“The humanity of a society is measured, I believe, by the way that society treats those who need support,” Evan R. Chesler told hundreds of his colleagues who had gathered at the annual event of UJA-Federation’s Lawyers Division. The reception, held at The Pierre on January 29, 2013, raised more than $1.1 million to support the work that UJA-Federation makes possible.

Evan Chesler and Ronit Berkovitch
Evan Chesler and Ronit Berkovich, the two honorees at UJA-Federation's annual Lawyer's Division event.

“We are facing a time when there is a real challenge to the safety net,” Chesler continued. “The role of government in supporting those who need society’s support is diminishing… so it falls to the private sector to maintain the humanity of our society.”

Chesler, the chairman of Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, was receiving the Judge Joseph M. Proskauer Award in honor of his philanthropic work, and Ronit J. Berkovich, a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, was being similarly honored with the James H. Fogelson Emerging Leadership Award.

CNN senior analyst Jeffrey Toobin shared some of his knowledge and expertise about the Supreme Court with the attendees before the presentation of the awards. “It is an honor to contribute to UJA-Federation and the wonderful work that they do,” Toobin said.

Keith Krakaur, chair of UJA-Federation’s Lawyer’s Division and a partner at Skadden, Arps, introduced Toobin and told the attendees that in lieu of a formal dinner at the event, UJA-Federation would be helping to feed impoverished men, women, and children through four beneficiary agencies in Manhattan and the Bronx.

If anyone wanted to see and participate in this work firsthand, Krakaur offered that attendees and their families could “help serve a festive Purim meal at Manhattan’s only kosher soup kitchen, Project ORE — a meal that will be financed with the money saved by not serving a formal dinner tonight and will serve Project Ore’s neediest Jewish and non-Jewish clients.”

Teaching Generosity

Keith Krakaur
Keith Krakaur, chair of UJA-Federation’s Lawyer’s Division, introducing Jeffrey Toobin.

Berkovich talked to the attendees about the opportunities she’s already had to witness the impact UJA-Federation can make. She recently gave birth to a son, and she said that generosity was a value she wanted to be sure to pass on to him. When he’s older, she said she envisioned him asking why she made her largest charitable contributions to UJA-Federation, out of all the possible nonprofits.

She explained, “Giving to UJA-Federation is like giving to hundreds of different charities that do great work. Like most of us, I don’t have the time or expertise to conduct due diligence on every Jewish organization and every Jewish need. I let UJA-Federation do that for me.”

The event would not have been possible without the help of the event chairs Sandra C. Goldstein, Marcia L. Goldstein, Gary T. Holtzer, and Donald J. Rosenberg, said Chesler.

After the presentation of the awards, the evening continued with the Young Lawyers After Dark event, which included a silent auction, and a chance to converse with Toobin.