- When characters in Max Apple's newest and most brilliant 2008 collection of short stories -- The Jew of Home Depot and Other Stories -- talk of Israel and the United Jewish Appeal;
- When UJC allocates $845,000 for a "branding" study -- OK it's allegedly for more than just branding but, who really knows?
- When I watch a Woody Allen film and laugh hysterically at the references to UJA;
- And when I listen to speakers at General Assemblies or federation events mistakenly call the national organization "UJA." (Most recently, at a Jewish Agency presentation, our dear friend Jane Sherman caught her error in mid-sentence, went to correct herself, then said, "Oh, forget it, what's the difference?" Jane was both right...and wrong.)
We laugh, but it's painful.
In a fit of institutional insanity, we allowed the greatest brand in philanthropy (not just Jewish communal philanthropy) to be lost. (Although fearing that others might not agree and would use "UJA," UJC leadership -- or some smart federation leaders -- trademarked the old, useless brand.) In what was characterized as "transformational change," we allowed change...for the worse.
When they owned Seagram's, would the Bronfmans have contemplated a name-change to "Bronfmans Crown Royal;" Would the Chair and Board of GoJo Industries change "Purell" to "Clean Hands?" (And would either have paid a brand consultant [my next life] $845,000 to research it?) But, in a single moment, with no real process, "UJA" was gone (to the glee of some to be sure) and the greatest brand in philanthropy lost with it in the name of an unachieved vision of transformational change.
Yeah, so I think about these things and what fools we mortals be.