Change the World

Wall Street raises $26M for one night

(left to right) Jacques (Jack) Brand, CEO, Deutsche Bank North America, and the Gustave L. Levy Award recipient; John Paulson, president, Paulson & Co. Inc.; Brett H. Barth, managing partner, BBR Partners, LLC, and the Alan C. Greenberg Young Leadership Award recipient; and Robert S. Kapito, president, BlackRock, and chair, UJA-Federation of New York’s Wall Street & Financial Services Division.
Source: UJA-Federation of New York.

The New York financial community raised more than $26 million for Jewish causes in one of the single largest charity events of the year.

The UJA-Federation's annual Wall Street Dinner in Manhattan sold out with 1,700 people in attendance. Some of the most important names in hedge funds were there, including managers Larry Robbins, Dan Och, Steve Tananbaum and John Paulson.

Other bold-faced names seated on stage during the gala included Rob Kapito of asset manager BlackRock, Rob Speyer of Tishman Speyer Properties and James Tisch of hotel, financial and energy company Loews. Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs was a dinner chair but did appear to attend.

The event raised roughly the same amount as the dinner in 2013. Few charity events net more in a single night, with the exception of the Robin Hood Foundation's annual gala, which pulled in $60 million in May.

Read MoreRobin Hood donors raise $60 million at annual gala

Billionaire hedge fund manager Paulson announced a $1.25 million pledge during the UJA event to encourage additional giving. Och-Ziff Capital Management's Och and his wife, Jane, also offered up to $2 million in matching donations.

"We're here to make sure that no Jew anywhere in the world, ever, is alone," Och said before the crowd in a Hilton ballroom.

In a keynote address, retired Gen. David Petraeus, now chairman of the KKR Global Institute, talked about the relationship between the U.S. and Israel.

"It's always been important, it remains important and may be even more important given the threats that exist in Israel's neighborhood," Petraeus said.

He added that the greatest threats facing Israel are the Iranian nuclear program, challenges in Jerusalem, and the boycott, divestment and sanctions or "BDS" movement. On BDS, he said it causes "a lot of concern," particularly from some European countries—even if it's a relative nonissue from the U.S.

Viral philanthropy business model

Read MoreLarry Fink: Wall Street needs to help society

The top honoree of the evening was Jacques Brand, CEO of Deutsche Bank in North America, who was also given the Gustave L. Levy Award. Brett Barth of multifamily office BBR Partners also received the inaugural Alan C. Greenberg Young Leadership Award, which honored former Bear Stearns CEO Alan C. "Ace" Greenberg, a longtime UJA supporter who died in July.

UJA was founded as the United Jewish Alliance nearly a century ago. More than 55,000 donors pool their resources through UJA-Federation, according to the group, touching 4.5 million Jews and non-Jews alike through nearly 100 network beneficiary agencies, synagogues and other Jewish organizations.