Irv Chase Retires as Board Chair
“Acharai,” the Hebrew word for “after me,” is a popular concept suggesting that one leads and motivates others by jumping in. No word is more apropos of Irv Chase’s leadership. He is the first to jump in, advocate, recruit, and inspire.
Prior to 2004, the Jewish community in Orange County was small and spread out, with few connections. Irv’s wisdom of local Jewish life and experiences with his family at the JCC Maccabi Games around the country inspired him to want more for our own community. With a group of local Jewish leaders, and in partnership with founding CEO, Dan Bernstein, Irv assumed the role of founding Chair of the Merage JCC and was instrumental in imagining what a Center could be. For the past 16 years, as the J’s founding Chair of the Board, he brought the dreams to reality.
Irv’s unsurpassed leadership, kindness, philanthropy, and generosity of spirit have energized and engaged our Board, members, and staff alike. “Irv is a true leader and role model for the community and beyond. He leads by example and is always the first to volunteer,” notes Adrienne Matros, JCC Board member, “Irv is quick to share his patriotism and love for the U.S. and Israel, always noting that his parents were Holocaust survivors. His long-time dedication to the JCC is unwavering and I’m so proud to be on Irv’s team.”
Hal Altman follows Irv as our new Board Chair and shares, “As I started both spending more time with Irv on our daily phone calls, I realized two outstanding qualities that helped make Irv the person he is: His belief that whenever you deal with another person the outcome has to be ‘fair’ for all involved and that all dealings concerning the Merage JCC have to be ‘transparent’. Irv is the most honest, upfront businessman I have met in my many years in business. This honesty and integrity are reflected every day at the Merage JCC.”
The last several months have proven unequivocally difficult and challenging, as the J juggled the dire implications of a global pandemic. Nevertheless, the crisis did not define the advancements of the past 16 years. Under Irv’s leadership, the J grew past 3,000 membership units, expanded the preschool, developed the Chase Family Holocaust Memorial Garden, launched the OC Jewish Arts Festival, fully developed JCC Cares, with nearly 1,000 volunteer opportunities per year, and so much more.
Through the growth, the changes, and the pandemic, today the Merage JCC is vastly different than 16 years ago. Nevertheless, the foundation remains the same, building a Center ensuring Jewish continuity in Orange County.
If you are lucky enough to know Irv, you can attest to his great love of history and commitment to honoring those who came before us. It’s only fitting Irv has made some history himself. Thank you, Irv, for forever changing the landscape of the OC Jewish community.