More than 300 guests are expected to attend the Merage JCC’s annual Celebration Ball, May 1. The festive evening will feature cocktails, dinner and a live jazz performance by Donny Most, known as “Ralph Malph” on the television show “Happy Days.”
With a theme of leadership, “One person’s candle is light for many,” the event honors three distinguished individuals who exemplify leadership in the community, Jewish community and at the JCC respectively:
• Daniele Struppa, Chancellor,
• Gideon Bernstein, Board Chair,
Jewish Community Foundation
of Orange County
• Mark Berman, longtime member
of Merage JCC Board of Directors
Daniele Strupa is currently the Chancellor at Chapman University and will be appointed president in September. From Italy to Orange County, he has served as an educator and leader. His colleague, Marilyn Harran, Stern Chair in Holocaust Education, tells us that “On Daniele’s desk is a copy of an official letter sent in 1938 by the fascist government to the eminent Italian mathematician Tullio Levi-Civita dismissing him from his professorship for one reason—he was a Jew. That letter symbolizes both Daniele’s commitment to memory and to the Jewish people and his vow that our university will never be silent or indifferent in the face of anti-Semitism or bigotry.”
As a volunteer, supporter and board member, Gideon Bernstein’s leadership impacts many of Orange County’s Jewish agencies. He has served on the board of the Jewish Community Foundation since 2006. As the current chair, he has been instrumental in the Create A Jewish Legacy initiative. The program has changed the landscape of planned giving in Orange County and provides support for numerous agencies. “Gideon is truly committed to a Jewish tomorrow. His support of the Foundation ensures continuity of Jewish life and institutions in our community,” says Irv Chase, Merage JCC Board Chair.
Mark Berman, a student of Henry Samueli’s at UCLA, came to Orange County to work at the newly minted Broadcom. The move was fortuitous for many Orange County Jewish agencies. The Merage JCC counts itself most lucky. Mark was a founding board member as the JCC opened its doors to the Irvine center, 12 years ago. “With a gentle smile and brilliant mind, Mark has steadfastly served in numerous roles and provided unerring support to the JCC. He serves as a leader amongst leaders,” Dan Bernstein, Merage JCC President & CEO.