Irwin Bear was a very special man and a mentor for me. Iwrote about himwhen 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.
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 annualCasino 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.
I have been allowed in through the back door because my full-time job is as the head of a Jewish non-profit which is seen as a vital component in the Jewish Community – The San Francisco Hillel provides educational opportunities and support for Jewish students in a part of the US where it isn’t always easy to be openly Jewish on campus.
My claim with the bookseller at the festival is that I am a recognizable figure and plan to hang out by the book table.
This is true. But it also brings up another issue. I have never exploited this circle of influence to market myself as an author of political fiction. When I launched the book, I certainly told everyone and have received varying degrees of support from students, fellow staff and stakeholders. I could have pushed for more coverage, for readings, and included more plugs in my correspondents and updates.
But generally I have kept the worlds apart. I’m not sure why. I doubt that even those who might take issue with my view of multinational corporations would hold it against me in my work at SF Hillel.
I do believe that part of my drive to write novels that spotlight and challenge social injustices comes from the emphasis that Judaism puts on Tikkun Olam – fixing the world.
So on Sunday I will wear my smarter work clothes to ensure I am recognized and will discuss political literature alongside Jewish identity, look for common ground, and hopefully sell a few books in the process.