Irving “Papa” Gelman had an incredible and everlasting positive impact on the Orange County Jewish Community. While founding Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School, the Naomi Gelman Weiss Memorial, was the crowning achievement of Papa’s impact on our community, it was certainly not his only accomplishment. As a survivor of the Shoah, Papa was committed, heart and soul, to the survival and flourishing of our Orange County Jewish Community.
When Papa and his beloved wife of 69 years, Rochelle, made Orange County their home, they made a conscious decision to dedicate the last phase of their lives to the fullest advancement of Jewish Orange County.
Papa did not see our community as Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, unaffiliated, or other. Papa saw our community as Klal Yisrael, the entirety of the Jewish People. As a serious student of Jewish history, Papa was well aware that when there is division and divisiveness among the Jewish People, we all suffer. By contrast, when we are united, when we love and support each other, even those within our family who are different from us, we can accomplish the impossible.
To honor Papa’s extraordinary legacy, and to promote the strengthening and growth of our UNITED Jewish community for countless decades to come, the “Irving ‘Papa’ Gelman Leadership Award” has been established. In conjunction with Papa’s Yur Tzeit (the anniversary of his passing), this award is to be presented every March to an individual or group from within the Orange County Jewish community who best exemplifies Papa’s values and who has also left an indelible mark on the Orange County Jewish Community.
A committee of community leaders has been formed to identify the recipient of the “Irving ‘Papa’ Gelman Leadership Award.” The inaugural committee consists of:
- Wendy Arenson- Executive Director, Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County
- Irv Chase- Board Chair, Merage Jewish Community Center of Orange County
- Rabbi Yisroel Ciner- Rabbi, Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine
- Franki Cohen- Representative of the Samson Family
- Steve Kaufman- Board Chair, Tarbut v’Torah Community Day School
- Rabbi Peter Levi- Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League, Orange County
- Rabbi Stuart Light- Director, Jewish Life and Learning, Tarbut v’Torah Community Day School
- Arlene Miller- President, Jewish Federation and Family Services of Orange County
- Rabbi Elie Spitz- Rabbi, Congregation B’nai Israel
- Rabbi Alter Tenenbaum- Rabbi, Chabad of Irvine
- Lou Weiss- Representative of the Gelman Family
- Rabbi Gersh Zylberman- Rabbi, Temple Bat Yahm
The committee will invite input and comments regarding candidates to be considered for future recipients of the “Irving ‘Papa’ Gelman Leadership Award.” Please visit www.GelmanAward.com for more information about this award program and to offer input and suggestions. To ensure your nominations receive full consideration, please submit them by June 30th.
The award will consist of an $18,000 account at the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County. The $18,000 will be allocated at the discretion of the award recipient. The only stipulation is that the funds must be given to a Jewish 501(c)(3) organization in Orange County whose beneficiaries are within Orange County. A profile of how the funds have been allocated will be delivered as subsequent award winners are announced in JLIfe Magazine each March.
The amount of $18,000 per year has been provided to the committee thanks to the generosity of individuals who want Papa’s legacy to live on and to help our community reach unimagined heights.