Monday, June 23, 2008


All of us want a national organization in which we can take pride, which strengthens its federation owners and builds Jewish unity upon the pillar that is the centrality of Israel in our lives. Last Friday the CEO in his weekly Howard's View determined to embark "...on a brief tour of a few keys areas at UJC in which we work to add value to your federation, strengthen our continental federation system, and collaborate with federations to build our community." (Forget the syntax, it's Howard's View.)

Then, Howard was off, first with an "updated (UJC) mission statement, distilling it to its essence for clarity and focus." The Mission statement that framed UJC's Mission is embodied in its governance, adopted by the federations at UJC's formation. Somehow, someone, or someones, at UJC unilaterally "distills," restates and reframes UJC's Mission with no governance engagement, no federation involvement, no study, no lay involvement (unless Joe and Kathy alone involved themselves). These kinds of things just happen at UJC....they just happen...constantly. I know of no other organization where this could happen...none.

Howard goes on to observe that the federation system is "(embracing) our new strategic budget plan" -- you know the reduced Budget forced on UJC by the federation owners late last month. That's good, but he goes on to conclude, unrelated to the Budget, that "...many communities are either maintaining or increasing their core allocations to Israel and Overseas needs." Sure, Chicago has, New York, Delaware, Miami, D.C....who else? When a lay leader urged that the Budget Resolution include a mandate that the Budget savings to federations be used to increase the core allocations, UJC's leaders gave him a pat on the head and were silent. When some of us continued to urge that UJC engage in real advocacy with the federations for the core allocation, we are told by the Board Chair (whose community's allocation is about 20%) that advocacy is nothing more than "yelling at the federations." Advocacy is UJC's moral imperative; its current leaders don't think so. Yet, even against all evidence to the contrary, the CEO can write that "UJC recently urged federations to consider" ("consider") converting their dues reductions to allocations. That "urge" appeared in an e-mail from Joe, Howard and Kathy? If wishing only made it so...

Howard's View catalogues some pretty exciting examples of UJC's connecting communities to federation best practices -- three of them. Bang for the buck? Return on the dues investment? I don't think so. How about some UJC best practices truly connected to its so-called "strategic plan." How about a Table of Organization that truly focuses UJC on what it does (or should be doing) best? I know that UJC lay and professional leadership were very focused on last week's Sheatufim Conference in Jerusalem -- a Conference of importance only to UJC's leaders -- but, soon they will be back to UJC's real business. strategies and programs that will implement the "distilled" Mission they have unilaterally dictated.


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