Awards gala

This year's Awards Gala will take place Sunday, March 17, 2019. 4:45 pm, B25 Warren Hall. .

Reception, dinner, followed by special guest speakers, recognition of Sermon Contest participants and presentation of contest winner.

The event will conclude by 8:00 pm. 

All contest participants will receive an invitation to the Awards Gala. 

The contest winner will give their winning sermon at the Gala, so they should bring all the material they need to give the sermon to the Gala.  The winner will not know who they are until the public announcement at the Gala, so all contestants should be prepare to give their sermon.

First Prize: $1800 and private tour of The Explorer’s Club in New York City

Second Prize: Cornell gift item and private tour of The Explorer’s Club in New York City

Third Prize: Cornell gift item

Keynote Speaker


David Wilcox served as Director of the Division of Research and Statistics at the Federal Reserve Board from October 2011 through December 2018.  Research and Statistics collaborates with other divisions at the Board in providing an economic and financial outlook to the Federal Open Market Committee prior to each of its policy-setting meetings.  R&S also supports the Federal Reserve’s program to promote financial stability and conduct financial supervision. The division also has extensive programs in economic measurement, and it maintains an active research agenda research.  Wilcox served as Deputy Director in R&S from 2001 to 2011. In that role, he helped to coordinate the Federal Reserve’s policy response to the financial crisis. From 1997 to 2001, Wilcox served at the Department of the Treasury as Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy, where he contributed to the Department’s efforts on a wide set of domestic economic issues, including Social Security and Medicare policy.  Before his appointment to the Treasury Department, Wilcox was a staff economist at the Federal Reserve Board. During 1994 and 1995, he was detailed to serve as a senior economist on the staff of the Council of Economic Advisers. He has published articles in scholarly journals and other outlets on topics including monetary policy, fiscal policy, household spending and saving behavior, economic forecasting at the Federal Reserve, economic measurement, and pension economics.  Wilcox received a doctoral degree in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Williams College. Wilcox lives in the Washington area with his wife Melynda. Their daughters Amanda and Laura are now students in college.

Bloomberg News


Previous Awards and Honorees

2019: in tribute to Professor Uri Meir Posen 1942-2017

Macroeconomist, Chair Cornell University Department of Economics, Advisor to Young Israel and Center for Jewish Living at Cornell

Grand Prize: Elizabeth Latham, A&S ‘20

2nd Place: Vijayen “VJ” Satish, HE ‘19

3rd Place: Nicholas Heisler, A&S ‘19

Invited Speakers: 

  • Rabbi David Saperstein ‘67, Director, Religious Action Center Reform Judaism
    & son of Harold I. Saperstein ‘31

  • Sara Frug, Granddaughter of Harold Saperstein ‘31, Associate Director, Legal Information Institute at Cornell

  • David Wilcox, Economist, Retired Director of the Division of Research and Statistics in Washington, 2011-2018.

  • John Steele Gordon, Historian, author of “Hamilton’s Blessing: The Extraordinary Life and Times of our National Debt.”

  • Thomas J. Walcott, Chaplain, USN Coast Guard.

View photos from the 2019 Gala >

View photos from the 2018 Gala >

View photos from the 2017 Gala >

View photos from the 2015 Gala >

The 2014 Gala Dinner

The 2014 Gala Dinner

2014: in tribute to Hon. Raymond ("Ray") Reisler '27

Grand Prize: Kirat Singh, A&S '14

2nd Place: Joshua Polevoy, ILR ’14

3rd Place: Christine Yu, ILR ’14

Invited Speakers: 

  • Rabbi David Saperstein ‘67, Director, Religious Action Center Reform Judaism
    & son of Harold I. Saperstein ‘31

  • Brian Earle ‘67, Professor Emeritus, Communication CALS

  • Andrew Ahitow, Supreme Prior, Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity

  • Rear Admiral Margaret Grun Kibben, CHC, USM
    Chief Chaplain of US Marine Corps. and the first female chaplain to hold this post.

  • Alan H. Nichols, JD, DS, President of the Explorers Club
    A noted explorer in Tibet, China and the world’s sacred mountains, Mr. Nichols spoke on the theme of “Justice in Exploration”.

  • Hon. Katrina Lantos-Swett, Vice Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, as well as the Founder and President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice. Dr. Lantos-Swett spoke about religious freedom.

  • Dr. Tevi Troy, ‘89, A top Washington insider and Presidential historian, Dr. Tevi Troy ‘89 elaborated on a recent Wall Street Journal article, showing how Abraham Lincoln’s diligent reading of the bible informed the Gettysburg Address.

  • Dr. Raymond Reisler ‘68, MA ‘70, Ed.D
    Son of Ray Reisler ‘27 & former Executive Director of the S. Mark Taper Foundation

View photos from the 2014 Gala >

2013: in tribute to Hon. Sol M. Linowitz, J.D. '38

Grand Prize: Darrick Evensen, PhDc

Darrick Evensen's winning sermon applied halakhic inspiration to the contemporary hydraulic fracturing controversy.

Invited Speaker: David Schribman

Executive Editor, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

View photos from the 2013 Gala >

2012: in tribute to Milton R. Konvitz

Read full coverage in the The Jewish Week.

Grand Prize: Sarah Victor (ILR '13)

Sarah Victor's winning sermon related the dedication of America's founders to the biblical heroine Esther, seamlessly integrating contest themes.

Invited Speaker: Dr. Alfred C. Snider

Dr. Snider spoke about sermons as an example of replacing weapons with words.

View photos from 2012  >

2011: in tribute to Harold I. Saperstein '31

Grand Prize: Matthew Scheff (ENG '12)

Matthew Scheff delivered his sermon on the concept of love in holy scripture and the Jewish tradition, centered on a reading from Shir Hashirim, also known as Song of Songs, or Song of Solomon.

View more photos from 2011  >