Nickoll award is expanded, thanks to a grandson; Federation accolade is renamed, ‘Benjamin and John Nickoll Young Leadership Award’ | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Nickoll award is expanded, thanks to a grandson; Federation accolade is renamed, ‘Benjamin and John Nickoll Young Leadership Award’ 


John Nickoll, 87, remembers how fond he was of his grandfather Benjamin. Now, the grandson is building on the grandfather’s local Jewish work. 

The Benjamin E. Nickoll Young Leadership Award, an award for young men who lead in the local Jewish community, has been granted by Milwaukee Jewish Federation since 1962. Now, sixty years later, it is being expanded with a gift from Benjamin E. Nickoll’s grandson, John. It has been renamed the Benjamin and John Nickoll Young Leadership Award.  

The award was originally founded with support from Benjamin E. Nickoll, a Federation and Jewish community supporter in the 1940s and 1950s.  

The award is given to a young man who demonstrates exemplary leadership within the Jewish community, according to organizers. It is meant to both honor and inspire recipients. Starting soon, the award will more deeply assist award winners who choose to travel to one of the key Jewish gatherings on earth.  

In the past, the award has funded a stipend that offsets some costs of a visit to the GA, which in non-pandemic years is held alternately in Israel or the United States. The GA is the general assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America. 

“But what we’ve had in this fund has been modest,” said Mitch Moser, executive director of the Jewish Community Foundation. “So we’ve been able to offer a stipend, which offsets some of the costs of attending, but between travel and hotel and tuition for the GA, some of our Nickoll winners were able to go to the GA by funding the rest of the trip themselves, and others were either unable to or declined to pay the rest of the freight to get to the GA.” 

A substantial pair of gifts from Benjamin’s grandson John will change that, Moser said. The gifts are slated to be made over the next two years. Moser said he is grateful for the gifts and looks forward to offering a “full stipend,” to cover tuition, airfare, accommodations, and incidentals for award winners. 

The new funds may also be used for programming and to help start a mentoring program, which would foster deeper connections between past and current awardees.  

“I know I’ve been lucky,” said John Nickoll, who now lives in Los Angeles. “I’ve become quite successful and so it’s something that I can do, something for where I grew up, for the Jewish community and to see young people become leaders.” 

Upcoming winners 

The Benjamin and John Nickoll Young Leadership Award is to be presented to Danny Kerns and Noah D. Domnitz in June. A dinner has been scheduled for Monday, June 27, 12-1:30 p.m., at The Pfister Hotel – Rouge Ballroom, 424 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. RSVP by June 20 for the $18 event. 

For more information, visit Or contact Cait Schmidt, 414-390-5741, 

Domnitz is a trial lawyer with Domnitz & Domnitz, S.C., representing injured people and the families of wrongful death victims. The Wisconsin Association for Justice named him 2019 Outstanding Young Trial Lawyer of the Year. 

As a second generation Nickoll Award recipient, Kerns is passionate about NextGen involvement in our Jewish community, according to award organizers. He works with his family at Kerns Carpets and ProSource of Milwaukee.