Ample comic relief came from comedian and radio and TV personality Steve Harvey, a surprise choice as master of ceremonies. "Obviously, Jerry Seinfeld wasn't available," said Harvey. "I have no idea why you chose me. There are cool drops of sweat running down my behind....This ain't my gig. This isn't my crowd. And I'm not getting paid. That makes it all the more painful."
Ron Frasch, president and chief merchandising officer of Saks Fifth Avenue, and one of the three honorees, had a touch of humor, too. "Everybody in the store has been teasing me how a 'goy' could get this award. It's really an award about giving. I am so humbled how everyone in this room has helped make this event so special. There is not an industry in the world that is so generous."
Frasch, Morris Goldfarb, chairman and chief executive officer at G-III Apparel Group Ltd., and Frank H. Wolf, president and ceo of Wearwolf Group Ltd., received the UJA-Federation's Philanthropy Award from the organization's men's wear division, chaired by Melvin Goldfeder, senior vice president of Swank, a men's accessories firm licensed to distribute products under such names as Steve Harvey and Kenneth Cole.
"I always believed that if you surrounded yourself with good people, good things happen," said Goldfarb. "It's not all about business. It's about the need to accomplish deeds."
Among the crowd of 800 were John Pomerantz, Marty Staff, Kenneth Cole, John Idol, Robert Bronstein, Cece Kieselstein-Cord and Elie Tahari who said, "The Elie Tahari men's collection has been sold at Saks since we launched the line two years ago. Ron has been one of the most supportive merchants in the industry and it's a great privilege for us to be here and honor him." The event supported the UJA-Federation's network of 102 human service agencies in New York, Israel and 60 other countries.
On the same day, designers Lela Rose and Reem Acra took time out from preparing for this week's bridal shows to join other women from the fashion and media crowd at The Jewish Women's Foundation of New York luncheon at The Pierre. Honorees were Jane Weitzman of Stuart Weitzman LLC; Darcy Miller Nussbaum, weddings editorial director, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.; Annette Insdorf, director of Undergraduate Film Studies at Columbia University, and art collector Melva Bucksbaum. Included in the crowd were Kate and Andy Spade, Dylan Lauren, Anne Keating, Yildiz Blackstone, Blair Bartell and Anne Waterman. The event raised $262,000 for educational grants supporting medical and social causes.