Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Holds 50th Anniversary Tribute Gala

President George W. Bush Delivers Surprise Address Gala Honors Past Board Members and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein
New York, NY

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Fund held a gala dinner tonight to celebrate five decades of leadership and achievement, honoring past Conference chairs whose vision, dedication, and skilled diplomacy elevated the Conference of Presidents to the forefront of American Jewish life over the past two decades. The gala was held at The Waldorf=Astoria New York. President George W. Bush closed out the evening with a surprise keynote address.

The Honorable Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General, addressed the gala, which was attended by 1,200 distinguished guests including many Ambassadors, officials, and guests from Europe, South America, Asia and Africa, and prominent personalities from every sector of American Society. The UN Secretary General announced his plan to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in the near future.

The program opened with video messages from President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that stressed the importance of the Conference of Presidents in both national and international affairs. Special guests Raul de Molina, Univision’s Emmy award winning co-host of El Gordo y la Flaca, and Holly Robinson Peete, actress, offered reflections on their trips to Israel with the Conference of Presidents’ “America’s Voices in Israel” program.

Among those offering brief toasts expressing their appreciation for the work of the Conference of Presidents across the diverse and prominent crowd were the former Chief Rabbi of Syria Rabbi Avraham Hamra, a leader of the Egyptian Coptic community, former Deputy Prime Minister of Iran Mohsen Sazegara ; Pastor John Hagee (Founder of Christians United for Israel), Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance,  the Ambassador-at-Large and head of the Moroccan Jewish community, Serge Berdugo, and the Ambassador of Russia to the United States, Sergei Kislyak.

The chairmen of the Presidents Conference from the past twenty years were recognized for their dedication to the Conference of Presidents with the Strength through Unity award. Melvin Salberg was presented by former Canadian Minister of Justice and Member of Parliament, Honorable Irwin Cotler; Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder by former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton,  who proposed the Conference receive the next Nobel Peace Prize; Mortimer B. Zuckerman by Undersecretary of the United Nations and Chair of the Peace Institute Terje Roed-LarsenJames S. Tisch by former US Senator Joseph LiebermanHarold Tanner by ranking House Foreign Relations member Congressman Eliot EngelAlan Solow by Counsel General of Israel, Ambassador Ido Aharoni; and Richard B. Stone by the new Israeli Ambassador to the US, Ambassador Ron Dermer. The evening ended with a moving rendition of both the American and Israeli national anthems, led by Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot of Park East Synagogue.

A special tribute was paid to Malcolm Hoenlein for his contributions to the Conference as Executive Vice President of the Conference of Presidents since June 1986. He was presented his Strength Through Unity by several of his grandchildren as other presenters cited Mr. Hoenlein's essential role in international relations, Israel and Middle East affairs, Soviet and World Jewry, terrorism, the American Jewish community, and intergroup relations.

The following individuals were honored for their past service as Chairmen of the Board at the gala:

Melvin Salberg served as chairman from 1997-1999. Mr. Salberg works as Senior Counsel in the labor and employment law group of Anderson Kill's New York City office. Mr. Salberg has served as management's chief spokesman and strategy advisor in union-management collective bargaining. Mr. Salberg acts as senior labor counsel to major employers in the paper and pulp, cement, electronics, publishing, communications, garment and other manufacturing and service industries, as well as not-for-profit institutions.

Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder served as chairman from 1999-2001. Ambassador Lauder was the United States ambassador to Austria from 1986 to 1987 and deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO affairs from 1983 to 1986. He now chairs Clinique Laboratories. Amb. Lauder has served as President of the World Jewish Congress since June 2007.

Mortimer B. Zuckerman served as chairman from 2001-2003. Zuckerman is the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Boston Properties, one of the largest real estate investment trusts in the United States. Zuckerman is also the owner and publisher of the New York Daily News and of U.S. News and World Report, where he is editor-in-chief.

James S. Tisch served as chairman from 2003-2005. Since 1998, Mr. Tisch has been the president and CEO of Loews Corporation. Mr. Tisch is a chairman of WNET. He formerly served as director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He also sits on the boards of the New York Public Library, Mount Sinai Medical Center, and the Partnership for New York City, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Harold Tanner served as chairman from 2005-2007. Harold Tanner is president of Tanner & Co., Inc., a private investment banking firm he founded in New York City in 1987. Mr. Tanner has been a member of Cornell University’s Board of Trustees since 1982 and serves as President of the American Jewish Committee, a Trustee of the Revson Foundation and Classroom, Inc., and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a founder of the Volunteer Consulting Group, Inc.

June Walker served as chairwoman from 2007-2008. She was also a member of AIPAC's Executive Committee. Until July 2007, she was the national president of Hadassah. She was the director of In-Service Education for Pulmonary Medicine at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital and was a member of the Citizens Committee for Bio-Medical Ethics, the American Red Cross, and the American Lung Association. President George W. Bush appointed Walker to serve on the Honorary Delegation to accompany him to Jerusalem for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel in May 2008.

Alan P. Solow served as chairman from 2009-2011. He is a partner at DLA Piper's bankruptcy group based in Chicago. A widely published author and frequent lecturer, Mr. Solow has been honored for his contributions to the bankruptcy and insolvency field through the election by his peers as a Fellow in the American College of Bankruptcy. He is a past chair of the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America.

Richard B. Stone served as chairman from 2011-2013. He is a professor of law at Columbia University, where he has held the Wilbur Friedman Chair in Tax Law since 1991. He serves as a Managing Director of Sunrise Securities Corporation. Prof. Stone was appointed assistant solicitor general of the United States and serves as the Chairman of the Board at Espro Acoustiguide Group. He has been a Director of Ecora Software Corporation since December 1994.

A special tribute was paid to Malcolm Hoenlein for his contributions to the Conference. He has served as Executive Vice President of the Conference of Presidents since June 1986.  A National Defense Fellow in the University’s Near East Center, Mr. Hoenlein served as a Middle East specialist at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He has written and lectured across the US and abroad on international relations, Israel and Middle East affairs, Soviet and World Jewry, terrorism, the American Jewish community, and intergroup relations. He played a key role in organizing the massive National Solidarity Rally for Israel in Washington, DC. Mr. Hoenlein was the recipient of the Private Sector Initiative Award from President Ronald Reagan.

Keynote speaker President George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States of America, served two terms from 2001 to 2009. Previously, he was the 46th Governor of Texas. President Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, was published in November 2010. President Bush remains actively involved in issues of national and global concern through the George W. Bush Institute.

For media relations, please contact Rachel Reichblum ([email protected] / 212-776-1160) of Hiltzik Strategies.


Former President George W. Bush, following his address to the Fiftieth Anniversary Tribute Gala Dinner of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Fund at the Waldorf=Astoria. More than 1200 people from around the world heard messages from President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, and witnessed the presentation of the “Strength Through Unity” awards to past chairmen Melvin Salberg, Amb. Ronald S. Lauder, Mortimer B. Zuckerman, James S. Tisch, Harold Tanner, Alan Solow, Richard B. Stone, and the late June Walker, and to Malcolm Hoenlein on his more than 25 years at the helm of the Conference. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was another featured speaker along with an array of international leaders who praised the work of the Conference and cited its prominent role in American and world affairs. Seen (left to right) are Malcolm Hoenlein, President George Bush, Robert G. Sugarman, and Melvin Salberg.


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Fund’s Fiftieth Anniversary Tribute Gala Dinner. In the background are the honorees, including Melvin Salberg, Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder, Mortimer B, Zuckerman, James S. Tisch, Harold Tanner, Alan Solow, Richard B. Stone, past chairmen of the Conference, Kenneth J. Bialkin, Seymour Reich, Shoshana S. Cardin, and Julius Berman, and Conference Chairman Robert G. Sugarman and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein.


CONFERENCE OF PRESIDENTS OF MAJOR AMERICAN JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS is a non-profit organization that addresses issues of critical concern to the Jewish community. It comprises 51 national Jewish organizations. For half a century, the Conference of Presidents has played a key role in American and world Jewish history. From mass public events to private diplomacy, the Conference has been in the forefront of mobilizing support for Israel and educating the public in times of war and conflict, and in the pursuit of peace. Today, the Conference of Presidents remains American Jewry’s recognized address for consensus policy, collective action, and maximizing the resources of the American Jewish community. When events in the U.S., Israel and elsewhere affect the American Jewish community, the Conference of Presidents take the lead to explain and analyze issues, provide a link between American Jewry and the U.S. government, and marshal a coordinated community response.

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