A friend, thinking I had read it, sent me today's Howard's View, noting the ironic emphasis on the Budget and the Annual Campaign less than two weeks after the CEO had publicly questioned (on a City-size group conference call) why UJC should even invest in the Annual Campaign at all? I told my friend that I was pleased he sent on the View to me as (1) in their effort to make me a "non-person," I had apparently been deleted from the mailing list and (2) I needed a good laugh.
It didn't take me long to start laughing -- just the first line. For those of you who don't receive the View, or for those of you who receive it but don't read it, here's the first line: "Preparing a budget is about more than just manipulating numbers." (Emphasis added) Wow!!
What a wonderful Budget process we have had up until now. I have been fortunate to participate in the Budget processes ranging from my own federation, to national agencies, through UJA, UIA, The Jewish Agency, CJF and, until last week, UJC. I have chaired the Budget and Finance Committee of UJA and the Overall Planning and Allocations Committee (the Budget Committee) of my great federation. As I have told a succession of UJC Budget Chairs since the organization's formation, no federation would countenance a Budget process that involves lay leadership almost not at all, as is and continues to be the case at UJC. Given UJC's budget process, where a group of lay leaders attend a single five hour meeting (including lunch) and that's it (other than periodic "updates" over the year), for Howard to write in this week's View "[I]f federation leaders do not take budget discussions seriously, they are not fulfilling their fiduciary obligations" suggests a single response: "physician heal thyself."
I'm reminded of an old joke, and, while it is Chag-appropriate, forgive me it's not PC -- Helen Keller is invited to a Jewish family's home for Pesach. The reading of the Hagada begins, Helen is given one in Braille. During the service, the host sees Ms. Keller rubbing her hand on a matzo and frowning. The host, concerned, asks: "Helen, is there something wrong?" Helen, still running her hand across the matzo, asks: "Who writes this crap?" In UJC's case, how 'bout that View?
I can't thank all of you enough who have e-mailed, written or called me in support of my leadership and in encouragement of my speaking out since the articles in The Forward and JTA. I have heard from so many old friends and so many new friends and from so many leaders around the Jewish World, some of whom I do not even know. As I have told each of you, I will continue the good fight to assure that UJC shall be the bright shining star in the federation firmament that it was meant by all of us to be. To those who attempt to misrepresent who I am and what I am about in their desperate attempts to suppress legitimate criticism, know that I act in response to Winston Churchill's charge: "Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never -- in nothing great or small, large or petty, except to convictions of honor and good sense."
Shabbat shalom and Chag Sameach,