Efrayim Clair: Using Chinuch to Give Back to the Community
Updated: Aug 23, 2022
Efrayim Clair is a Chicago native and a 2008 graduate of FYHS. Upon graduating from the Yeshiva, he spent two years learning in Israel at Yeshivat Shaalvim, after which he returned to the states to attend Yeshiva University. He participated in the YU Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education & Administration and attended the YU Semicha program for two years. He now lives with his wife Aliza and their three children, 7-year-old Gavriel, 5-year-old Elana, and 3-year-old Daniella, in Bergenfield, New Jersey, working as the executive director of the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey (RYNJ).
Although Efrayim plays a large part in overseeing the non-academic aspects of RYNJ, including security, the business office, purchasing, and maintenance, he didn’t always expect this path for himself. “I didn’t think I would end up back in education when I was in high school,” he said, “although everyone used to joke that I would be the next Mr. Schaffel, our general studies principal at the time. I don’t know where that came from, but that ended up being sort of true.” Though he originally thought of going into either clinical psychology or law, his plans changed while in YU. “I decided to go into chinuch, specifically Jewish leadership, which is something that became very important to me when I saw the need in the community. I’m proud of my ability to give back to the Jewish community. I think that it’s something that’s not always easy to do and I’m happy that I’m able to do it.”
Between going to elementary school across the street from FYHS at Hillel Torah, going to the Yeshiva for high school, and having his father work in the business office for the last 20 years, The Yeshiva is a place that has always had significance to Efrayim. “The Yeshiva really stands out to me as somewhere that, as cliché as it sounds, really became my second home. I spent more hours at the Yeshiva than I even did at my own home. I spent more than 50% of my day there. The chevra that I had, the rebbeim, and really the institution itself really became a primary place of my own growth. Rabbi Schuman and Rabbi Ginsparg specifically had a tremendous impact on me and who I ended up being. I was also very very blessed to have had an amazing class; we’re all still very close. I think that it was that chevra that allowed me to grow and succeed in the ways that I wanted to. That was something very unique and special”
Though he didn’t notice it at the time, Efrayim looks back fondly on his time at FYHS. “It's much harder while you’re in it to see what kind of impact the place is having on you,” he said. “It’s only when you’ve kind of left and gained a little bit more life experience that you can really look back and see the impact. I joked before how I spent more than 50% of my day there but, part of what that meant is that it gave me a different perspective about how to approach life, about how to be with situations that are outside of your comfort zone, and how to be in places that are not necessarily what you’re prepared for or expecting. Looking back, the Yeshiva experience is something that I wouldn’t trade for anything and it’s something that I find to have been fundamental in developing who I am as a person today. Looking back now, it was really just an amazing experience.”