When the theme for a gala is "Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother," it isn't surprising that the event, itself, became something of a family celebration.
In this case, with ceremonies that included the presentation of the Jesse Award to Marvin and Pat Weiss, no less than 28 members of the Weiss clan were among the 500 supporters of Orange County's Jewish Senior Center who came to the annual black-tie dinner dance Saturday.
With a ticket price of $150 per person, the gala at the Irvine Marriott raised more than $100,000 for the center. Event organizers said the commemorative yearbook alone garnered $60,000 in advertising revenues.
Nearly 100 senior citizens who participate in the center came as guests of various benefactors. For those elderly center participants unable to attend, Charles Margolin, himself a past recipient of the Jesse Award, had arranged for a videotape to be made of the evening of dinner, dancing, award ceremonies and entertainment by Milton Berle.
Seniors Millie and Morris Book, awaiting their turn with portrait photographers snapping souvenir likenesses of those in attendance, praised the center's lectures and recreational programs.
"The center keeps us young," Millie Book said.
Director Betty Benowitz said the center now can claim its first love story. Members Jacob Migdall and Leah Sirotnik, who met at the Garden Grove facility two years ago, were married in December.
Event Chairman Gerald Garner told those in attendance that by supporting the center, even if their own parents are not beneficiaries of the center, people honor "thy father and thy mother." His own father, he said, was deceased and his mother lives on the East Coast.
"Many of our benefactors' parents are deceased," he said. "Sometimes you wake up too late to help your parents."
The center was founded four years ago by Neddy and Seymour Vigman, said Garner, because although the county had other senior centers, no special facilities had existed for elderly Jewish people. The center provides hot kosher meals, lectures, fitness programs. Most important, however, say center supporters, it gives them a place to socialize.
"As people get older, they tend to want to be with people who seem familiar to them, people who share the same history and religious orientation," Neddy Vigman said.
She credited Marvin and Pat Weiss for being among the center's original supporters. "Marvin gave us money, and he even helped us decorate the space," she said.
Garner called the couple "exceptional people--they have dedicated a lifetime to charitable work."
For the occasion, the couple was joined by Marvin's mother, Helen, Pat's parents, Sarah and Abe Girgus, daughters Vikki and Terri, son Dr. Michael Weiss with his wife, Lynn, plus cousins, aunts, uncles and other family members. The Vigman entourage included children, Ellen Speyer, Carol Lipman, Joan Ryan and Robert Vigman, plus grandchildren Gabriel, Joshua, Sarah and Jacob.