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entries tagged with: Wildes & Weinberg


Terror victim’s widow mired in immigration battle

The Israeli widow of a rabbi murdered during the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai is locked in a fight with U.S. immigration officials who may block her from visiting her eight children here.

Michael Wildes, a partner in the New York firm Wildes & Weinberg and former mayor of Englewood, said Frumet Teitelbaum came to his office two weeks ago in tears. The eight children she had with her late husband, Brooklyn-born Rabbi Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum, are staying with the rabbi’s family in Brooklyn while attending school. Frumet Teitelbaum had been using a tourist visa to regularly travel between her home in Israel and New York to see her children, whose ages range from 2 to 14.

Until two months ago.

Michael Wildes is representing Frumet Teitelbaum, widow of Rabbi Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum, who was killed in the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Teitelbaum had been shuttling between her home in Israel and New York to see her children when customs officials restricted her visa.

When Teitelbaum flew into John F. Kennedy Airport on Feb. 2, customs officials cited her for overuse of her tourist visa, according to Wildes. An agent marked Teitelbaum’s visa, Wildes said, so that she could not extend her stay or apply for permanent residence.

“This is contrary to the law and humanity, frankly,” Wildes said. “He should have encouraged her to apply for a green card rather than use a visa.”

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official declined comment, citing ICE’s privacy policy.

“She presented herself as a widow of a U.S. citizen who was gunned down by terrorists and [the customs official] purposely took this action,” Wildes said. “I would hope it has nothing to do with the way she physically appeared or any other preconceived intent, but rather an over-exuberant officer.”

Teitelbaum’s visa is set to expire this month. Wildes told The Jewish Standard last week that he expects to have her residency application completed this week and he hopes to have a green card for Teitelbaum within seven months. He said he would make use of a law enacted in response to the Sept. 11 attacks that grants families of terror victims the right to residency.

Teitelbaum will be permitted to remain in the United States after her visa expires while the process continues, he said.

Ari Felberman, head of government relations in the predominantly Satmar Village of Kiryas Joel in Monroe, N.Y., wrote to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in February asking him to intervene on Teitelbaum’s behalf. Calls to Felberman were not returned by press time. Frumet Teitelbaum is related to the Satmars’ Teitelbaum dynasty.

“We are working with immigration officials, advocates of the family, and their attorney to support her application for legal status so that she can regularly visit and be with her children,” Schumer said in a statement to the Standard last week.

“We have a very strong case and I believe we will be favorably adjudicated,” Wildes said.

The Teitelbaums were living in Jerusalem in 2008 when Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum went to Mumbai to work as a kosher food supervisor. He was visiting Chabad’s Nariman house there when it became one of 10 sites hit during a three-day attack by an Islamist Pakistani group. Teitelbaum was one of six Jews killed in the attack, which left 166 dead and hundreds injured.

Wildes said he has been approached by family members of other victims of the massacre and he is weighing whether to join an effort to seek damages. A motion could be filed, he said, to seize or freeze any assets in the United States belonging to the terrorist groups or the government of Pakistan if the government is linked with the terrorists.

“If these militant factions are sponsored by any government or corporate entity we would seek redress,” he said.


Former Englewood Mayor Wildes boosts Jewish boxer Salita

Former Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes, center, in black, congratulates boxer Dmitriy Salita after his victory against Franklin Gonzalez on Sept. 1. Courtesy Michael Wildes

Michael Wildes was among the first to wish Dmitriy Salita a mazel tov after the Orthodox Jewish boxer won an eight-round fight against Franklin Gonzalez last week. Wildes, an immigration attorney and former Englewood mayor, sponsored the bout with his law firm, Wildes & Weinberg.

Wildes said that the boxer, a friend, had asked him to help sponsor the fight and he quickly agreed.

“We wanted to stand behind Dmitriy to show him our stellar support of both his philanthropic work in the Russian Jewish community as well as his athletic prowess,” Wildes told The Jewish Standard last week.

He praised Salita and boxing lantsman Yuri Foreman, immigrants from the former Soviet Union, as positive Jewish role models.

“I’m very proud of their leadership in athletics, both for their leadership in the ring and in the community at large as role models for our youth,” Wildes said. “Dmitriy is a leader in the Russian community and a resource as well to Russian immigrants.”

The fight was the first time Wildes has sponsored a specific athletic event, but it’s not his first foray into professional sports. He is part owner of NASCAR’s America’s Racing Team, which launched in July, and also counsel to the New York Cosmos, the venerable soccer club that launched the career of soccer superstar Pelé, now honorary president of New York Cosmos LLC.

“What’s touching is at the highest levels, from Pelé to Dmitriy, there’s a certain modesty and an air of gratitude that when I spend private time with them is apparent,” Wildes said.

Dmitriy Salita by the numbers

Real name: Dmitriy Aleksandrovich Lekhtman
Nickname: Star of David
Rated: Junior welterweight
Nationality: United States
Born: April 4, 1982
Birth place: Odessa, Ukraine, Soviet Union
Religious views: Orthodox Jewish

Boxing record
Total fights: 32
Wins: 31
Wins by KO: 16
Losses: 1
Draws: 1
No contests: 0
Rounds boxed: 185
KO percentage: 48.48


“Dmitriy works very hard with a lot of Jewish organizations that focus on Russian youth who, for want of strong family backgrounds, are looking for role models and to embrace their Jewish culture and faith. As he walks into a ring adorned with a star of David and takes on the biblical David and Goliath image and succeeds, he is a great resource for these children that do not have role models at home and face challenges just to get to this country.”

Seeking religious freedom, the Ukraine-born Salita came to the United States with his family when he was 9. Now 28, Salita began boxing when he was 13 and went on to claim the 2001 New York Golden Gloves title. As he began his professional boxing career, Salita also began to become more Jewishly involved and he studies in a Chabad-Lubavitch yeshiva. He will not fight on Shabbat and will remain within walking distance of a synagogue when training, according to his biography on his website,

“He is as gracious in the ring as he is outside, and humble and sincere about his religious practice and sportsmanship,” Wildes said.

Last week’s fight, dubbed “Redemption” by Salita, marked the boxer’s return to the sport after a World Boxing Association light-welterweight title fight elimination against Amir Khan in December.

“It was exciting to be in the audience,” Wildes said, “to see not only Dmitriy’s skill but the enfranchisement of our community in this sport in modern day. He certainly made us proud.”

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