Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Irwin Bear”

Poker Tomorrow Night? A Good Cause

Irwin Bear was a very special  man and a mentor for me. I wrote about him when he passed away. Beyond family and business  Irwin had a passion for San Francisco Hillel and the future of the Jewish people. He also loved poker.41646_1269166167_3876_n

If you knew Irwin, you would not be surprised to discover that he  found an interesting  way to fuse the two.He ensured that sitting around his regular poker table, in addition to longtime friends, were a number of younger, emerging Jewish leaders. They would play, talk, argue, discuss and play some more. The winnings went to a Jewish cause and a powerful legacy of social responsibility passed on to the next generation.

Three of these young poker players now sit on the SF Hillel Board of Directors, in part as a tribute to Irwin and his vision. Following in his philanthropic footsteps, they helped create an annual event that would honor his memory and help raise money for a good cause.


Tomorrow night (Saturday) we will hold our 2nd annual Casino Night and Poker Tournament. The event is will be held at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center at 3200 California Street, San Francisco, 94118. I would love for you to join us. Doors open at 7pm, and the tournament starts at 7.30. There will be other casino tables too.



Alon Shalev writes social justice-themed novels and YA epic fantasy. He swears there is a connection. His latest books include: Unwanted Heroes and At The Walls Of Galbrieth. Alon tweets at @alonshalevsf and @elfwriter.  





True Mentor – Irwin Bear

This weekend, Irwin Bear passed away after a long struggle with cancer. He leaves behind a life full of success in his business, his wonderful family, and also a legacy to those whom he mentored.

Irwin was President of San Francisco Hillel from 2006-2009. He stepped into the position when our Hillel was facing many challenges. In his time he was a relentless advocate for the students of San Francisco. He was never afraid to highlight our needs and our achievements and never afraid to push the board and staff along.

Most of all, Irwin was a personal mentor to me. We met frequently and, while he pushed me to move the organization along, he was always a teacher.

Irwin was a proud alum of San Francisco State University and he enjoyed telling students of his experiences and his life story. He never spoke down to them, but sought to inspire through his own example. He often attended events and was a beloved figure in the Jewish student community.

Wishing his wife, Ann, and his family a long and healthy life. Judaism teaches that a man is measured by the good he leaves behind him. Irwin left a lot of good, and his personal example is the greatest lesson of all.

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com


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