Mitz-Vote

Who’s That Guy in the Black Hat Next to Cuomo?

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

  • Print
  • Share Share

Only one ultra-Orthodox fixer appears to have accompanied New York gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Cuomo on all four of his early October visits to Brooklyn’s Hasidic rebbes.

A YouTube video (see below) shows the man, wearing the fedora typical of the non-Hasidic ultra-Orthodox, sitting diagonal to Cuomo in a meeting with Rabbi Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, one of two claimants to the title of Grand Rebbe of Satmar, and next to Cuomo in a video of a meeting with Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, the other claimant. He leans over the back of Cuomo’s chair in a video of a meeting with Rabbi Yaakov Yechezkel Greenwald, the Pupa rebbe, and in a video of a separate meeting with Rabbi Asher Anshel Katz, the Vienner rav.

So who is this Zelig? Turns out his name is Abraham Eisner, an Orthodox businessman and a relative newcomer to the ultra-Orthodox political scene.

“He’s a very prominent communal and business leader who is very well respected in all segments of the Orthodox community, and Cuomo wisely reached out to him to help structure [his] Jewish outreach effort,” said Ezra Friedlander, a public relations consultant specializing in the ultra-Orthodox world.

Eisner’s role in orchestrating the meetings between Cuomo and the rebbes is unclear. A spokesman for the Cuomo campaign said that while he had been involved in arranging the meetings, the point person was Rabbi David Niederman, head of the Satmar-affiliated United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg.

Niederman acknowledged arranging the meetings with the Pupa rebbe and Zalman Teitelbaum, but said that he had not arranged the meeting with Aaron Teitelbaum. Eisner declined to comment.

Beyond the meetings with the rebbes, Eisner was also a key organizer, along with New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind and Friedlander, of a September 20 press conference on the steps of New York City’s City Hall when Jewish leaders and elected officials slammed Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino for calling New York State Assembly president Sheldon Silver an anti-Christ.

According to Friedlander and others, this marks Eisner’s first foray into the business of connecting political hopefuls with the ultra-Orthodox leadership. “Although he’s not a professional and seasoned politico, sometimes that brings a fresh perspective to political relationships with the community,” Friedlander said.

Eisner is the chief executive officer of GFI Mortgage Bankers, a division of GFI Capital Resources Group, a New York-based financial services company. In 1997, Eisner was quoted in a New York Times story extolling what was then a new innovation – “no-doc” mortgages. “No-doc means all we need is your name, address and Social Security number, depending on your credit history,” Eisner said at the time. According to the story, subprime mortgages accounted for 25% of GFI Mortgage Bankers’ loans in 1997, up from 10% in 1995.

There are no indications as to whether that trend continued at the company or whether the company played a part in the larger subprime mortgage crisis that rocked the nation’s economy in 2008.

Eisner’s family foundation, the Eisner Charitable Foundation, had assets worth $618,206 in 2007. He is the president of the board of directors of the HASC Center, an Orthodox social service group for the developmentally disabled.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: New York City, Dov Hikind, Carl Paladino, Andrew Cuomo, Abraham Eisner, Satmar, WIlliamsburg

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.