On Thursday, September 13, 2012, the Solomon Society of Jewish Federation & Family Services (JFFS) will host its annual “Late Night with Solomon Society” at the City National Grove of Anaheim, which it advertises as “Cocktails, Cuisine, and Comedy for a Cause.” Proceeds will go towards JFFS. The event’s headliner this year is actor/comedian Paul Reiser, co-creator and star of the NBC Emmy Award-winning series Mad About You.
Since 2010, the Society has awarded a “Mensch of the Year” award to members who have demonstrated exemplary leadership, Jewish values and philanthropic and community involvement. Past Mensches of the Year include father and son David and Michael Stoll (2010) and Sam Wyman (2011). This year’s Mensch of the Year is Frank Ellis.
“I am in great company following the past Mensch of the Year Awardees,” Ellis said. “It’s quite an honor and I am deeply appreciative of this recognition.”
Ellis has been extensively involved the Jewish community for more than 25 years. His dedicated involvement with JFFS began with its Young Leadership Division, of which he ended up serving as president. He still remains in it today as an advisor. Currently, he serves as co-executive vice chair of the JFFS board. In the past he served as its chair of community philanthropy. Ellis is a founding member of the Solomon Society and has played an integral role in improving men’s philanthropic activities in Orange County.
In his professional life, Ellis is a director at SingerLewak and leads the firm in its business development efforts. He is also on the executive board of the Anti-Defamation League, as well as those of Association for Corporate Growth and the Disability Awareness Foundation. In addition to his leadership roles, Ellis attends University Synagogue and is a member of Financial Executives International and a supporter of AIPAC.
“Being Mensch of the Year is an overwhelming honor for me. It means so much to me to be appreciated by my colleagues and friends, to be recognized in this way,” Ellis said. “To me, being a mensch is being a standup guy, the person who you can trust, who has your back, always with good intentions. That’s the guy I try to be.”
Ellis grew up in the Jewish community of Orange County, which he simply describes as “wonderful.” He learned the value of community and the importance of sacrifice at a very early age.
“I learned that giving is indeed receiving,” Ellis said. “Whether it’s coaching the Maccabbi games, mentoring up-and-coming professionals or helping to create a pathway of engagement for people in our community, I continue to gain a sense of self-worth. When I nurture and guide new leadership for JFFS, I reap the rewards of brotherhood and companionship.”
In addition to helping his community flourish, Ellis also places a lot of value on the friends he has made in the Solomon Society. He has traveled abroad and performed great community services with his Society brothers, including assisting the severely disabled, visiting a terrorist-affected area in Israel and meeting members of the Jewish community in Cuba.
“On these trips we bond not only as friends, but as members of the family of man,” Ellis said. “These are the moments that make a difference in the lives of others and truly elevate our sense of connectedness to our higher selves and to each other.”
Ellis confessed that he never had a Bar Mitzvah ceremony. He describes himself as “that special blend of Southern California Jewish boy whose parents loved the Jewish community but didn’t want their son to sacrifice his active love of sports.” As he grew older, Ellis began to find that the more he got in touch with his Jewish roots and the more he became a vital part of the OC Jewish community, the more those experiences “activated his soul” in such a way that playing shortstop had come close to, but never totally accomplished.
“But in a way, being a part of a team with a common purpose has always been my thing. Being a part of a team,” Ellis said, “is what being Mensch of the Year means to me. Being a part of a team that has a higher purpose, that strives to support the most the most fragile members of our community, provides life changing emergency care, educates the needs of our next generation and is always looking at ways to be better.
“So being a mensch, to me, is not a selfless act. I get so much out of being involved in this community, giving philanthropically, being connected to all of you, who bring out the mensch in me. I’m grateful and humbled to be acknowledged in this way and feel lucky to be a part of this wonderfully soulful and heart-centered community.”
General admission to Late Night with Solomon Society is $136, and VIP sponsor admission is $360. VIPs will be treated to an exclusive All the King’s Mensches Glennfiddich Scotch Tasting reception as well as the opportunity to sit down to conversation with Paul Reiser. The VIP reception is at 5 p.m., and the doors will open for general admission at 6:30 p.m.
Readers who would like to become a VIP sponsor or are interested in additional information may contact the Solomon Society at SolomonSociety@jffs.org.