Leader takes helm of chamber
A West Orange philanthropist with a full roster of leadership positions in the Jewish community has taken on yet another role: copresident of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.
Mark Levenson — who has been at the Sills Cummis & Gross legal firm in Newark for nine years — assumed his new post Aug. 9.
Long involved in the fostering of American-Israeli business relations, Levenson chairs the Israel Business Practice Group at his firm, where he is also vice chair of the Real Estate Department and chair of the Corporate Real Estate Practice Group.
In a phone interview with NJJN, Levenson said he was excited to join the chamber, which, for 56 years, has been devoted to bringing U.S. and Israeli businesses together. He will run the chamber with copresident Jacob M. Katz and, he said, is “committed” to keeping his post for at least one year past the one-year term.
He said he has already formulated specific plans. “I want to aggressively make the chamber increase programming and visibility,” he said. “I want to reach out to new entities” to advance Israel economically.
Although Israel, said Levenson, “is a superpower on the military front and economically,” much of the world doesn’t see the country’s enormous achievements. One reason he accepted his new position, he said, was to make the case that “Israel is being treated unfairly” and deserves more respect, particularly in regard to its advances in the world of business.
In the United States, Levenson said, he plans to set up monthly programs featuring Israeli speakers and trade experts. Sending delegations of American business representatives to Israel, he said, will “provide value for the chamber members.”
Levenson said he will also continue AICCI’s longstanding goals to advance and protect free trade; advocate for policies that encourage investment; increase the flow of trade, investment, and transfer of technology; and encourage the United States and Israeli governments to adopt innovative and progressive economic programs and policies.
Levenson is no stranger to Israel; he said he has been to the country “at least 85 times” since his first visit in 1982.
Locally, Levenson serves on the boards of the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy/Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston and the New Jersey-Israel Commission. He is also president-elect of the New Jersey State Association of Jewish Federations and president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Clifton-Passaic.
When asked why he chooses to juggle so many positions, he said, “If you can give back in areas where you’re passionate, it makes it easier.”