12th Annual Late Night – Thursday, October 21 6pm – 11pm; 5pm VIP Reception at City National Grove, Anaheim. Information and Tickets: JewishOC.org/LateNight
Who is a wise man? He who learns from all men – The Talmud
The men of Solomon Society love fun, food, their families and friends; to schmooze and raise a glass in L’Chaim. But it’s the combination with their devotion to Jewish values that binds them.
“The success of Solomon Society is unique because it grew organically from a group trip to Israel. The enthusiasm has inspired other Jewish Federations to do the same thing,” said Stuart Wolfe, 2021 Late Night Chair, former Mensch of the Year (2017) and Board member of Jewish Federation of Orange County (JFOC).
“We never stop asking ourselves, why does this need exist and how can we help people thrive,” said David Thalberg, 2019 Late Night Chair, who has remained a loyal Solomon brother since moving to North Carolina where he is already working on creating a group. He notes, “I explain to people, you have to find guys who love their families, love to party, have big hearts. It’s not about a plaque for us.”
Solomon Society does, however, like to recognize individual members for their dedication to the community and leadership, honoring one as Mensch of the Year at the annual Solomon Society “Late Night” fundraiser.
“Our selection group is made up of past Mensches, and this year we overwhelmingly agreed about Scott Seigel,” said Kenny Beard, founding member and current Chair of Solomon Society.
Seigel found his way to Solomon Society in 2013 when he and wife Leslie (who together operated California Closets for 36 years until 2017), were out seeing a play. “Leslie ran into Rabbi Miller who was going to Israel. She said to me, ‘you should go with him’. And Rabbi Miller said, ‘if you come it will change your life.’ So I went and it did.”
Seigel participated in two Solomon Society leadership missions to Israel, and chaired the Late Night VIP Reception for the past three years. He is Vice Chair of Development on the Board of Pacific Symphony and was President of Temple Bat Yahm where he led the community-wide Distinguished Speaker Series, featuring notables like William Shatner, Gary Sinise, Kobe Bryant, Rabbi Rick Jacobs and Oprah’s clutter guru Peter Walsh.
“It is so uplifting, the friendship of these guys who care deeply about each other, their families,” said Seigel. “And at our core is an ambition to provide resources to help the people who need it and help them get from where they are to where they are going.”
This intensified during the pandemic. Explains Sam Wyman, JFOC Board Member and 2020 Chair of the JFOC Grants & Allocations Committee. “For a decade our Lifelines Emergency Assistance program has provided a bridge for people in temporary financial distress with a plan to get out of it on the back end. Then COVID hit and everything changed.”
JFOC , Wyman says, was able to adapt its programs, thanks to the generosity of the Orange County community. This included convening 230 Jewish-owned businesses and communal organizations as they applied for the Small Business Paycheck Protection Program and offering sessions of expert advice; and creating an infrastructure of lay professional and rabbinic leaders from more than 50 community partners to help share the word that Jewish Federation was here for good, and here to help. Community members in economic distress could access an emergency financial assistance application online which enabled JFOC to help both those impacted by COVID as well as many others.
“The assistance we are able to give is truly transformative in their daily existence. JFOC professionals staff are able to provide family budget coaching, information and referrals for community services,” Wyman said.
“These are exactly the kinds of traditions they want the next generation to embrace,” says Wolfe. “We especially encourage the next generation to join us. I say it’s a great on-ramp to have fun and help others; and build real, genuine relationships.”
“I attended Late Night with my father Ephie (who passed away last year), and my brother Ron attended. Now my son has seen through my eyes what I see. He wants to be part of this and so do his friends,” says Beard. “We want them to bring their youth, wisdom, spontaneity and Jewish values into our group. We look forward to talking about new ideas and where we go from here.”
Late Night returns with comedian Elon Gold as host for the 12th consecutive year. Gold currently appears in Season 3 of Crashing (HBO); his acclaimed stand up special Elon Gold: Chosen & Taken (Netflix) is on Amazon and he can be seen in the upcoming season of Curb Your Enthusiasm.