Monday, April 21, 2008


In the spirit of the Chag and in demonstrable proof of my contention in my Post on "Criticism" last week, that UJC leaders find criticism of their policies intolerable, I received a "gift of the season" on the cusp of Shabbat and Pesach. No, it was neither maot chitim nor a prize for finding the Afikoman, and it certainly wasn't a Chag Pesach Sameach greeting as I had just sent my colleagues on the UIA Board -- none of those. It was instead an e-mail from Michael Gelman, UJC's Treasurer and Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee who appears to delight in his new-found role as kind of an inept Cromwell to the Chair's Henry VIII. Michael's Shabbat and Pesach greeting read in pertinent part: "In consultation with the Chair of the Board and the Chair of the Executive Committee please be apprised that at this time we are rotating your appointment on the Budget and Finance Committee and are replacing you..." and have a happy Holiday. I would suppose they view this "rotation" as a Passover gift to themselves.

Well, this should certainly solve all of UJC's problems!! In light of this most recent action, I found two cartoons in this week's The New Yorker particularly appropriate -- in one, as pedestrians walk by, folks are cycling on the high wire, another is balanced precariously on a chair tottering atop a parking meter as a passer-by observes: "I don't get it. Who doesn't love a circus?" In the other, all one sees is an empty road and the caption: "I'm not beaten -- I'm well-trodden, damn it." (Oooops, I just received an e-mail from the same threesome advising me: "...and you never were UJA National Chair...")

Yes, I have been pushing for the last five years that UJC revise its Budget process to (a) engage with federation leaders in a meaningful way -- and with the Budget Committee in more than one 5 hour meeting (including lunch) in April (or May); and (b) that the Budget "align" with federation needs not just UJC "plans." And, yes, I was the only vote (among those present) against last year's Budget because of its bloat and the marginalization of the Campaign while the "silo tear-downs," etc. were being trumpeted, and an unspecified need for an additional $1.5 million were the reasons for increasing it. Yes, as one of my insightful confidants opined: "...why would they want you involved (when) ...sensitive budget issues are likely to be contentious even after 'reducing to $37 million?'" Why, indeed? Do these leaders have something to hide? I urge the Budget & Finance Committee members to a real due diligence.

But, this is not alone an attack on me, it is another onslaught against dissent, an attack on all those, lay and professional alike, who would speak out against the empty policies of this transient lay and professional leadership. Trust that this action is intended as a warning -- "we did this to him, we will do it to you." It is a message of those who fear criticism or, worse, who have no answer for it.

One of my dear friends, a major federation chair, wrote me a simple message. After observing that this action " very ugly," he stated the Yiddish phrase: Illegitimi non carborundum. For sure.


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