First Person | Local

Men’s fishing trip a chance to share wisdom

Tucson’s Men’s Next Gen Group and Chai Life Men’s Group on a San Diego fishing boat. Back row (L-R): Rob Glaser, Alex Chaffin, David Goldstein, Gary Kippur, Nolan Shifren, Barry Baker, Christian Yoder, Jeff Katz, Matt Landau, Daniel Ash, Mike Ash, Doron Sears, Lex Sears, Paul Baker, Michael Shiner; front row: Tom Warne, Steve Silverman, Larry Selig, Josh Hurand, Jeff Wortzel, Bobby Present, Adam Goldstein, Stuart Mellan, Mitch Pozez, Ben Pozez, Josh Silverman, Ben Silverman, Damion Alexander, Todd Sadow

The Tucson Jewish community’s Men’s Next Gen group and the Chai Life Men’s Group took a weekend in San Diego Nov. 3-5 to build intergenerational relationships. While the trip included a fishing excursion (perhaps with a small wager on who would haul in the largest fish), great food, and a few drinks, the goal was to provide social and mentorship opportunities.

Jeff Wortzel (left) and Ben Silverman show off their catch. (Damion Alexander)

The Men’s Next Gen group, which has been around for 13 years, was the brainchild of real estate developer Donald Diamond and retired businessman Paul Baker, who wanted to reinforce ties among the distinguished Jewish leadership in Tucson. Both of them have served in countless roles in the Jewish community and the community at large. The Chai Life Men’s Group has grown out of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona Young Men’s Group and is made up of “kids” in their 30s and 40s.

According to Gary Kippur, co-founder of Tucson Iron & Metal, Diamond and Baker mentored him both in his business and in the importance of nurturing and supporting the Jewish community in Southern Arizona.  The idea of L’dor v’dor is a major component of Judaism — passing traditions from generation to generation to keep them alive.

Kippur, a former JFSA campaign chair, says Diamond told him, “If and when there is a Jewish issue, locally, nationally or internationally, the Jewish Tucson leadership has to have relationships with the guys so we can count on each other to get involved and take the initiative to solve the problem at hand.” Kippur added that the reason for the San Diego trip was to build on the past in order to secure our future.

Adam Goldstein, who was a member of the Young Men’s Group and helped create the Chai Life group, says, “This trip allows us to maintain the bonds we created in Young Men’s Group and it’s wonderful to expand it one step further, now learning from the Next Gen group. I appreciate their willingness to pass their wisdom on to us with the hope we will follow in their footsteps.”

Josh Hurand, a past board member for the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation, currently assists with the Jewish Latino Teen Coalition and is a member of both the JFSA 2018 Community Campaign team and the JCF aligned grants committee. He also serves as a board member on the UA Poetry Center development council. He says, “The trip provided me with an opportunity to bond with my peers and connect with the older generation. Over meals and fishing I had numerous conversations about business and family, and ways to enhance our community. The more we put into our community, the more we get out of it. The San Diego fishing trip reinforced my gratitude to those who have made it great, and my commitment to keep it going for future generations.”

Damion Alexander

Personally, I was able to make a connection with Tom Warne, immediate past chair of the JFSA, whom I have admired from afar for a few years for his commitment to making Pima County a better place. Even though we have worked on many of the same projects, such as the Pima County Bond Election in 2015, we had never had the chance to compare notes. Tom has already been down many of the roads I’m currently walking down and his advice will allow my journey to be easier and hopefully lead to success. This weekend and conversations with Tom and all of the others gave me a true sense of belonging to this community. 

The trip was such a success that there is already talk about other ways the groups can collaborate in making Tucson a better community as well as more joint networking opportunities.

Damion Alexander is a Realtor in Tucson and a member of the Arizona Jewish Post advisory board.