No dark cloud at JCC gala, only a Silver lining

Looking back at the Contra Costa JCC gala honoring them for their community service, Ivor and Beryl Silver recall a splendid evening.

“The gala was lovely — very pleasant and enjoyable,” Ivor remembers.

“It was like being a movie star. People came out of the woodwork for us. We were very touched by it all,” Beryl adds.

Ivor and Beryl Silver

The Feb. 12 gala, titled “An Evening of Love and Romance with a Silver Lining,” honored the Silvers for their service to the Contra Costa JCC, as well as their many years of involvement with the East Bay International Jewish Film Festival. More than 200 people attended the fundraising gala, which benefited the JCC’s diverse programs.

Originally from England, 76-year-old Ivor Silver has spent his life working in the metals industry. His wife, 71, is a retired school teacher and a third-generation San Franciscan, and they live in Lafayette. They also love to travel, and have been virtually everywhere in the world except New Zealand and Australia.

Ivor has served on the board of the East Bay International Jewish Film Festival for more than 10 years, and is pleased with how the annual event has grown.

“It was also great to be on the committee and put these films out to thousands of people,” he says. “The festival has grown very large, and it’s getting larger. We began at the JCC with a thee-day festival with maybe seven films. Now, it runs a full week at three movie theaters and we play at least three or four films a day in each theater.”

In planning the festival, Ivor and his fellow committee members review dozens of films, and can usually tell within the first 15 minutes whether or not it will work for their festival.

“It’s easy to make the choice of a film that we know won’t work — that’s easy,” he says. “It’s harder to find films that we know will work within the constraints of time and opportunity to actually watch them. You really develop a sixth sense of whether a film has something to offer or doesn’t.”

Beryl taught preschool at the JCC for 15 years and also served on its board of directors. While she says she loved working as a preschool and kindergarten teacher at the JCC and in the pubic school system, she also says she is enjoying retirement.

“My days just get filled up with everything — I’m on the go all the time,” she says. “I’m so busy.”

As a teacher, she says it filled her with pride to watch her students grow up and become successful.

“A lot of the kids want on to become lawyers and some became rabbis — a lot of them became professionals and are doing very, very well,” she says.

East Bay residents since their marriage on April 6, 1963 — their 50-year anniversary is less than two years away — Ivor and Beryl attend Lafayette’s Temple Isaiah, where Beryl served on the board and sisterhood committee. Parents of two children, they also enjoy spending time with their five grandchildren.

Ivor remains busy with his work as president and chairman of Weisner Steel Products, which has its administrative offices in Orinda and other offices in Florida, Pennsylvania and Missouri. Ivor has headed the company for more than 40 years, and is now getting help from his son, Mark Silver, who is the vice president and general manager.

He always finds time, however, to see a good film, a benefit of his volunteering for the film festival.

“It’s been great to see how another part of the world lives and thinks and how it appeals to others,” he says. “We’ve had the opportunity to see many good films. This has been an opportunity for us to get to see movies that we probably would not have seen otherwise.”