The Irving “Papa” Gelman Leadership Award was established to recognize an Orange County Jewish Community leader who makes an impact beyond the community in which they live, who is a tireless volunteer for the community, and who has recognizable accomplishments. Arie Katz, the inaugural winner of this annual award, shares Papa Gelman’s passion for Jewish continuity through education. A busy successful lawyer, father and husband, Arie still gives generously of his time to educate the Orange County Jewish Community, creating and orchestrating a myriad of Jewish experiences with boundless energy and wide, positive influence.
Arie’s foundation in community leadership is rock-solid. Arie credits his activism to a variety of factors, including his modern orthodox Jewish education, his Zeida Boruch z’l who was a Jewish community builder, and a formative trip around the world in 1996-1997 when Arie visited and reported on Jewish communities in 22 countries and 67 cities.
At Princeton University, Arie served as President of Hillel. He spent the next a year as a visiting graduate student at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and subsequently chaired the Jewish Law Student Association at Georgetown University.
Arie displays an incredible level of energy, bringing world-class programs to Orange County. Arie founded Community Scholar Program (CSP) in 2001 and has led it for 19 years, bringing over 125 of the greatest Jewish scholars, rabbis and performers to our community. CSP reaches virtually every OC synagogue with CSP’s month-long Scholar in Residence program and an amazing variety of other educational programs.
Arie leads Orange County Jews to Jewish life outside Orange County too: on CSP family camping trips, community retreats, and on deeply immersive trips to learn about and connect with other Jewish communities around the world. Arie has led CSP tours to New York City, Israel, Poland and Lithuania, garnering rave reviews from participants.
Arie leads many other CSP-sponsored programs and events, attracting four thousand participants annually, including Jews of every flavor—from orthodox rabbis to secular Jews and others. And, he does all this without paid staff.
Here’s what a few CSP participants say about Arie:
“With his tireless passion and commitment, Arie motivates and inspires adults of all denominations seeking Jewish culture, travel and education at a challenging, multi-faceted and advanced level.” – Aleta Bryant
“Arie has been on a mission to enhance the lives of every member of the Orange County Jewish community. For almost two decades, CSP has been the cornerstone of our family’s Jewish experience.” – Tal Golan
“He provides an array of unparalleled learning experiences via renowned scholars, historians, writers and artists whose life work embraces all aspects of Jewish life, culture, values, history and arts.” – Sheldon and Susan Stern
Arie is also a founder and leader of the CBI Coastal minyan that meets once a month in Irvine. Arie is married to Amy Katz, the Ba’alat Tefila at CBI, and is proud father to Emma (22), Clara (18), Ezra (3) and Aaron (2). Arie humbly defers credit for his award to his CSP volunteers and donors. He said, “It’s a true honor to be the first recipient of the Irving ‘Papa’ Gelman Leadership Award, one I accept on behalf of the Orange County Jewish Community Scholar Program and all of our supporters who have helped to bring amazing Jewish educational programs to our community for close to 20 years!”
The Irving “Papa” Gelman Leadership Award committee is chaired by Lou Weiss for the Gelman family, and members include Wendy Arenson of OC Jewish Community Foundation, Irv Chase of JCC, Rabbi Yisroel Ciner of Beth Jacob Irvine, Franki Cohen for the Samson Family, Steve Kaufman of Tarbut V’Torah, Rabbi Peter Levi of ADL, Rabbi Stuart Light of TVT’s Jewish Life and Learning, Arlene Miller of JFFS, Rabbi Elie Spitz of Congregation B’nai Israel, Rabbi Alter Tenenbaum of Chabad of Irvine, and Rabbi Gersh Zylberman of Temple Bat Yahm.
Award recipients receive an $18,000 account at the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County, from which they may direct gifts to Jewish 501(c)(3) organizations in OC. Award winners’ charitable distributions will be reported annually in JLife Magazine with the announcement of each subsequent Award winner. Nominations of future awards can be submitted at www.GelmanAward.com.
Mazal Tov, and lead on, Arie!