A mix of art and music by clients of beneficiary agencies showcased the work of UJA-Federation of New York to nearly 500 women philanthropists attending In Her Footsteps, Women’s Philanthropy signature event held June 3rd at the Grand Hyatt New York.
It was all part of an event that celebrated the collective impact of Women’s Philanthropy, which raises approximately $30 million annually. The event also paid special tribute to Nurit Amdur, co-founder and CEO of ALEX toys, and three philanthropic sisters, Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, Lois Robbins-Zaro, and Carol S. Weisman.
Instrumental music by musicians from the Bloomingdale School of Music, supported by UJA-Federation’s Music for Youth initiative, greeted guests as they entered the event. And Tizmoret, an a cappella choir of Queens College Hillel, provided heartfelt entertainment. Also on display were paintings created at a range of programs serving children, Holocaust survivors, and people living with developmental disabilities or mental illness.
Following a live performance by Y-Love, a hip-hop artist who rapped about Jewish women leaders and UJA-Federation, event chair Emily Gindi said, “As individuals, each of you contributes to helping those in need. As a group, however, we’re even stronger and more powerful, and we truly represent tikkun olam, repairing the world.”
Passion for Philanthropy
In a video shown at the event, honorees Lautenberg, Robbins-Zaro, and Weisman noted the deep influence of their parents Jean and Meyer Steinberg in inspiring their own philanthropic contribution.
“We’re proud of what our parents taught us,” Weisman said. Lautenberg added, “We’re proud to show our children what our parents showed us.” Her sentiment was echoed by Robbins-Zaro, who said she was “proud to carry on a tradition that is so important,” and said she was “grateful to our parents who set a wonderful example for us.”
Karen Friedman, vice chair of Women’s Philanthropy’s Annual Campaign, presented the three honorees with a special gift of recognition.
In presenting honoree Amdur with her award, Jodi J. Schwartz, chair of Women’s Philanthropy, said, “You are a passionate advocate for Israel, for philanthropy, for the role of women. It’s remarkable that you and your family were once recipients of services of UJA-Federation, and now you are able to help those in need.”
Amdur said, “My parents were Holocaust survivors. They were direct recipients of Jewish kindness and charity when they got out of the camps and when they arrived in Israel.” She acknowledged that she has come full circle and said, “I received a lot, and now I’m able to give back a lot.”
Lois Kohn-Claar received the Martha K. Selig Young Leadership Award, which was presented to her by Martine Fleishman, president of Women’s Philanthropy.
“I know I follow a list of very impressive women who have received this award and I appreciate your vote of confidence in me,” said Kohn-Claar. ” I don’t take this mandate lightly. I feel a very powerful responsibility to take a role in sustaining the roots of Jewish life for the next generation, an infrastructure that UJA-Federation has spent years building. “
Professor Gabriela Shalev, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, was a special guest speaker at the event. “It is a great honor to celebrate women and Jewish philanthropy,” she said. “You commit your time to make our world a better place.”
Shalev also noted that the community of ambassadors in New York is small. Of 192 ambassadors, only 25 are women, though that is an increase from five years ago when there were eight women ambassadors. She noted that “what we lack in numbers, we try to make up with in political” clout.
She acknowledged the ability to talk “woman to woman” with Susan Rice, United States ambassador to the United Nations, and said how without the support of the U.S. at this time, Israel would be even “more isolated.”
In a reference to the recent flotilla incident, Shalev said, “It is difficult right now, and nice to face supporters today.”