Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Brooklyn Bridge

Binyamin Rose

David Greenfield is arguably one of America’s most powerful Orthodox Jewish elected officials. His Brooklyn district is home to more than 120,000 Jews, but if you ask him, he insists the best way to serve them is to exert broad influence for the benefit of all his constituents. As Mishpacha’s news editor Binyamin Rose shadowed Greenfield for a full working day, Councilman Greenfield shared the political wisdom of a spiritual gadol, and disclosed how his yarmulke almost set off a Mideast crisis.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

All little boys have big dreams, but only a few ever work their way into a position to make those dreams come true.DavidGreenfield did. As a child, he played in one of Brooklyn’s most crowded and run-down playgrounds —in the 18th Avenue Park — losing patience with the long lines for the one and only swing set. When he got elected to the New York City Council in 2010, at age 31, he decided to make park renovation his top priority. It took the next five years, dozens of meetings, and cutting through copious quantities of red tape before he secured $5.45 million to renovate the park. “When I broke ground on the project just a few weeks ago and thought about the tens of thousands of children who will enjoy the same park that disappointed me as a child some 30 years ago, I was elated,” Greenfield says, looking forward to the day when the park will boast not just two new swing sets, but four new playgrounds, brand-new basketball and paddle-ball courts, a new baseball field, new benches, trees, and lighting. As a member of the City Council, the Big Apple’s lawmaking body, Greenfield considers the $23 million he has already obtained for parks funding as his most significant accomplishment to date. City and State, a bimonthly magazine devoted solely to covering New York government and politics, ranks Greenfield as the 69th most powerful New Yorker, a position from which he should be able to make more of his and his constituents’ dreams come true. I catch up withDavidGreenfield on the steps of City Hall, after he emerges from an emergency session to negotiate the city’s $78 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2016. And although I’m a bit jet-lagged following the flight fromTelAviv to New York the day before, Greenfield’s energy and enthusiasm level is contagious. While big political decisions are made behind closed doors, it is the informal political chatter that greases the wheels behind the scenes. With his black velvet yarmulke, Greenfield is one of the most influential members of a political culture that seats representatives of every ethnic and religious community under one domed roof.

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Evolution vs. Revolution
Shoshana Friedman I call it the “what happened to my magazine?” response
Up, Up, and Away
Rabbi Moshe Grylak What a fraught subject Eretz Yisrael is, to this day
Where Do You Come From?
Yonoson Rosenblum Could they be IDF officers with no Jewish knowledge?
Heaven Help Us
Eytan Kobre Writing about anti-Semitism should rouse, not soothe
Work/Life Solutions with Chedva Kleinhandler
Moe Mernick “Failures are our compass to success”
An Un-Scientific Survey
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Are Jerusalemites unfriendly? Not necessarily
Out of Anger
Jacob L. Freedman How Angry Lawyer was finally able to calm down
5 Things You Didn’t Know about…Yitzy Bald
Riki Goldstein He composed his first melody at eight years old
When the Floodgates of Song Open, You’re Never Too Old
Riki Goldstein Chazzan Pinchas Wolf was unknown until three years ago
Who Helped Advance These Popular Entertainers?
Riki Goldstein Unsung deeds that boosted performers into the limelight
Your Task? Ask
Faigy Peritzman A tangible legacy I want to pass on to my children
Are You There?
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Emotional withdrawal makes others feel lonely, abandoned
A Peace of a Whole
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt Love shalom more than you love being right
Seminary Applications
Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald, as told to Ariella Schiller It’s just as hard for seminaries to reject you