NEW YORK — "As my Jewish friends often tease me, this is the Bat Mitzvah I never had," said Deborah Defusco, general merchandise manager at Mothers Work Inc., as she picked up the International Merchandising Award at The American Committee for Shenkar College in Israel’s New Leadership Awards Dinner on Monday night.

Defusco was joined by jewelry designer Robert Lee Morris, who received the International Jewelry Design Award. "Education is learning who you are first and then projecting it," Morris said.

Despite the frigid temperatures, some 250 guests showed their support for the technical institute near Tel Aviv, which offers courses in such fields as industrial management and marketing, computer sciences, textile engineering, fashion and jewelry design.

"We have moved from being a small college to a very important institution in Israel," said Amotz Weinberg, president of Shenkar College of Engineering and Design. "You wouldn’t be able to do that without the massive support from here."

The dinner was held at the Delegates Dining Room at the United Nations, a suitable venue for the event.

"In 1948, in this building, Israel became a state," said Nahum Shar, president of the committee.

But with a nod to the challenges Israel currently faces, he added that up to 70 percent of U.N. members don’t accept its right to existence.

Among those enjoying the festivities were Wendy Chivian, president of Anne Klein; In Style managing editor Charla Lawhon; Janet Goldman, president of Fragments; accessories designers Gerard Yosca and Patricia Underwood, and Elaine Gold, owner of scarf company Collection XIIX.

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