IS THERE A mensch in the house? You bet! Once again it’s time for Solomon Society’s annual Late Night event. 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the Jewish Federation & Family Services men’s philanthropy group gala, and this year’s event is sure to be the most entertaining ever. Orange County’s fellowship of dynamic men will be gathering at the City National Grove of Anaheim for their annual night of “cocktails, cuisine, and comedy for a cause.” The night will include the comedy of Elon Gold and a salute to Mensch of the Year, Peter Macdonald.
A mensch is a man who has made a difference to the community, a person of integrity, someone to admire and emulate. Solomon Society co-founder Michael Stoll (who, along with his father David, was the first recipient of the Mensch of the Year award) enthusiastically praises Peter Macdonald as this year’s Mensch: “Peter received this award for numerous reasons. He is the definition of a mensch and has made a huge difference in the community. He conceptualized the Supper Club (dinner events limited to about 20 men that allow for a deeper level of conversations while still socializing). Men who didn’t know each other came to the Supper Clubs and discovered they literally were neighbors. Peter also mobilized this community to fight local hunger, creating a deep and meaningful partnership with the Orange County Food Bank. He has proven, time and time again, when something needs to be done, he will roll up his sleeves and be there.”
Peter was one of the founding members of Solomon Society in 2008. When asked to reflect on the 10th anniversary of the group, the pride in his voice was palpable: “So much has been done by so many. The contributions in terms of philanthropy and in terms of community building are astonishing. Millions of dollars have been invested in helping those less fortunate, and the men have put in many, many hours joining forces to support each other. Even the simple act of socializing together and discussing common interests (and disagreements) has an impact on others and is an example for our sons and daughters. What has happened in the first 10 years is remarkable. Imagine what we can do in the next 10!”
Peter has chaired Late Night twice and has always been heavily involved in its planning. “There are two primary reasons I’ve been involved: the first is that the community is bigger and stronger than they believe, and second is the philanthropic impact of the event.
Seeing this many men in one room with one interest is striking. You don’t feel alone in this room—all the men believe that they need to step up and do their part to contribute to society. And they do!”
When asked how it felt to be chosen as Mensch of the Year, Peter laughed and responded, “Initially I was horrified. Who am I to be singled out for this honor? There are so many men in our group who have done amazing things who are deserving of this honor. I am only one of many who could be chosen. My second reaction was humility—that I could do so much more. I pale in comparison to many others who make greater sacrifices. And third, I felt extreme gratitude. I am very fortunate with regard to my family, my wife and children, and the comforts I have been given. Because I have been given much, much is expected of me, and being Mensch is a reminder of that obligation and the gratitude that comes with it.”
Peter joins a distinguished group of previous mensches: Stuart Wolfe, 2017; Kenny Beard, 2016; Howard Mirowitz, 2015; Gideon Bernstein, 2014; Phil Waldman, 2013; Frank Ellis, 2012; Sam Wyman, 2011; David Stoll and Michael Stoll, 2010.
Erika Silver Hillinger is a contributing writer to Jlife magazine.