As I have noted in past Posts, I have enjoyed JTA's Jacob Berkman's Blog, The Fundermentalist. Yet, from time-to-time, Berkman, like all of us, gets it wrong. This was the case last week in his JTA Post -- Outgoing UJC head faces tough task with overseas partners. That Post, if you didn't read it, states that Howard Rieger "...plans to play the heavy during the next dozen months as he works hard to make sure that the relationship between UJC and the network of North American Jewish federations becomes fully functional." Berkman, obviously sourced by Rieger among others, points the finger at JDC and JAFI leaders as the font of a significant part of the "dysfunctionality" that exists. Wrong...very wrong. Dysfunctional is a one word synonym for UJC today; to even suggest that UJC's curent lay and professional leaders are the ones who can make our system fully funtional is to totally misread cause and effect.
What's the problem? Well, the facts are simple: over the years of UJC's existence the core allocations to the Jewish Agency and JDC have dropped in both real dollars and in percentage. While federation annual campaigns in the aggregate have increased by $300,000,000 over UJC's life, core allocations have dropped by almost $100,000,000 (not including the incredible $362 million raised in the Israel Emergency Campaign which represented pass-through dollars for which JDC and JAFI were the agents). Had core allocations even remained constant, forget about increasing by the same percentage as did the aggregate annual campaigns -- close to 30% -- the battle for additional funding would have been mitigated, even maintaining the agreed upon "split" of 75% JAFI, 25% JDC.
During the period of greatest core allocation decline, the same President and CEO of UJC was in office, doing nothing, saying nothing -- the same CEO who Berkman supposes will now bring "order out of chaos" while sitting in the lame duck chair created when he announced he would leave his position at the end of his contract. The precipitous drop in allocations occured while the current UJC Board Chair sat on his hands preoccupied with...what exactly -- organizational strategies, personal vendettas? It was shocking to read that this Chair suggested to Berkman, an excellent reporter, and Berkman reported as fact that but for UJC's intervention, JAFI and JDC would have incurred $60 million in overlap and duplication in IEC programs and expenditures. UJC allegedly "saved" our system $60 million [a] a number without any factual support...none and [b] totally... totally...unsupported by the facts. This allegation from UJC which still can't find where $10's of millions of funds raised by the federations in the IEC were spent. Such is our UJC, such is our leadership, today.
But, it's even worse. JDC and JAFI are engaged in a mediation today with regard to, among other things, the amount of the organizations' respective financial support of the Ethiopian National Project. UJC is the mediator and has appointed, no surprise here, the ubiquitous Kathy Manning, to convene the mediation. In the midst of the mediation and preemptive of it, Rieger sent out his request to Federation Executives for $5 million for the ENP almost one month ago. Who authorized this ask? Who quantified it? Not the UJC Board or Executive. (See, Institutional Insanity Post.) And what's the real impact of this Rieger "ask" on UJC letterhead? Simple: UJC has disqualified itself as the "honest broker" as between JAFI and JDC. (The Fundermentalist must not have been aware of the mediation.) So, just how, exactly, will Howard bring JAFI and JDC together -- certainly not through moral suasion as Rieger ceded that posture in his pursuit of more dollars for the ENP. And Kanfer has ceded UJC's moral authority in his ridiculous, unsupported allegations with regard to the work of JAFI and JDC in the IEC.
It is ever more evident that it is long past time for the UJC CEO and the Board Chair to take early retirement. Let's bring in an Interim CEO with the moral authority, respected by federations, JAFI and JDC alike, and partner that professional with a new Board Chair of integrity and passion who understands the federations and let's begin a new era for our system. The Fundermentalist has unknowingly pointed out how bankrupt UJC and its leadership are. Thanks Fundermentalist for being fundermentally wrong but, oh, so fundermentally right.