REX Gala Honors Alfonso Kimche’s Dedication

If seeing is believing, it’s clear why Alfonso Kimche is such a strong believer in the work of UJA-Federation. From Buenos Aires to Havana to post-Katrina New Orleans, Kimche, who received the Larry A. Silverstein REX Award at UJA-Federation’s Real Estate Executives (REX) annual gala this year, has been around the world on missions to experience UJA-Federation’s work firsthand.

REX Gala leadership 2013

From left to right: Lloyd Goldman, Real Estate Division chair; Larry A. Silverstein, namesake and presenter of the award; Alfonso Kimche, REX honoree; Lee Deutsch, REX Chair; Jeffrey Stern, UJA-Federation campaign chair. Credit: Chloe Apple Seldman / Michael Priest Photography

“But you don’t have to get on a plane to witness UJA-Federation’s impact,” Kimche told more than 450 real estate leaders at the Grand Hyatt New York in Manhattan on March 13th. Just last month, he said, he and his wife volunteered at a Lower East Side community center for low-income seniors. As they served the seniors dinner and joined them for festive dancing, “we saw firsthand the joy on their faces as they enjoyed a rare night of entertainment.”

Michael Schonbraun, the co-chair of the gala, which brought the amount of money raised by the REX Division to more than $600,000, introduced Kimche and said it was particularly fitting that he received the award named for Larry Silverstein. “[Alfonso’s] characteristics and accomplishments reflect Larry Silverstein’s so well: his passion for creating a strong foundation of leadership, his deep awareness of generational impact, and his commitment to ensuring that people receive the help they need,” said Schonbraun.

A Place to Make Connections

And events like the REX gala are the perfect place for forging connections with people who share your values, according to Lloyd Goldman, Real Estate Division chair. “It’s probably at an event like this that I met Larry Silverstein as a mentor,” he said. “There are many people that you meet [here] that you want to work with.”

Finally, Silverstein himself presented the award to Kimche, in the process sharing his recollections of a UJA-Federation mission he participated in years ago, when he stood on the tarmac of the airport in Tel Aviv at five o’clock in the morning and watched newly rescued Ethiopian Jews step off the plane and onto the soil of their adoptive homeland.

REX Gala Leadership

From left to right: Vladimir Shneyder, REX Gala co-chair; Alfonso Kimche, REX honoree; Michael Schonbraun, REX Gala co-chair. Credit: Chloe Apple Seldman / Michael Priest Photography

“If not for all of us at UJA-Federation who got together to do something that was extraordinary, it would never have happened. And so, this organization, I love it for what it’s accomplished,” he said. “The only reason we can do this is because of what each of you are doing, have done, and will continue to do.”

The gala and its success wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of many lay people, including Lee Deutsch, REX chair; William Friedland, REX vice chair; and the entire REX Steering and Event Committees.

Kimche ended by laying out the benefits he’s reaped from his involvement with UJA-Federation. “If you’re thinking of getting more actively involved, I can’t encourage you enough,” he said. “You will have eye-opening experiences, you will make meaningful new friendships, you will get so much out of your involvement with UJA-Federation that you will begin to wonder whether you are the one doing the giving or the receiving. At least that’s how I feel.”

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