Friday, November 21, 2008


One thing of which we can be assured, UJC under this leadership will always be engaged in overreach while failing to focus on federations needs and wants. The constant quest for a "big idea," any "big idea," by these "leaders" has come at great cost...and with no success. So, it came as no surprise to this writer to learn that UJC now appears to be engaged in an unneeded and unwanted effort to create a new charity in Israel while its, in UJC's own terms, "partners" -- JDC and JAFI -- suffer huge deficits created, at least in part, by UJC's disinterest in advocating for them, and, in the case of the Board Chair, worse. Some background...

JDC-Israel has long engaged Israeli non-profits in leveraging its American supporters' (including federations) investment in vital, creative and innovative social service projects. The Jewish Agency for Israel has been remarkably energized over the past five years by the service on its Board and Executive of a group of Israeli philanthropists who are engaged and becoming more and more invested in the Agency's programs, its governance, its present and future. Rather than joining forces with JAFI and JDC in their efforts by encouraging North American federations' and donors' investments in their big ideas, this leadership has decided to compete at the worst of times while giving lip service to the "partners." Another UJC "big idea" of no value.

First, encouraged by its then Board Chair's, Bobby Goldberg's, affinity for Zionism 2000, an Israeli philanthropic effort led by Ronnie Doueck, and Goldberg's burgeoning antipathy for JAFI, UJC increased its involvement in Sheatufim, an Israeli non-profit partnership dedicated to the vital purpose of building Israel's civil society. While UJC may have reallocated a meager amount of its budget or overseas funds, to date the sole "contribution" UJC appears to have made to Sheatufim was the appearance of three of its "leaders" at a 2008 Conference as featured speakers or panelists -- Rieger, Kanfer and Young, of course. At one and the same time, in the midst of the economic crisis that is upon us, hitting JAFI and JDC so very hard along with our federations, with no consultation with Federation lay or professional leaders, UJC Israel has embarked, almost in secret as so many things are at UJC, on a program cleverly titled 10 by 10. (UJC, if nothing else is great, just titles. [I am told that 10 by 10 is already a title in use in the United States.])

In a nutshell (into which it ought to be restuffed), 10 by 10 seeks ten Israeli philanthropists to contribute $50,000 each to be matched by ten North American Jewish philanthropists who would similarly invest in a "blind pool," with some direction by the contributors. If UJC were successful, there would be the munificent sum of $1 million to be distributed for unnamed charitable purposes in Israel. Forget the underfunded work of JDC-Israel, disregard the involvement of Israeli philanthropists in the woefully underfunded work of JAFI, we at UJC, who can't even focus let alone impact on federation priorities in North America, will now compete with its "partners" because, even as I doubt UJC could raise $1 million, were it "successful" (and how does one measure "success" when it comes at a cost to one's "partners"), UJC would certainly use 10 by 10 as a platform for its intent to compete with JAFI and JDC on the ground in Israel. What a "big idea."

At UJC, there is what is called the IO/GO Council -- a group of about 12 experienced federation lay leaders created out of the destroyed "silo" of what was the Israel Overseas Pillar (where about 44 federation lay leaders were engaged and dismissed out of hand) whose purported primary role was to guide the work of UJC Israel. There was no meeting of the IO/GO Council at the GA (how silly of me to think that with GA08 in Israel, the Council bearing "Israel" in its name might meet). It is rumored that IO/GO is now without a Chair. In fact, I'm betting that those federation leaders have never heard of 10 by 10 -- I am willing to wager that its (former or present) Chair, the ubiquitous Toni Young, knows all about it as do Kanfer and Rieger. What they clearly don't know is how to process, discuss and expose new ideas with the federations which own UJC; they don't know (or have forgotten) how to raise money; and they don't know or care about the duplication, overlap and confusion they will cause with those they call their "partners" but treat as supplicants and competitors. Let the sunshine in?? Not these guys.

They just don't know or care.




joebrown42 said...

Shalom from Israel.
If that wasn't enough, the ENP has started - under direction straight from the top brass at the UJC - to fundraise on its own in Israel, even in competition with JDC and JAFI.
Doesn't it get better by the minute?

Scott Brockman said...

So even if the UJC's 10 by 10 project does achieve its goal of $1Million there is no stopping the stakeholders from agreeing to fund a project out of the JAFI/JDC orbit?