WeWork’s Neumann on disconnecting for Shabbat

SCENE LAST NIGHT — More than 2,000 people filled up the grand ballroom at the Hilton New York Midtown for the annual dinner hosted by the UJA-Federation of New York’s Wall Street and Financial Services Division. This year’s honorees included Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon and Anton Levy, managing director and global head of technology at General Atlantic. The fundraising dinner, emceed by former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, raised a record $31 million, exceeding last year’s $29 million.

HIGHLIGHTS — WeWork co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann delivered the evening’s keynote address. In his remarks, Neumann recalled observing the Sabbath for the first time while in Crown Heights not too long ago: “The most amazing thing that happened to me is the next day, I went to work and suddenly the thoughts [regarding ego and others] weren’t coming up. I was looking at everyone around me and I can tell that we’re all people and we’re all in this together, and God gave some of us more blessings than the other, and you can never judge or measure where other people are at. And for the whole week, I was feeling really good. Until about Thursday, when those thoughts started coming back again, and I was judging again. And I said, ‘Wow, this Shabbat thing is amazing, but it only lasts for about five days. You gotta do it again.’”

“It’s never been more relevant than today as technology takes over our lives,” Neumann continued. “The average human being will look at his phone 160 times a day. And I know it’s good for business, but we’re addicted to the phone. And then comes Shabbat and we disconnect from technology, you connect to your children, you connect to your loved ones and friends, and you connect to something greater than yourself. You suddenly remember why you are here and what it is all about… When you’re disconnected from your soul, when you’re disconnected from the people around you, you cannot be happy. You cannot be fulfilled.”

David Solomon in his remarks after receiving the Gustave L. Levy Award: “While the history of our people is one of overcoming hardship, this has not been an easy time, to say the very least. I know that every person in this room was truly shaken when they learned about the shooting in Pittsburgh. But even before that, the events in Charlottesville last summer, and recent acts right here in New York City, make it clear that those with hatred in their hearts are somehow feeling emboldened. Well, I feel emboldened to be with all of you tonight and simply say that anti-Semitism or hatred of any kind for that matter has no place in our city, has no place in our country, and has no place in the world.”

SPOTTED: Gary Cohn, Andrew Ross Sorkin, John Paulson, Adam Braun, Eric Goldstein, Robert Kapito, Ben Golub, Daniel Och, Paul Taubman, Morris Offit, John Shapiro, Joseph Shenker, James Tisch, Ari Ackerman, Suzy Appelbaum, Carly Maisel, Tamar Remz, Ben Stein, Daniel Fine, Alex Swieca, Corey Dicker, Fred Bloch, Hannah Rosenwein, and Jeffrey Goldenberg.

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.