For Eli Schiff, an eight-week dash to remodel

Emilie Benyowitz, BP Staff

Leila Miller, Editor-in-Chief

Whether by carrying heavy boxes, wheeling carts through the hallway or staying until 9 p.m., Eli Schiff was going to have school ready for students.

Mr. Schiff, the new Director of Facilities, started working at Shalhevet the third week in June and spent much of the summer supervising this summer’s extensive remodel of the building. His role focused on allocating money and time, but he says he’s also been painting, watching and moving.

“Whatever needs to be done needs to be done so it’ll be ready for you guys,” he said, chatting with student volunteers while painting lockers in front of the school.

The lockers weren’t in place in time for orientation Monday, but considering how different everything else was from when students left last June (see related stories, Page 1), what was left looked pretty small.

Mr. Schiff grew up on Long Island and graduated from Yeshiva University 2005, then moved to Los Angeles in 2007 after working in real estate in New York. He then worked at the dating service J-Connect for two years, and then at Temple Ramat Zion in Northridge as a Judaic Studies teacher, and also with a group called Hebrew Helpers, which trains teenagers for their bar and bat mitzvahs.

“I enjoy working with the Jewish community,” Mr. Schiff said. He thought Shalhevet was interesting in part because of the Fairness Committee and people being held accountable for their actions.

“When I found out what Shalhevet was really about I loved it,” he said.

Mr. Schiff’s job at school does not follow a strict agenda, but will be to “make the school more efficient” by maintaining the building, calendaring, sending e-mails, and dealing with security, among other things.  He also is Executive Assistant to new head of school Rabbi Ari Segal.

Of the new remodel, Mr. Schiff said the newly clear division between teacher and student areas ensured that there was plenty of space for both, along with conference rooms where students and teachers can meet.

“We wanted it to be a more presentable place,” he said. “We wanted to give more space to everyone. I hope they [students] appreciate what it’s about.”

On the personal front, Mr. Schiff just celebrated his first anniversary with his wife, Cheri Peri, a freelance cartoonist who has had her work published in the Jerusalem Post and Chabad Publications. Mr. Schiff’s own hobbies include building puzzles – he once made a 3-D model of downtown Manhattan over several Shabbatot – and performing comedy, which he’s been recently doing at the Strait Jacket Society in West Hollywood. He also hopes to run a marathon in Los Angeles.

Now that the week he’s been working toward has arrived, Mr. Schiff will be watching closely for student reaction.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the reactions and hoping they’re what we hoped they would be,” Mr. Schiff said.