Resident plays many roles giving back to Claremont

Close friends of Adar Belinkoff fondly describe the Claremont resident of 49 years as a man who “always has something to do.”

A typical day may find him leading a board meeting for Mount San Antonio Gardens, hanging out with the kids of the Claremont After-School Program (CLASP) or volunteering at Temple Beth Israel, where he has been a member since 1963.

But dawn-to-dusk activities and leadership roles are no overload for Mr. Belinkoff. In fact, he relishes it.

“The idea of waking up in the morning and not having anything to do scares me. I make sure that I always have something sitting in front of me,” he said.

A self-described leader and avid volunteer throughout his years, Mr. Belinkoff continues to aim towards a life of dedicated to service to his community and those around him.

“Claremont has been a great place to live,” Mr. Belinkoff said, “and it’s my time to do something for the town”

In addition to his assortment of duties and hobbies, Mr. Belinkoff’s latest role finds him starring in Mount San Antonio’s upcoming performance of Twelve Angry Jurors, debuting later this month.  

Though he is a novice in drama, Mr. Belinkoff is pleased to have found one more addition to his already busy schedule.

Mr. Belinkoff  prefers to find himself with an active schedule in his local community than sitting alone at home, and claims he has always been that way. A natural-born go-getter, Mr. Belinkoff’s was an active participant in the local Zionist movement in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

Some of his most cherished childhood memories are centered around local Jewish summer camps, where he fulfilled his first leadership role as a camp leader at age 14. Love for his faith helped fuel his desire to continue to serve.

“It gave me goals and direction in life,” Mr. Belinkoff said.

Mr. Belinkoff moved to Claremont in 1963 from Oak Park, Illinois and became immediately involved with Temple Beth Israel, serving as its president from 1977 to 1979.

“Adar has been a resource for many years within our community,” said Rabbi Jonathan Kupetz of Pomona’s Temple Beth Israel. “He has a sense of perspective on what’s going on at the temple. When I’m facing challenges Adar is always there for sound and sage advice. He is somebody who I trust and I know how much he cares about the congregation.”

Mr. Belinkoff served at his temple in many capacities in the decades that followed. After retiring from his career as Chief Financial Officer for the Wayne Sweeper Company in 1990, Mr. Belinkoff expanded his community involvement by accepting a seat on the Claremont human services commission.

“Claremont is an interesting place filled with citizen involvement. And the city has been good to me. I raised my family here,” Mr. Belinkoff said. “I figured it was time to give some of that back.”

Mr. Belinkoff served as a human services commissioner from 1992-2000, and as chair of the commission from 1996-1998. Highlights of his time on the commission include the opening of the Claremont Pooch Park, the addition of lights to La Puerta Sports Park, and the creation of CLASP. Mr. Belinkoff helped spearhead the after-school organization, a project he became an active participant in himself as he realized how much he enjoyed helping the kids. Amidst financial uncertainties 5 years ago, Mr. Belinkoff stepped up to be the organization’s Chief Financial Officer, a position he continues to hold today.

“It allowed me to be involved in a lot of city activities that I never knew about before,” he said. “I enjoyed doing it.”

Despite the occasional difficulty in multitasking, Mr. Belinkoff takes pride in completing his tasks with finesse, according to friends. His hard work and dedication to bettering the community has not gone unnoticed. Mr. Belinkoff was the recipient of 2 distinguished-citizen awards in 2010.

“He is a citizen in both the synagogue and community in the best sense of the word,” said Rabbi Kupetz, who fondly recalls Mr. Belinkoff and his late wife welcoming him to Temple Beth Israel 8 years ago. “He is somebody who takes ownership and responsibility for the community in which he lives.”

Mr. Belinkoff is devoted in all aspects of his life, even when it means performing on stage in full costume makeup. Jean Korf, director of the MSAG Theatre Production, enlisted Mr. Belinkoff into acting at the gardens last year with their production of You Can’t Take it With You.

“He was great,” Ms. Korf said, and since he got involved, Ms. Korf says that Mr. Belinkoff has been a huge asset to her and the productions.  “He has helped doing a lot of odds and ends—especially with sound.”

Mr. Belinkoff enjoys his new avocation, despite being an amateur on the stage.  

“I’d never acted on stage before in my life,” he said. “But it was a welcome aversion. It’s always fun to do something different.”

And though he was initially recruited for this year’s play as the production manager, after a fellow cast member dropped out, Mr. Belinkoff was, naturally, the one to step up. Though his list of activities is stacked high and his roles various and vast, he takes satisfaction in adding a new facet to his array of service.

“I find it to be very satisfying,” Mr. Belinkoff said. “ It feels good when something you suggest and push becomes reality. When you make that change, assuming that change is for the good…that’s gratifying.”

Mr. Belinkoff will grace the stage as Juror No. 8 in MSAG Theatre Company’s production of Twelve Angry Jurors at 7 p.m. on February 17 and 18. The presentation will be held in the gardens’ assembly room. For more information visit their website at www.msagardens.org.

—Beth Hartnett

 

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