One of UJA-Federation of New York’s major fundraisers, the charity’s annual Wall Street dinner, raised $19.5 million last week for its network of more than 100 social-service agencies. At the dinner, held Dec. 15 at the Hilton New York, more than 1,100 financial professionals, prominent business leaders, and philanthropists honored Peter W. May, president and founding partner of Trian Fund Management, and Michael B. Nierenberg, managing director of Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
The dinner, which featured a keynote speech by celebrated Soviet refusenik and Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, celebrated the 20th anniversary of Operation Exodus, which brought nearly 1 million oppressed Jews from the former Soviet Union to freedom in Israel and the United States.
“Tonight, we recall and celebrate Operation Exodus, which enabled 1 million Jews in the former Soviet Union to establish new lives in freedom,” said John S. Ruskay, the charity’s CEO and executive vice president. “They have shaped Israel and the other countries, including New York City, where they now reside. And tonight we honor two exceptional leaders, Peter May and Michael Nierenberg, who were instrumental in making this happen, demonstrating yet again that individuals can shape history.”
May, who 20 years ago was chair of UJA-Federation’s Operation Exodus campaign, received the Gustave L. Levy Award. Under his leadership, the New York Jewish community raised $177.5 million, nearly 20 percent of the funds raised for the nationwide Operation Exodus campaign.
Nierenberg received the Young Leadership Award for commitment to the community and continued generosity to UJA-Federation. During Operation Exodus, Nierenberg, then working at Lehman Brothers, was among a group of colleagues who sponsored a plane from the FSU to Israel.