Posted on February 1, 2015
It says something when you grow up going to a temple and then as an adult you decide to come back to raise your own family. Eric Schiffer went to religious school, was Bar Mitzvahed by beloved Rabbi Henry Front, and was confirmed at Temple Beth David. Experiencing Judaism – especially the big holiday observances – alongside his mom Jane (a longtime Temple Beth David member) was a special part of his childhood. Though raised reform, both sides of Eric’s family were orthodox and his great grandfather was a Rabbi.
Fast forward, one day Eric and Peggy met. Though they both graduated from UCI (Eric earning a Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature with a minor in Spanish; Peggy a Bachelor’s in Psychology followed by a Teacher’s Credential), the two actually met and began dating when Eric was starting law school. After passing the bar and getting established in his career, the two wed, yet not before they spoke extensively about how to make their interfaith relationship work as she was Catholic and he Jewish. Eric says it’s a process that some interfaith couples avoid, to their detriment. For them, however, the journey included attending an interfaith educational program hosted by another temple and making a commitment to one another to raise their children Jewish. After a few years at the other temple where they first attended that interfaith educational program, they met and felt an instant connection with Rabbi Nancy Myers and were inspired by the growing diversity of Temple Beth David’s congregation. They joined in 2009 which for Eric was like coming back home. Since then their son Zack, a high school freshman, had his Bar Mitzvah in 2013. Their daughter Leah, a 7th grader, will have her Bat Mitzvah this April.
It was Eric who recently inspired our Temple Board to launch an Interfaith program such as the one that was so helpful to him and Peggy. As a result, one will begin here this month.
Now a look further back. Eric is of Hungarian and Russian descent, was born on the east coast, and moved to California when he was eight. Through school he was in theater and choir, and graduated high school at the top of his class. After becoming an attorney, he earned a Master’s degree in English at California State University, Long Beach. Since he says being a lawyer is 90 percent writing, he’s glad he did! He now has his own law firm – Schiffer & Buus, APC – with one partner who he met in law school. Well known for specializing in civil appeals, Eric has had four opinions published making them precedent in the court of law. In addition to serving on the Temple’s Board as VP of Operations, which he says is his way of giving back and also being a good role model for his own kids, this dynamo leader and dad is also on the Southwestern Law School’s Board of Trustees and was on the City of Westminster’s Personnel Commission until the family took new residence in Rossmoor. He is a member of our temple choir with a great group of people under the direction of the ever talented Cantor Nancy Linder.
Peggy is of Italian and Korean descent and was also born on the east coast. As a result, Judaism wasn’t foreign and it was a faith she understood and is supportive of raising her kids in while continuing to remain Catholic herself. As a family they enjoy honoring one another’s holidays. Peggy is a dedicated elementary school teacher in the Los Alamitos Unified School District. Having been involved in speech and debate throughout her own education, one of her many admirable traits, Eric says, is what an engaging speaker she is.
As a family, a favorite pastime is exploring the grandeur and beauty of national parks. They love going to theater, singing, watching Zack perform in his high school’s show choir, and seeing Leah being bitten by the acting bug. The proud parents marvel at how much Zack and Leah care for one another and heed their parents’ advice to work hard and appreciate where that gets you. There is also lots of laughter in the house which may explain why all four have appeared on TV game shows – Peggy on Hollywood Squares, Eric on Win Ben Stein’s Money, and with the kids on Family Game Night.
The Schiffer household also includes their dog Epo (“pretty” in Korean), Louie the parrotlet, Moe the goldfish, and the 13 koi that came with their new house.
How lucky we are at Temple Beth David that the Schiffers are a special part of our family tree!