Abby Joseph Cohen speaks to Cornell Jewish alumni in New York.
By Julia Levy
Sometimes, breakfast is a meal that Stefanie Rennert skips. On the morning of Thursday, March 22, however, breakfast was the most anticipated event of the 2004 Cornell alumna’s day. Along with 25 fellow young Cornell Jewish alumni, Rennert, of Nickelodeon Preschool Television, attended the second “Power Breakfast “hosted by Andrew Tisch, '71, Trustee of Cornell University and Chairman of the Executive Committee of Loews Corporation, at the Regency Hotel in New York City.
The speaker that morning was Abby Joseph Cohen, '73, managing director at Goldman, Sachs, and Co., trustee emerita and presidential councilor at Cornell University, trustee of the Jewish Theological Seminary, and a member of the board of governors of Hillel International. The breakfast was accompanied by her stimulating analysis of the present state of the global economy. In addition, she spoke passionately about the rewards of maintaining a balance between work and commitment to Jewish and communal causes. “I was delighted to meet with the young alumni. They may have come mainly for an update on the economic and financial market outlook, but they were even more engaged in the discussion on being involved in their communities and broader civic responsibilities," said Cohen.
Established by Andrew Tisch, on behalf of Cornell Hillel, the breakfast was the second in a series which began in December 2006. “I sought to create an opportunity for recent Jewish Cornell graduates to stay engaged as young alumni,” explained Tisch.
The inaugural breakfast in December featured Harold Tanner, '52, the present chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, president of the investment advisory firm Tanner & Co., Inc and chairman emeritus of the Board of Trustees of Cornell University.
The young alumni who attended both breakfasts were alumni of Cornell from the graduating classes of 1998 through 2006. "It was inspiring to listen to these distinguished Jewish Cornellians who are leaders in their respective business and philanthropic fields,” said Rennert.
Attended by young alumni from a broad spectrum of career fields, including media, finance, nonprofit, and politics, the breakfast offered an opportunity to also network with peers. “Because of the breakfast, I now feel an added sense of community in New York City,” said Adam Berman, '03, an analyst with Vicis Capital, was a member of Cornell Hillel's Jewish a cappella group “Chai Notes” as a student. “It enabled me to reconnect with fellow alumni, including Itai Dinour, '01, co-executive director of City Year. Following the event, I sought out his advice on where to donate proceeds for a race that I am running in May.”
The breakfast was organized by the Cornell Jewish Connection (CJC), an initiative of Cornell Hillel which offers innovative social, cultural and networking opportunities for young Cornell Jewish graduates and is led by a 10-person committee. Active since January 2006, CJC programs have included attending an audience taping of “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Apprentice” screening parties at the Trump Towers Bar to cheer for alumnus Lee Bienstock, '05, shabbat dinners with the Weil Cornell Medical College's Jewish Student Association and Ivy League Schools and an upcoming launch of Israel's Baseball League.
“The CJC is an effort to help our recent graduates transition from campus to community, personally, professionally and Jewishly, while also maintaining a connection to Cornell Hillel,” explained Executive Director and Campus Rabbi Ed Rosenthal.
Julia Levy graduated from Cornell in 2005. She serves as a trustee on the Cornell Hillel Board.