As a former campaign official to a failed presidential candidate wrote last week: "In the category of more unsolicited advice they didn't ask for, are tired of getting and will certainly ignore..." Yes, clearly, I am in this misguided UJC leadership's view an apostate, but I have always remained loyal to the cause -- the cause of the federations -- of our communities' "sacred survival." UJC is going through a long dark night in which it ought to examine its soul not "strategically plan." But, if UJC has mastered anything these past four years, it is the art of hyperbole -- the most recent example. this past week's Howard's View, where else?
First the gleeful announcement that "...more than 4,000 professionals and lay leaders of all ages..are convening" for the GA, the International Lion Of Judah (and, unmentioned, the over 500 registered for the Jewish Agency Assembly). So, assuming no double-counting (like not counting a Lion who is also attending the GA twice and not counting those registered for the JAFI Assembly only), I am going to offer, with all of us, a mazel tov. With you I am going to expect no GA deficit. None. Inasmuch as the most recent attendance announced to the UJC Executive was 1,800, and a deficit estimated at $500,000 this new total is really astounding...and great! But, my cynicism tells me that the same person who announces that 12,000 are attending McCain Rallies when only 1200 are present is counting the attendees for this GA.
Then there is the UJC "Economic Crisis Response." UJC has been so late to the starting line here as to raise legitimate questions of their leadership credibility...but they are there now "marshaling (sic) areas across UJC to address the crisis" according to the View. Howard even invites our attention to "a robust Web resource (at www.ujc.org/economy) that features the best our system has to offer on the crisis..." So, I went to the link (which included links to a number of good articles -- but not Jeff Solomon's cautionary piece nine...9... months ago -- and was referred to another link to "... read about UJC's efforts" which takes the reader to, drum roll please, last Friday's Briefing -- UJC Tackling the Economic Crisis. (If you read that piece, other than the Washington Office's work, it was like the Seinfeld show, about nothing.)
But, there is some good buried in the link -- another link, this time to an UJC "economic resource area" on the "UJC interoffice site." It's got some good stuff in it and the potential for more but you can access it only if you are a "federation professional and affiliated lay leaders." Therein, for example, is a list of speakers on or to the economic crisis who. other than UJC or federation professionals and a few academics, all charge a fee -- "yes, for $3000, plus expenses, I will tell you the pain you're feeling from this economic crisis." But, dig through and you will find the beginning of a UJC effort in response to this crisis that has been and is upon us...all of us.
One more thing: within the "economic resource area," UJC offers a list of steps for federations to deal with the crisis including directing federations to tighten their belts and reduce costs. Hello?? And, UJC, what about you? Is this another do as I say, not as I do? Is this not the ultimate chutzpah? Howard writes that "[W]e are also working for our system's future" -- best to focus right now...right now...on its present. UJC continues to fiddle while, in this case, the federations are in flames.