NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Saturday night touted his respect and admiration for the Orthodox Jewish community in New York City as he faces a barrage of negative coverage amid questions about investigations that involve some Orthodox Jewish donors and supporters.
“I think a good news story is that this City Hall respects the community deeply and the door is always open,” De Blasio said during an interview on “Community Matters,” a Saturday night radio program with Leon Goldenberg. “I have an inherent respect for the community because I had the honor when I started my public life as an elected official representing the community and really seeing it from the grassroots.”
Last month, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and the FBI opened an inquiry into the fundraising activities of two Brooklyn-based businessmen – Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz – on behalf of de Blasio. The federal probe was launched as part of a massive corruption case at the New York Police Department that involves the two businessmen, who were listed as members of the mayor’s inaugural committee. A recent report also looked into the mayor’s role in a scandal surrounding a nursing home on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, in which the Department of Citywide Administrative Services allowed a Hasidic businessman to clear millions by selling the facility to a condo developer.
“A few bad apples do not define the community,” de Blasio rushed to defend the Orthodox Jewish community. “It’s really not fair — if there are a few bad apples, it’s not fair to paint the whole community with a broad brush. Sometimes it seems some people go out of their way to indicate someone’s background.”
“The many good works, the incredible amount of charity, that is an everyday reality in the Orthodox Jewish community. I have seen it firsthand,” he said. “And there’s a lot of good-hearted New Yorkers who have never seen it and they don’t understand the extraordinary contributions this community makes to the city, and how much this community does to help everyone else too. I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding. I’d love to see more stories about the many people in the Jewish community who do good and righteous things every single day. But, as you know, good news doesn’t travel very far.”
During the interview, de Blasio pointed to several initiatives and policies that he has implemented in the first two years of his mayoralty, a result of relationships he has developed over the years and the need to treat every community equally.
In the 2013 mayoral election, de Blasio became the first Democratic mayoral candidate since Ed Koch to win a majority of the Jewish voters. besting his Republican challenger among Jewish voters by 53-44 percent, according to exit polling. In Borough Park, the largest gathering of Orthodox Jewish voters, who tend to support Republican candidates in general elections, de Blasio got 46 of the vote.