2023 Recipient of the Irving “Papa” Gelman Leadership Award
“To persevere and do what you can for the next generation. Stick to your values and don’t be persuaded to change them,” is one of the most valuable lessons Adrienne Matros learned from Irving “Papa” Gelman during their many years of friendship.
Adrienne Matros has been named the recipient of the Irving “Papa” Gelman Leadership Award for her leadership contributions to numerous Jewish and communal organizations in Orange County, nationally and globally.
The “Papa Gelman” Leadership Award was established in 2019 to recognize an Orange County Jewish Community Leader who makes an impact beyond the community in which they live; is a tireless volunteer for the community; and has recognizable accomplishments. This perfectly describes Adrienne, and is the reason she received this prestigious award.
Past winners of the award were Arie Katz, The Mega Challah Bake, and Jackie Menter.
A committee made up of both professional and lay leaders of the community heartfully and unanimously voted for Adrienne to win this annual award.
One of the important criteria for the award was the recipient must be a person who was a leader, a giver, and a role model for others to follow. Adrienne fits every description that “Papa” Gelman would have associated with this honor.
When speaking with Adrienne about “Papa,” she still refers to him as “Mr. Gelman,” a true sign of a respect for his memory.
Adrienne is perhaps without peer the busiest person in the Orange County Jewish Community when it comes to helping others. Her energy and desire to help extends to many worthwhile causes, both here and in Israel.
She currently serves on multiple boards and numerous committees including:
CHOC’s Foundation Board, the Merage JCC, Tilly’s Life Center and Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County.
As President of JNF Orange County, she advocates for programs and funds for Israel. She also volunteers at Samueli Academy and Girl’s Inc.
If that’s not a full day’s work, she is on the National JCCA Board and chairs the Israel Engagement Committee as well. Internationally, she is on the JCC Global Board of Directors.
She is also Co-Chair of JCC Cares, a group of the Merage JCC, that provides assistance in the Orange County community through food drives, blood drives, and other outreach efforts. This program has been recognized by every JCC in the country.
Adrienne is a clinical psychologist with over 30 years of experience. She has used that knowledge to help her relate to the needs of others. Her extensive work with children and adults has helped her to envision programs and solutions, find the agencies or corporate donors who want to be a part of her plan, and then lead them to the greatest good that they can provide.
Adrienne and her husband Rick moved to Orange County over 21 years ago. She immediately looked for causes to connect with and brought her background in to help. If she saw a need, she would reach out to friends and community leaders, and work on solving the problem and helping those who needed it.
She and Rick have raised a large family in OC, and she makes sure her children and grandchildren stay the number one focus of her life. Yet, if new needs arise, she is always ready to find additional time in her schedule to get involved.
Adrienne met “Papa” Gelman when her son Alex was a student at Tarbut V’Torah (TVT). Their friendship was immediate as they discussed ways to improve TVT. He encouraged her to become active in many of the school events and fund raisers. They spent many hours over the years working devotedly for the school.
Fortunately for Adrienne, these conversations also became a learning experience for her, as Papa Gelman’s philosophy of life and helping was right in line with Adrienne’s. Another favorite word of wisdom was “contribute but also be involved, for monetary donations are not the only answer.”
Another one of the nuggets of wisdom from Papa Gelman that Adrienne still relies on today is that “she should continue a strong Jewish life and continue helping multiple Jewish causes, while always valuing a Jewish education.”
She proved she was a quick learner and has become the forerunner in helping her community. Adrienne is both a leader and a role model for those who want to help others.
The committee took this into consideration and know that in future years, the path that Adrienne has taken will be a blueprint for current and future leaders.
The award consists of an $18,000 account at the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County. This money will be allocated at the discretion of the award recipient to benefit Jewish 501(c)(3) organizations in the OC whose beneficiaries are within the OC.
The Irving “Papa” Gelman Leadership Committee was formed to ensure that Papa’s memory will live on and that his legacy will inspire others to greater acts of communal involvement. Through this award, we are hoping the Jewish community will be strengthened and deepened for generations to come. The committee consists of a broad spectrum of leadership across all denominations and all facets of the Jewish community.
The committee consists of: Hal Altman, Chair of the Board of the Merage Jewish Community Center of Orange County; Wendy Arenson, Executive Director and President of the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County; Rabbi Yisroel Ciner, the Lawrence Rael Rabbinic Chair at Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine; Franki Cohen, Representative of the Samson Foundation and Samson Family; Steve Kaufman, Past President of Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine and Tarbut v’Torah and the Solomon Society Mensch of the Year; Heather Kline, Chair of the Board of the Jewish Federation of Orange County; Rabbi Peter Levi, Regional Director, ADL Orange County/Long Beach; Rabbi Stuart Light, Director of Jewish Life and Learning at Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School; Rabbi Alter Tenenbaum, Senior Rabbi of Chabad of Irvine; Lou Weiss, Representative of the Weiss Family; Rabbi K’vod Wieder, Senior Rabbi at Temple Beth El; and Rabbi Gersh Zylberman, Senior Rabbi at Temple Bat Yam.