Saba Capital Management LP founder Boaz Weinstein’s wife, Tali, looked up at her husband on the dais.
“Fix your flower,” she told him of the white rose on his lapel, sloping downward.
“Don’t worry,” said Bill Ackman, founder of Pershing Square Group LLC. “I’ll take care of it.”
A moment later the ballroom was dark and the UJA-Federation of New York Wall Street Dinner had begun.
In the room last night were 1,500 guests, a record number of attendees, who raised $23 million to fund more than 100 agencies in New York and Israel.
Almost 50 big donors were seated on a dual-level platform at the front of the ballroom of the New York Hilton, among them Alan “Ace” Greenberg, flanked by Scott Shleifer of Tiger Global Management LLC and John Paulson of Paulson & Co.; Bruce Richards of Marathon Asset Management LP; and Ivanka Trump, who doesn’t work in finance. No one complained.
“On the dais, it feels like an obligation to stand up and be seen,” said Alex Ehrlich, a managing director at Morgan Stanley. “Frankly, you’d rather not have attention called to yourself, but you want to set an example.”
Further thrust into the spotlight: Weinstein, who received the Wall Street Young Leadership Award, and Robert Kapito, president of BlackRock Inc., who received the Gustave L. Levy Award.
Speeches noted both men’s commitment to the community; only Kapito’s wife, Ellen, an oncology nurse, addressed his culinary prowess.
“He even grows the wheat,” she said in an interview. “I do the sides, he likes to do the main dishes. And he uses all the pots and pans.”
At the event, Paulson supped on roast beef and chicken and Israeli salad; Kapito’s daughter Shira filled up on sushi; her boyfriend of a year liked the Tater Tots.
The program included a celebration of the third night of Chanukah.
“It’s not that often you get to sing ‘Maoz Tzur’ with 1,500 Jews,” Rabbi Angela Buchdahl said before starting the song known in English as “Rock of Ages.”
Daniel Och, chief executive of Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC, received an unwrapped Chanukah present from a guest: a DVD copy of “Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story,” a film about an Israeli army commander in Operation Entebbe.
Och, senior chairman of the UJA’s investment-management division, said the UJA has made strides in “connecting donors to where the dollars go” and “creating smaller groups where everyone matters and gets to express what’s important to them.”
Greenberg, a legendary figure at the event, acknowledged that writing a check to charity “is a personal choice. Give it to dogs.” He said he gives to UJA because it “takes care of people of all ages -- little people, old people, sick people.”
UJA has designated $10 million for Sandy relief.
Trump said her company has been sending supplies to help hurricane victims in the Rockaways, including bottles of shampoo.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include Laurie Muchnick on books, Catherine Hickley on art.