will also make sure the mayor gives our community more police to patrol our streets.
Aug. 14, 2014, 10:11 am
Ruben from Brighton says:
Here is some more on that, the man will say and do anything to get elected. But he never will, he cant even speak in public, how could he ever represent us in albany?

check out this link and read the comments
Aug. 14, 2014, 10:13 am
Ruben from Brighton says:
And this here is what Mr Akselrod is most famous for

A word inadvertently coined by Ben Akselrod, candidate for New York State assembly, in a campaign flyer. There was absolutely zero media outrage over this typographical error because Mr. Akselrod had the good fortune to be a Democrat. However, use of the word "Chicago" has been deemed racist by media pundits because it is associated with President Obama, who is partially African-American. Therefore, when examining the phrase "Chicago negrohood", the only offensive word is "Chicago".
"My opponent has allowed crime to go up over 50% in our negrohood."- Ben Akselrod
Aug. 14, 2014, 10:15 am
Susan from Brighton says:
Ari Kagan stop spewing garbage about Steve under your wife's name, it is despicable. You dirty soviet tricks will no longer work here. Neither will your dead club in Davidzon's rear end.
Aug. 14, 2014, 10:20 am
Sarah from Brighton Beach says:
WOW, Mike Geller is now writing under names of Ruben and Susan. What a shame
Aug. 17, 2014, 8:33 pm
Ben from Brighton Beach says:
Yesterday people of our neighborhood spoken through their votes – Congratulation Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, well deserved.
Sept. 10, 2014, 12:30 pm

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