The UJA held its Banking and Finance Event honoring Jerry Levin on Tuesday June 21, 2016 at 6 PM at the Pierre Hotel. Levin was honored with "The Pillar of the Community Award" and is the "turnover king" helping to restructure companies for more than 40 years. He served as CEO of Revlon, Burger King and Haagen Dazs and is currently CEO of JW Levin Management Partners. Levin was chair of UJA's board from 2007 to 2010 and was its president from 2010 to 2013, and general campaign chair twice, helping to raise hundreds of millions of dollars. Prime Minister Netanyahu sent a letter commending Levin for his "outstanding work" for the state of Israel. We were also told that he loves the Yiddish Theatre and African American singer Elmore James was there to sing some of his favorites.
Raising more than $1 million for an honoree was no small feat, and CEO of UJA Eric Goldstein spoke of his admiration for Levin as a mentor thanking Levin for convincing him to move from volunteering to serving UJA in a professional capacity. Goldstein also jokingly acknowledged his "shy and demure" wife Carol and said their Hamptons home should be zoned a "community center" for continually hosting events for the synagogue.
One of those people entertained at the Levin's, Ido Aharoni, who Goldstein praised for his 25 years of service as Israel Consul General, is retiring and heading back to Israel this summer with Goldstein quipping his shoes will be hard to fill both literally and figuratively. Ido agreed, since he has a size 13 shoe, and praised Levin for being the "ultimate mensch" and for his brilliance, patience and ability to analyze complex situations while making little noise. Ido said Levin was a great insurance policy for the small state of Israel since he continually puts her on the top of his agenda. Aharoni was also hopeful that the Levins will continue to house him in the Hamptons even after his retirement, since he has few friends there. Levin then presented Ido with a watch and thanked him for his long commitment to Israel.
Somewhat unexpectedly, when Levin took to the podium, he said he had no message to give or improve upon but was there to give thanks first and foremost to his "bride" Carol who led him down a Jewish path without which he would not be involved in UJA.
He then thanked all the salmon who gave their life to UJA this year and jokingly referred to his outstanding career accomplishments including; a long lasting ColorStay lipstick and a Haagen Dazs ice cream bar-later confiding that he gained ten pounds while working there.
After 25 years of tireless work, Levin was confident that upon his retirement UJA would continue to be a model for nonprofits and possess a bright future. Reiterating Levin's optimism, Rabbi Marc Schneier, accompanied by girlfriend Simi Teitelbaum praised the Levins for their preoccupation with doing good for the Jewish people, and lauded the "indefatigable" Aharoni for his passionate embrace of all things Jewish. At the conclusion of the evening, we were treated to Cantor Hershtik's rendition of "Jerusalem of Gold"- a golden conclusion to a meaningful evening.