Elliot knew he would miss the birth, but he was determined not to miss the bris. And so, he began a rapid descent, making the trek back to basecamp – something that might take the average climber four days to make – all in a single day.
The opportunity to welcome a new addition to his family and to the Jewish nation was simply not an occasion he was prepared to miss out on.
Since then, Elliot has enjoyed watching family climb to their own “life summits” – including now watching his nephews, ages 4, 6, and 10, continue their journeys at Lainer School. The three boys are thriving under educators such as beloved and seasoned faculty member Frida Eytan, who has been at the School for three decades (spanning three name changes for the School), and who also taught Elliot in 2nd Grade.
It’s the promise of L’Dor V’dor, the passing of tradition and excellence from generation to generation, in action. “Part of why Lainer School is so successful is the confidence it gives to children in academia and beyond,” Elliot said. “Confidence to do what they think is right.”
A seasoned traveler and adventurer, Elliot folded that strong sense of compassion and the desire to do what’s right into his work, bringing medical care to villages in Tanzania, Kenya, and Darfur in Sudan, where Elliot assisted on a surgical team while exploring the culture of local villages.
“Sinai Akiba was always teaching about helping others, so after graduating college I spent a year in Africa,” he said. Giving back to those less fortunate became a part of Elliot’s identity long before college — the seeds were planted early on in the classrooms of Sinai Akiba.
Using the Swahili term “Pole Pole” (pronounced polay polay), or “slowly, slowly,” Elliot recalls the advice that is often given to those like him, who attempt to scale the tallest mountain in Africa for the first time.
Making a gradual ascent (slowly, slowly) is actually what enables the climber to succeed. Athletes who try to scale the slope too swiftly don’t make it to the top. Elliot sees this nugget of wisdom as analogous to his education at Sinai Akiba. Only through daily, gradually absorbed lessons about Judaism and Jewish living was he able to internalize the message of Tikkun Olam.
“Akiba was and remains a playground for Jewish ingenuity and accomplishment,” he said. Teachers like Rivka Shaked, Ahoova Zeffren, Heather Lipman, Renee Kraus, and so many others helped to create that powerful playground for Elliot and his classmates.
A graduate of UCLA and Southwestern Law School, Elliot also fondly remembers Rabbi Laurence Scheindlin, former Headmaster at Sinai Akiba, encouraging students to find a teacher and ask more questions.
“As a lawyer now, it’s my job to ask questions in depositions, so I’m using that curiosity daily,” Elliot said. With a thriving law practice and expertise in real estate litigation, Elliot has journeyed on the path to success and made it to the top of his own personal mountain.