Where do the ostriches reside? Easy. 111 Eighth Avenue, moving soon to fancier digs downtown. No one there appears to have noticed that our financial markets are in total disarray, people's (even Jewish people's) portfolios have been reduced and reduced again and then reduced even more so, or that our nation's economy teeters over a disastrous precipice. And, what do we hear from our leaders at UJC? We need more money for the ENP, more for the IAI, more for this pet project or that one and, of course, first, pay our dues. It is like the old fund raiser's joke -- "...just 'cause you're having a bad year, why should we?"
Because UJC's leaders have so constantly devalued and deprecated the Annual Campaign and believe that UJC cannot impact on the federations' campaigns, UJC has positioned itself, as our national institution, to do nothing in this time of real crisis for our federations. No plan for this emergency...totally unprepared. There is no National Campaign Chair to rally the troops and, in fact, there are no troops -- without a National Campaign Chair there is no Campaign Executive Committee; no group of lay leaders to visit the federations to urge, with inspiration, the need for greater perspiration. And, in this crisis, where are the UJC lay leaders -- disinterested or unaware -- certainly they are caring, just unknowing.
Last week UJC appropriately congratulated the leadership of the UJC Prime Minister's Council on their 85 person New York City "mission" raising $11 million. Not mentioned were the following: the funds raised on the "Mission" were almost entirely from the Chicago participants who caucused almost alone; when Chicago lay leaders questioned why so little was programmed for events, UJC staff advised "we have a reduced staff and no money" for this event. While every Chicago professional and lay person with whom I have spoken expressed appreciation for what UJC could bring to a Mission such as this one (demonstrated one year earlier on the PMC Mission to Paris-Israel), there was little optimism as UJC demonstrated little enthusiasm for continuing even that kind of leadership investment.
Now is the time, if ever there was such a time, for UJC to throw its efforts into inspiring our federation leadership to double, triple, even dedicate greater resources into the annual campaign. The economic reality our nation faces is certainly, on an economic basis, the equal of the natural disasters to which UJC has responded so brilliantly. Yet, the response from 111 Eighth Avenue is, with our $37 million budget, "we have a reduced staff and no resources." And, thanks in every measure to the isolation and marginalization of Development over the past months and years, staffing is inadequate to the need and but for the valiant efforts of Lori Klinghoffer and the Cabinet Chairs, there is no National Chair and no cadre of lay leaders around whom to coalesce. This has never happened before. This, my friends, is our shame for letting it happen now.