May 20, 2024
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Avraham ‘Shaya’ Eisenman Seeks Seat on Clifton Board of Education

Avraham “Shaya” Eisenman believes he can bring a new voice and perspective to the Clifton Board of Education ensuring fiscal responsibility, transparency and fighting for the needs of all children, especially those with special needs.

He is one of nine candidates vying for three open seats on the board in Tuesday’s election, including three incumbents, Judy Bassford, Lucy Danny and Frank Kasper.

Eisenman told The Jewish Link he felt the time was right to make a run. “I just finished my master’s degree so I thought the time was right to run and stand up for the community,” he said.

Eisenman, a nurse-practitioner at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Yonkers, NY, said the issue of children with special needs is especially close to his heart because he is the father of a son with special needs and is a former school nurse.

Additionally, because 50% of local taxes are earmarked for the schools, Eisenman said he also wants to ensure those dollars are used responsibly and the school board “is not used as a piggy bank.” Along those lines, he believes taxpayers have a right to know what’s being included in the curriculum their children are being taught.

Eisenman is former head of the Chaverim of Passaic-Clifton, is an active member of Hatzolah of Passaic Clifton and is on the board of the Jewish Memorial Chapel in Clifton. The 30-year-old and his wife, Yitti, are parents of two sons, ages 6 and 7, and a two-month-old daughter.

Eisenman said he would work with all constituencies and noted he has been endorsed by Councilwoman Rosemary Pino, who is Latina and a former board of education commissioner.

Pino said as she came to know Eisenman she realized like herself he believes all people and interests should have a voice on the board. As the mother of eight children, four of whom have special needs, she was especially impressed with his stance for those children.

“I served two terms on the board of education and was its vice president and I believe it is especially important to ensure everyone has a seat at the table, including those in need of special services,” she said. “I am a great advocate for my kids, but it can be intimidating so we need someone who can advocate for them.”

Eisenman said the recent controversy over remarks made by two current board members, Feras Awwad and Fahim K. Abedrabbo, criticizing Israel that were viewed by many in the Jewish community as being antisemitic, did not play into his decision to run.

“I had been thinking about doing it for a long time and made the decision to run long before the incident,” said Eisenman, whose only comment on the situation was to say the type of forum at which the remarks were made was inappropriate.

“As someone who works in medicine, I have learned not to look back and criticize, but to look forward and do better in the future,” said Eisenman.

Ari Gross, who hosted a fundraiser for Eisenman earlier in the week, said he was “incredibly impressed” with him. “I’m thrilled that somebody who is so motivated and has been showing up at all the board meetings and really nailing down what the issues are is running,” said Gross, a Clifton resident and Adas Israel president, and has found Eisenman to be eloquent.

“He presents himself as not just representing the Orthodox, but being a representative for everybody,” he said. “He talks about everybody and everything. We all talk about things like this when reading the paper or during kiddush at shul, but when somebody spends hours in attendance (at board meetings) he knows the issues. If he wins it’s because he has put in a tremendous amount of work on his own, which is remarkable.”

Gross also noted the importance of having a representative of the Orthodox community on the board to help ensure yeshivot and day schools “get what they’re entitled to, and even more to make sure what is being taught in Clifton schools is not out of line, is not slanted toward antisemitism and that they’re not ordering textbooks that are incredibly offensive and misaligned with actual history.”

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