Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life conferred its Renaissance Award on The Limited Brands, Inc., founder and CEO Leslie H. Wexner at a gala event at New York’s Waldorf=Astoria Hotel. The event was attended by 600 and raised $1.5 million for Hillel programs.
The Renaissance award is presented annually to those individuals whose bold vision and transformative initiatives enrich the campus, the Jewish community and the world.
A member of Hillel's International Board of Governors, Wexner has provided critical support and counsel to Hillel as it has transformed itself to better serve students. He was the principal benefactor of the Wexner Jewish Student Center at The Ohio State University, built in 1996, and he remains an active supporter. In addition, the Wexner Foundation has created a cadre of well-trained leaders in North America and Israel.
“Les Wexner’s vision for the renaissance of the Jewish people was a reborn Hillel and a methodical approach to leadership development. He has succeeded in both of these objectives,” said Hillel President Wayne L. Firestone. “Hillel is blessed with many Wexner graduates among our professionals and lay leaders. They have enriched our Hillel movement with the gifts of their training, wisdom, and leadership. We are all indebted to Les Wexner and the staff of the Foundation for realizing this vision and for the incredible contribution they continue to make to the Jewish community.”
Hillel published a book of essays by graduates of Wexner Foundation programs that highlight Wexner’s contributions to the Jewish community. The book is available here:
Wexner essays (PDF File 2Mb)
[Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader version 4.0 or higher.]
Dinner Co-Chairman Neil Moss thanked Les Wexner and his wife Abigail for his mentorship and support. “As graduates of the very first Wexner Heritage class, my wife Karen and I have learned leadership at Les's feet. He has shown us how to integrate Jewish pride into our lives and how to pass that pride on to others. Tonight’s dinner is for us truly a labor of love,” Moss said. In addition to Neil and Karen Moss, other dinner co-chairs were Nina and Julian Sandler, Debbie and Jeffrey B. Swartz, Alfred and Judith Taubman, Raymond and Etta Zimmerman.
Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee, Ph.D., served as master of ceremonies for the event. Gee joked that as a “Mormon academic from Utah” he was an obvious choice to salute a fashion industry giant. He praised Wexner as “a true mentsh [good guy] who has always made me feel like a member of your extended mishpocheh [family].”
The centerpiece of the evening was a conversation between Wexner and David Gergen, a former presidential advisor and currently a professor of public service and the director of the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. A video of the conversation will be available on this Web site in early June.