NEW YORK — Sometimes it pays to break tradition.

With no honoree, and no black-tie dinner — just cocktails and a few short speeches — the American Jewish Committee held its 2003 Fashion Industry Reception last Thursday at the Harmonie Club here and still scored big. More than $1.5 million was raised on the evening, coming close to last year’s $1.75 million take. But, of course, with far less fanfare and food, expenses were much lower this year, so the net was about the same.

“With everything going on in the industry and around the world, and with all the demands on people, we thought it would be easier to just do a cocktail thing this year,” said Michael Gould, Bloomingdale’s chairman and chief executive. Gould, who was the honoree last year, acknowledged that next year, there could be a return to the gala approach.

The AJC fights anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred and extremism and defends human rights and religious freedom. “The ultimate insurance policy to ensure the longevity of Jews would be societies that respected the rights of all human beings, whether they’re Jewish, non-Jewish, black, white, whatever,” stated David A. Harris, executive director of the AJC.

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