Memories of Danny Allen overwhelm, like a flood. The countless meetings where we sat together in the back of the room, observing sardonically the goings-on, or the not goings-on. Our exchanges of emails as recently as weeks ago after my article on UIA and JFNA appeared in ejewishphilanthropy to which Danny himself was a frequent contributor -- it was the article that Danny wanted to write. His passion for justice was there to the very end.
And, of course, I remember our pitched battle at the time of the merger creating JFNA Danny's passionate (sometimes infuriating) defense of United Israel Appeal's independence side-by-side with his incredible lay partner, Shoshana Cardin, z'l. Danny, the Executive Vice Chair of UIA at the time, a role he would leave post-merger and return to with great passion and leadership years later, never let up -- he and Shoshana, publicly and privately, saw the future with a clarity that I and UJA/CJF leadership did not: that the merger as structured would lead to what we are seeing today, the erosion of support for our system's overseas partners, and an inexorable turning inward. We were so focused on the merger we had structured, we were blind from what Danny saw with such focus.
As we went forward, Danny knew of my love and respect for him. We spoke often in the dark days of his brief professional leadership of the Hartford Jewish Federation and, then, during his service as CEO of American Friends of Magen David Olam, where Allen confronted corruption and lost his job because he would not tolerate it.
And, then, Danny returned to his professional passion: as Executive Vice Chair of the UIA. In expressing that embrace of Israel, and his constant advocacy for Israel and UIA's role, there was a baked-in inevitability to conflict with the passive leadership at 25 Broadway. Danny and I often conferred over those years, of his concern with UIA's role and the lack of support from JFNA both internally and externally. Conflict appeared inevitable and Danny's fierce and constant defense of UIA and his personal and professional advocacy for the Jewish Agency and Danny's expression of principles -- his integrity -- ripened into conflict that isolated him from JFNA's senior management. And, ultimately, JFNA's CEO began reading Danny's emails, found one that severely criticized JFNA. Danny left JFNA shortly thereafter. As one of his great friends observed to me in the past few days: "Danny just cared too much." This was the ultimate compliment.
Danny fought for his profession. A leader among Jewish organization professionals, Danny was a partner in the formation of JPRO; he had served the predecessor organization, AJCOP, as President. He decried what he saw as the abandonment of the profession by the continental Jewish organization. He had received the profession's highest honor from his peers, the Mandelkorn...he earned it....he treasured it.
And, Danny was an ardent Zionist; so much of him sprang from his love of Zion -- his and his family's dream of aliyah, his professional leadership of ARZA which he served as President, that joy he received from every visit -- his inspiration, the driving force of his leadership and his life.
Our condolences to all of Danny's family and his friends worldwide. As one of those friends wrote:
"May Danny’s life, deeds and memory serve as an eternal source of brachot and mitzvot for his family and all of us.Baruch Dayan Emet."