SOLOMON SOCIETY OF JEWISH FEDERATION & FAMILY SERVICES began modestly in 2008 with a business trip to Israel, but it has developed into so much more. Twenty men went to Israel as colleagues, returned as family, and the rest, as they say, is history. Celebrating its 10th year on October 10 with its annual Late Night event, Solomon Society has already created an enduring legacy.
Named after King Solomon—considered to be the wisest of all men—Solomon Society attracts men across the spectrum: some are already active with JFFS, some had never been involved but were active in their synagogues, and some had little or no connection to Jewish life at all. While the men enjoy the social aspect, they also understand that there is a deeper, more meaningful purpose to their activities.
Solomon Society’s goal (through social events, community volunteering, and Late Night, their major fundraiser) is primarily to support people in need through the Generations Fund of Jewish Federation & Family Services—helping Jewish families in crisis and helping Jewish seniors, many of whom are alone and lonely. Solomon Society has also chosen to support the JFFS teen counseling program.
“At its core, Solomon Society is a brotherhood focused on helping people and helping the community,” explains co-founder Michael Stoll. “It’s a community-building vehicle where men of all ages from all over the county and every kind of worship practice are proud to be members and help each other just because they’re friends. For myself, we created a community that I never thought could even exist in Orange County. We’re so lucky to have the group and have each other.”
Reflecting on how it feels to be celebrating Solomon Society’s 10th anniversary, Michael laughs and says, “It’s funny to go back and look at the pictures and see how young we were! I think we are definitely having as much fun today as we did 10 years ago, and all while doing such good in the community.”
Kenny Beard, current President of Solomon Society and also a founding member, is elated about the success of the group: “On our 10th anniversary, I am so excited to be able to be a part of this amazing group of guys who are able to make a difference in our community through our philanthropic efforts. We know that we are stronger together than individually, and we truly care for each other and everyone in our community. The fact that we all have a great time doing this is a bonus.”
Hoping to recreate the meaningful experience they had in Israel on their first trip, the men had a 10th reunion mission trip to Israel this past May. “Most of the guys who were on the trip were on the first trip, and although we were cautiously optimistic that the experience would be the same, I think we had even more fun than we did 10 years ago,” Michael notes. “And I’m not talking about the things that we saw per se, but the memories that we created together.”
Michael’s father and co-founder David Stoll adds: “Solomon Society is an asset for entrepreneurs and professional people because the connections are tremendous, but more than that, we’re one big chavurah. It fills a void that many men aren’t even aware they have, and the group resonates among men of all ages.”
Looking back at the past 10 years, David continues, “It doesn’t seem like 10 years, and as the elder statesman, so to speak, it is very gratifying to sit in on meetings and see the enthusiasm and dedication of all the men for improving our community. For me to watch that still happening 10 years later is a fantastic experience, especially as that is the way it’s been since day one. From the very beginning, Solomon Society took on a life of its own. It’s about raising money, having a good time, and Jew helping Jew. And that’s really why we’re all here.”
The 10th anniversary event, Late Night with Solomon Society, will be held on October 10, 2018. For more information and to register, please go to www.Jewishoc.org/LateNight. For information about Solomon Society and how to get involved, please contact Doris Jacobson at email@example.com.
Erika Lynne Silver is a contibuting writer to Jlife Magazine.