(photo credit: Courtesy)
The New York-based Ronald S. Lauder is in many ways the leader of world Jewry. International philanthropist, investor, art collector and former US ambassador to Austria, Lauder has excelled as president of the World Jewish Congress, a position he has held since June 2007.
On June 14, he was presented with Bar-Ilan University’s Ingeborg Rennert Center Guardian of Zion Award at the King David Hotel. The award coincided with the 80th anniversary celebrations of the WJC, which considers itself “the diplomatic arm of the Jewish people,” representing and advocating for Jewish communities and organizations around the world.
No one does this better than the charismatic Lauder.
In his speech, entitled “The Future of the Jewish People,” Lauder said that for Jews today facing a new wave of antisemitism and anti-Zionism, “our destiny is in our own hands.”
The World Jewish Congress has come a long way since its founding in 1936, Lauder said, from the days when it had to turn to the world for help. But now, he pointed out, “the era of the quiet Jew is over.”
He ended his speech with a plea: “This is the job before us now. We have to help our children and our grandchildren dust off their hearts, we have to help them rediscover that Jewish flame inside them. This isn’t just important for Jews, it’s important for everyone, Jews and gentiles, because for over 5,000 years, that flame has been lighting the entire world.”
In 1997, Lauder was elected president of the Jewish National Fund, and after a successful 10-year tenure became chairman of the board. His passion for art and his commitment to justice led him to create and head the Committee for Art Recovery that has helped establish international laws to recover art stolen by the Nazis, and he was behind the recovery of an iconic portrait by Gustav Klimt dramatized in the 2015 film, The Woman in Gold
As president of the WJC, Lauder has met with numerous heads of state, prime ministers and government representatives in advancing those causes that are of highest concern to Jews and Jewish communities internationally. He recently met with over 30 world leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting. Lauder firmly believes in the importance of supporting Israel, while encouraging and aiding the development of vibrant Jewish communities around the world.The Jerusalem Post
columnist Isi Leibler wrote recently, “Ronald Lauder has emerged as a renaissance global Jewish lay leader... He has restored the WJC to its central leadership position in the Jewish world and deserves our appreciation..”