In a forthright and intriguing (as well as dismissive) Comment to my recent Post -- $500,000,000 and Counting -- a correspondent with nom de plume long time observer was extremely critical, suggesting that I evidence "increasingly occupying a fantasy land." The Comment was otherwise thoughtful and sufficiently analytical as to suggest that the writer could even reveal her/his identity without fear of public condemnation. I welcome the public criticism -- the Commentator joins 50-100 of you who write or call me privately after almost every Post to give me your opinions (and there are the others, who write me as follows: "As you know, I don't read your Blog, but your last Post was sent to me by others and I feel I should write -- sure). Our system would thrive were debate to occur in a more appropriate forum -- the very place where there is none.
Let's look at the facts -- while critics of the annual campaign constantly reference its "(decline) in constant dollars," the reality is that federation annual campaigns have grown by $300,000,000 in actual dollars since UJC was formed. Combined with the growth of federation endowments, the federations do "remain philanthropic leaders in the 21st century." The life blood of federations remains the annual campaign -- to dismiss it -- because of the "constant dollar" argument, the reality that the number of donors has reduced by 300,000 over the last 15 years, etc. -- and then to conclude that the "initiative in shaping the Jewish agenda has passed from federations to foundations and other, more dynamic organizations" suggests that this Commentator has already cast aside the federations as the central communal addresses and the central planning bodies for our communities. I haven't and won't and no UJC or federation lay or professional leader worthy of the title "leader" should either.
The mantra that UJC's "current problems are the result of waiting far too long to dismantle and integrate the old UJA fundraising apparatus into an organization truly focused on helping federations thrive.." rests on three false premises: (1) that "the old UJA" wasn't "truly focused on helping federations thrive;" (2) that the FRD structure within UJC resisted integration and (3) that UJC's current initiatives are "helping federations thrive." None of those conclusions are correct. Then, there is the familiar complaint that UJC was from the beginning afflicted with an excess of "process." Can anyone cite a single instance ...one...where an initiative flowing from UJC leadership down has been denied them because of "process"? This argument, like that about the lack of integration, is but an excuse for UJC's failures and the consequent and escalating waste of federations' and donors' resources, nothing more.
I may be wrong, I often am; this Commentator with fake name may be wrong -- but these matters should be the subjects of debate that takes place within UJC, within its Board. The reason the "debate," if that's what it is, takes place here, is that it's not taking place there. And, under this deservedly insecure UJC leadership, never will.
And that's the real pity.