On November 14, more than 300 guests gathered at Manhattan's Prince George Ballroom for the HIAS Awards, the organization's first major celebration dinner since 2001. Honorees included Regina Spektor, the singer, songwriter and pianist, who was resettled in the United States by HIAS; Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer, media personality and author and a refugee from Nazi Germany; and Jones Day, the international law firm that provides pro bono support to HIAS clients.
The gathering, "A Night for Hope & Welcome" was co-chaired by Ed and Barbara Shapiro, who lead The Shapiro Foundation, with Caryn Seidman-Becker, CEO of CLEAR, the biometric technology company, and Marc Becker, a Senior Partner at Apollo Global Management. The honorees were introduced by Anwar Khan, president of the humanitarian organization Islamic Relief USA, which partners with HIAS in Greece; Elisha Wiesel, the son of activist and Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel; and actress and producer Alysia Reiner.
“Tonight we resume a longstanding HIAS tradition, begun in 1966 when President Harry S. Truman received our first annual “Liberty Award,” honoring individuals who personify the HIAS mission of welcoming the stranger and protecting the refugee,” HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield said at the event. “In the decades since, the global refugee crisis has dramatically worsened. What’s remained the same is the commitment that HIAS supporters, and former clients, have for welcoming the stranger. We are so grateful to Ms. Spektor, Dr. Ruth, and our colleagues at Jones Day for their incredible partnership and their advocacy.”
Regina Spektor performed a special acapella version of “Shalom Aleichem,” a traditional Sabbath welcome song, to close out the evening. After the event, Spektor said on Instagram:
Hi friends! Yesterday was a tremendously special event in my life. I received an award from the organization @hiasrefugees- an organization that helped me and @jackdishel's families come to the USA. They have helped immigrants and refugees from all over for close to 140 years. They work tirelessly on behalf of people who are vulnerable and in need. @askdrruthfilm who is awesome and outspoken also got an award. She said if you donate at this link today and tomorrow you will be guaranteed an awesome sex life for the rest of your days! Seems like a win win! Please donate- a lot or a little- anything is helpful! It all matters and makes a difference! Here’s the link and we’ll put it in my bio as well! hias.org/donate . I want to extend an extra giant Thank You to @AlysiaReiner for her activism, beauty and friendship- and for being there to present me with this amazing award! Oh and I LOVE my @CynthiaRowley dress! It was sparkly and lovely!!! Thank you to my family and friends for being there and to HIAS for all you have done and continue to do! . Have an awesome weekend, take care and be safe and happy and healthy! Xoxo regi