Thursday, September 18, 2008


Of late there have been a spate of matters related to UJC that have struck me as incisive, evidentiary or funny and sad (or sad and funny) at one and the same time:

  • Somewhere at UJC a decision was made (and, hopefully withdrawn) to add a $6 per room charge for tips for the hotel housekeepers during the GA (to be paid to UJC's vendor and, presumably, redistributed). Aside from not trusting North American lay or professional leaders enough to engage with them, they don't trust us, as hotel guests, to tip the housekeeping staff.

  • Included among the speakers at the July UJC Aspen Jewish Leadership Forum, was a terrific lay leader whose presentation was described in the program as follows: "He'll chat with us about family, kids, career, health and philanthropy, how do I do it all?" WOW!! Indeed, how?(Also on the program was another lay speaker who has denigrated the value of federation for at least the last 15 years -- good choice.)

  • Some federation chief executive officers, in concert with UJC, determined over one year ago not to use the word "recession" anytime, anywhere. Apparently there was some "fear" that if donors (who were, of course, experiencing the recession) found out that we were in one, the annual campaigns would crater. So, where are we today? Can the "r" word actually be mentioned? And what is UJC doing today in terms of helping federations confront this unspoken reality? Or is this just another matter that is "none of UJC's business?"

  • In light of the manner in which criticism and those criticizing have been dismissed by UJC's leaders and the lack of inclusivity with Joe Kanfer's "circle of trust," it was interesting to me to read "The GOJO Well-Being Story" and read the mantra of one of GOJO's co-founders "on the importance of lifetime learning:" "Everything I know, I learned from someone else." Guess that only applies within the walls of GOJO.

  • In a lengthy article on Putin's Russia in Vanity Fair this month, the author concluded: "In Vladimir Putin's Russia, power is concentrated to a degree even greater than it was in the Soviet Union." Now substitute "this leadership's UJC" for "Vladimir Putin's Russia" and there you have it.
  • I take some gratification in UJC's Briefings over the past weeks -- listing the members of the Search, publicizing the results of this year's Prime Minister's Council "Mission" to NYC, etc. Better communication or just an aberration? You decide.
  • Almost daily I receive e-mails from those of you who read this Blog and offer constructive criticism and, generally, support. I wish I could share your names, your e-mails and your criticisms of how UJC continues to go about its business, but you know I won't violate your confidences or trust. But, let me give you some examples from this week's mailbag, among literally hundreds: from a professional who has served our system with distinction for years and cares deeply about it: "Like hundreds of others, I have been watching the self-destruction of the UJC with horror." From a federation and national lay leader: " are right on the mark about so many things." From a brilliant leader in our system: "...the questions ultimately revolve around whether the current leaders have the ability to answer the questions. That particular answer is self-evident. Besides, who would want them to do so?"
  • The UJC Search Committee has distributed a Memo to a limited group of UJC leaders and Federation Executives. (I don't know how limited, I just know I wasn't on the Distribution List. Someone developed and UJC attached an excellent "Success Factors" chart supplemented by a "Dictionary of Behaviors." Personally, I think they should merely read my June 2, 2008 Post -- How to Spot a Flawed CEO -- but I wish them well in the search for the moshiach.

And, so it goes.

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