For more than 37 years, Marc and Ellen Kelman have been actively involved in the Phoenix Jewish community. They began their journey by chairing the Young Leadership Program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix, taking active roles in the campaign as well as planning and leading monthly seminars and taking groups to the biannual Washington, D.C., conference. They have both been recipients of the Federation’s Young Leadership Award.
Marc, a businessman who is currently working in commercial real estate, has served on the boards of the Jewish Community Association of Greater Phoenix, Jewish Community Center, Hillel and the Phoenix Community Kollel. For the past 15 years, he has been on the local board of directors of Jewish National Fund and is currently a vice president of the national JNF board. He has also served as JNF’s national campaign chairman.
A licensed psychologist with a private practice in Scottsdale, Ellen has served on the Women’s Philanthropy board and on the Social Services Task Force of the Jewish Community Association. In addition, she was a board member and board president of Solomon Schechter Day School. Ellen is currently a member of the Jewish Crisis Response Team.
The couple has two adult children, Scott and Stephanie, who are also involved in the Jewish community.
Jewish Arizonans on Campus will honor the Kelmans for establishing the Kelman Family Scholarship Fund at its annual comedy night Feb. 23 (see details box). The event will also feature Mark Schiff, a standup comedian who is currently on tour with Jerry Seinfeld and recently worked with Jay Leno.
In light of the JAC honor, Jewish News asked the Kelmans the following questions:
What is your connection to Jewish Arizonans on Campus?
Before there was an organization named JAC, there was one very dedicated rabbi with a car driving back and forth to Tucson at least twice a week. Rabbi Jordan Brumer was an impressive, charismatic one-man show filling a need on the University of Arizona campus. How could we do anything but support this cause? He has grown it into the thriving, successful program on multiple campuses that it is today. We have believed in and contributed to JAC from the early stages.
What is the Kelman Family Scholarship Fund and why did you establish it?
This fund will promote Jewish education in many ways. Through JAC, students can further their Jewish learning here and in Israel. We see it as planting a seed that will flourish and give back to the community tenfold. The Kelman Family Scholarship Fund honors the memory of our parents as we continue their legacy of philanthropy. It will also honor our children by inspiring them to continue their involvement in the Jewish causes close to their hearts.
What does the Phoenix Jewish community mean to you?
Ellen grew up in the Phoenix Jewish community and has been involved as a volunteer since her teens. Together, Marc and Ellen joined the young leadership program through the Jewish federation as newlyweds and have participated as volunteers in a wide range of different organizations ever since.
Our parents set the example, showing us how important it is to give back. A strong, vibrant community has always been and continues to be our goal.
What: Comedy night featuring comedian Mark Schiff and honoring Ellen and Marc Kelman
When: 6:30 p.m. dessert reception; 7:30 p.m. performance Monday, Feb. 23
Where: Scottsdale Hilton Resort & Villas, 6333 N. Scottsdale Road.
Cost: $54; $25 students