NEW YORK — The UJA-Federation of New York, the largest of the more than 150 North American Jewish federations, raised an unprecedented $23 million in its annual Wall Street fundraiser, the organization announced Tuesday.
John Ruskay, the federation’s CEO, called the donations “an unshakable foundation for our community,” and said it made possible the federation’s relief work in response to the dual challenges of Hurricane Sandy and Hamas rocket attacks in southern Israel.
The figure marks a strong recovery from the 2008 financial crisis. The American financial services industry, centered on New York’s financial district, was hard-hit in the crisis but continued to donate to many philanthropic causes that were dependent on Wall Street generosity.
From a high of $21.6 million raised at the federation fundraiser in 2007, the figure dropped to $18.8 million in 2008 — a fall that would have been far worse had some donors not stepped in to compensate for the drop in giving among those who had lost fortunes and jobs during the crisis. By 2009, donations were again above $19 million, and by 2011 the group posted a new high of $22 million.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered the keynote address at the event. He praised the federation’s relief work in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and, together with honoree Robert Kapito, the president of investment firm BlackRock, insisted it was the responsibility of Wall Street to care for those in need.
The evening’s 1,500 attendees included many of Wall Street’s top executives, including billionaire hedge fund manager and New York philanthropist John Paulson, Bloomberg chief executive Daniel Doctoroff, Morgan Stanley investment head Paul Taubman and former Bear Stearns chief executive Alan Greenberg.
Younger attendees said Monday the event had become a top-tier networking and even singles opportunity for young professionals in the financial services industry. And that’s no accident. Following the formal dinner, the federation hosted a casino-themed after-party that transformed an event hall at the Hilton into a spirited social gathering, with a bar, candy buffet, roulette and poker tables and hours of late-night socializing.