Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Three Men with a Wildes Streak: The family business of Leon, Michael, and Mark Wildes

Barbara Bensoussan

The talents and accomplishments of celebrated immigration attorney Leon Wildes and his two sons, Michael and Mark, aren’t limited to the legal profession. The Wildes streak for helping Jews in need has benefitted a diverse group that includes celebrities, Iranian escapees, Englewood teens, and the spiritually parched young singles of Manhattan. In a fascinating conversation, the Wildes family opens a window to their true family business: helping other Jews.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

515 Madison Avenue is one of those distinguished, older high rises on Manhattan’s East Side, where uniformed guards sign in everyone visiting its well-heeled occupants. The lobby impresses with its gleaming marble floors and walls, baroque coffered ceilings painted in gilt and autumnal colors, and a long bank of ornately sculpted brass elevators. A hushed ride in the walnut-paneled cars leads to the sixth floor, home to Wildes & Weinberg, specialists in immigration law.

Some people are blessed with the good fortune to get in on the ground floor of a growth business, and Mr. Leon Wildes, Esq., is one of them. When he decided, as a newly minted lawyer in the late 1950s, to specialize in immigration law, he had no idea that the potential clientele would one day burgeon into the millions, and that immigration would turn into one of the nation’s hottest political issues. Wildes & Weinberg, founded in 1960, has grown into one of the country’s premier immigration firms. Its successes have enabled Leon Wildes to use his time, talents, and resources to help the Jewish community in significant ways. Today, he works with his two accomplished sons, who assist in carrying out their father’s legacy of law and service to the community.

It’s a huge office. As the secretary takes coats and leads us in, we pass scores of cubicles and office doors, housing a staff of close to fifty. Arriving in Michael Wildes’s spacious office, we’re greeted by the family troika: Leon Wildes, white haired and professorial-looking in rimless glasses and a lawyerly gray suit; older son Michael Wildes, in his mid-forties, a media-genic former mayor of Englewood, NJ; and Mark Wildes, the fair-haired, lanky younger son who also went to law school, then found his calling as a dedicated kiruv rabbi.

Each man has distinguished himself in his own way. But behind the Madison Avenue opulence of the office, and the framed diplomas hanging on the walls, lie three men who are in many ways simple, ehrliche Yidden who desire nothing more than to do right by their community. And according to Mr. Wildes, senior, they are merely continuing to live according to the ways originally modeled to him by his father, Mr. Harry Wildes, z”l.

 

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.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you