Among my first Posts on this Blog were those that lamented the reality that in the midst of a recession, UJC chose, by dismissals and force-outs, to reduce its Development staff and, further, to divert resources from assisting in and leading the federations' Financial Resource Development efforts. We noted how UJC's Chair and CEO chose, time and again, to publicly and privately deprecate the federations' annual campaign achievements without apparently any...any...understanding that the financial resources from those campaigns fire the engine that enables the federation to serve as the communal central address and convener. UJC's leaders determined to ignore the economic indicators -- they did so at their peril. The Posts were a warning; they were ignored.
I returned to this theme time and again. One week ago, I posted The Ostriches. It was no more than a recitation of the cluster...farce going on at UJC. Not just the "Nero fiddles while Rome burns" attitude of UJC's constricted leadership but the fact that while our economy morphed from recession to catastrophe (so bad that the President went on television and Senator McCain "suspended" his campaign to deal with it!!), UJC was busy making serial "asks," ignoring its own negligence in the planning and execution of the anti-Iran Rally and doing "strategic planning." Well, unrelated to my Blog, certainly, this week's edition of The New York Jewish Week featured an excellent and ominous article co-authored by Jim Besser and Tamar Snyder: "'Genuine Emergency' For Charities, Agencies." Therein, not only did John Ruskay, New York UJA-Federation's brilliant CEO, acknowledge that "[T]his will be a tough year," but Mark Talisman, one of our system's greatest professionals whose contributions have spanned the decades "...proposed an emergency national summit of Jewish leaders to respond to a crisis he said is fast becoming 'many times worse." Indeed.
Even more telling, the authors quoted "...a big-city federation executive who asked that his name not be used" as follows: "Since all this started, I haven't gotten a single e-mail or heard about a single conference call from national UJC...[T]here's a lot of uncertainty about what we should be doing, but nobody's offering any guidance. I'm still hearing more about Israel and Iran than what we may be up against at home in the coming months." (Emphasis added.) To access this excellent analysis in its entirety:
Maybe, maybe, someone at 111 Eighth Avenue will read the article, and will explain it and the dire economic implications for our federations to this sheltered group floating in the protective bubble they have created, and UJC will rally us during these catastrophic times. Yet, as the New Year is upon us, wouldn't it be best to start the incredible effort necessary in these times with new leadership passionately focused on the federations' needs rather than on their own navels. I hear the fiddle playing...and it's not Tevye.
Shabbat shalom, friends.