Federation Honors Lewis Katz Following Plane Crash Death

Lewis Katz

Lewis Katz from 2013 Palm Beach County event.

BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Source: Jewish Federation) — The Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County is honored to announce the naming of its Business & Professional Division’s (B&P) Industry Icon series in memory of a preeminent icon of business and Jewish philanthropy. On December 16, 2015, almost exactly two years after Lewis Katz keynoted one of the Federation’s Icon events, his dear friend of more than 40 years, local Federation leader Betty Kane, announced that the series is now known as the “Lewis Katz Industry Icon Series.” A part-time resident of South Palm Beach County and a major donor to the local Federation, Katz tragically died in a plane crash just six months after his Icon appearance.

Kane spoke before a crowd of about 150 diverse entrepreneurs and professionals in Zinman Hall on the Federation campus at the 2015-16 season’s second Icon event, a networking breakfast with Michael Leven, Chairman & CEO of Georgia Aquarium. Each Icon Event offers a unique opportunity for learning and inspiration as a top industry leader shares his or her business acumen and philanthropic journey from a close, personal perspective.

“When Lewis spoke with you, it was clear to me that he made a great impact on all of you,” said Kane. “You spoke of how deeply moved and inspired you were by his remarks. What you may not have realized, however, is that Lewis had been very much inspired by you as well.  He saw dynamic men and women, eager to network and connect within a Jewish context. He saw young Jewish entrepreneurs looking beyond themselves, yearning to be part of the community and, in time, willing to play a role within it and be agents for good.”

Katz’s extraordinary career spanned law, investment banking, business, sports and media. A founding partner in the law firm of Katz, Ettin and Levine in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, he also led a variety of highly successful enterprises, including Kinney Parking Systems, the New Jersey Nets, the New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Media Network, Interstate Outdoor Advertising, and radio stations.

Also renowned for changing the Jewish philanthropic landscape in New Jersey, Katz publicly credited Kane on several occasions for giving him “the gift of philanthropy, the why of being successful,” and inspiring him to get involved with the Federation system.

Known throughout his remarkable successes as what Kane calls a man who “never forgot where he came from,” Katz was raised in the Parkside neighborhood of Camden, New Jersey by his widowed mother. He went on to Temple University and to Dickinson College of Law at Pennsylvania State University, where he was first in his class. His extensive philanthropy included educational opportunities for Camden’s children in need, as well as substantial support to Temple and Dickinson. Yet, many of his acts of generosity went under the radar through his anonymity.

“A giant in industry and Jewish philanthropy, Lewis Katz was becoming an important part of our community when he passed away so tragically,” said Matthew C. Levin, Federation President & CEO. “He enjoyed events, toured our campus, met our leaders and looked forward taking on new roles here.”

“When the Katz Foundation which Lewis had created and which has supported a number of Jewish organizations among its causes, recently reached out to us with a very generous gift in Lewis’s memory, we felt it would be fitting to apply that gift to the B&P Division which had so impressed him,” continued Levin. “Seeing how our Industry Icon Series had, over just a couple of years, become the place to be for premium learning and networking with professionals and entrepreneurs, Lewis understood how making meaningful professional and personal connections through high-level networking opportunities, and informative programs with industry experts fostered philanthropic activities in a package that is truly good for business as well as our community.”

Drew Katz and Melissa Silver, Lewis’ children, sent a message of pride regarding the Katz Foundation’s gift. “Melissa and I are proud to support the efforts of the Jewish Federation and the Series,” wrote Drew. “We are honored that the Industry Icon Series has been named the Lewis Katz Business & Professional Industry Icon Series in tribute to our father who was instrumental in impacting Jewish communities in South Florida and around the nation.”

“We believe the Lewis Katz Industry Icon Series will accurately reflect Lewis’s passion and is the most eloquent expression of our Federation’s gratitude for the Foundation’s generous gift, said Kane. “I think Lewis is looking down and smiling.”

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