Ora Kornbluth, Bergenfield Borough Council President, has been Acting Mayor since Timothy J. Driscoll passed away last month. She runs the meetings, signs the papers and presents the public face of Bergenfield. With two council meetings a month, Chairmanship of the Recreation Committee and membership in the Finance and Police Committees, Kornbluth has gotten a whirlwind on–the-job training course in local government. “If I had known how much time this would take, I’m not sure I would have done it,” she muses.
Time is a precious commodity to Kornbluth who has several jobs and interests. She is the Director of Business and Operations for Yeshivat He’Atid, a Bergenfield day school that opened in September. The school has a mission to offer differentiated learning, the ability to teach children in the way they learn best, and to accomplish this with blended instruction, a mix of students working with teachers, in small groups and on their own with technology.
The school is also determined to keep tuition costs down while giving children a high quality education in Judaic and secular studies.and is about half the cost of comparative Jewish day schools. A sports enthusiast, Kornbluth is also an Official Statistician for CBS Sports and does statistics for the National Football League when the Jets and Giants play.
Keeping costs down and keeping score are skills that serve Kornbluth well in governing Bergenfield. “Taxes are probably the most important issue we deal with,” Kornbluth says. “We have high pension and insurance costs with a two percent cap.” As a member of the Finance Committee, Kornbluth helped formulate the annual budget and make staffing recommendations that have saved almost $100,000.
Maintaining the quality of life in Bergenfield is another mandate for the Borough Council. As Chair of the Recreation Committee, Kornbluth is proud that Bergenfield has been named one of the best 100 communities to raise children. “The more child based programs we have, the more we become an attractive community for families,” she notes.
Kornbluth got involved in Bergenfield government from the time she and her husband moved here from Manhattan in 1991. She started with small committees like the Police Athletic League (PAL), then the Zoning and Planning Boards. She was approached by the Democratic Party to run for Council. The council president, who automatically fills in for the mayor, is elected each year and this year the spot was given to her. There will be a special council meeting on April 18 to choose a new permanent mayor.
As Council President and Acting Mayor, Kornbluth responds to the needs of a diverse community as well as the special requirements of being an Orthodox Jew. She has been able to blend the two together without a problem. “Last year Memorial Day fell on Shavuous but I thought it was important to be in the parade,” Kornbluth says, “so I walked several miles to get there and then walked in the parade.” When the Borough Clerk is ready to make the annual calendar, she sits down with Kornbluth to review the holidays so there will not be a conflict. During a snowstorm this past winter, Kornbluth advised the DPW about Shabbos candle lighting and davening times so the streets would be plowed and residents could get to shul safely. “Everyone has been very accommodating,” she says.
By Bracha Schwartz