Thursday, November 13, 2008


UJC's Officers Nominating Committee has committed the organization to one final year of the Kanfer regime. Unfortunately, there is every indication things will get worse.

In the course of Joe Kanfer's failed attempts to "persuade" me to resign my Chairmanship of United Israel Appeal this past Winter and Spring out of his anger, pique and rage at my criticism of the lack of leadership at UJC on, among other places, the Posts on this Blog, Joe contacted many of the individual UIA officers with a litany of allegations against me made up out of whole cloth. Even after he was provided proof that he was spreading falsehoods, he persisted and even embellished his fables. One of the most egregious was the preposterous allegation that I, as UJC's Financial Relations Chair had made "sweetheart" deals without authorization writing off millions of dollars in UJC dues and unpaid allocations. When I confronted Joe on this canard, he responded with silence. Now comes the irony as it is Kanfer busy unilaterally and without consultation cutting a deal with a federation that, if implemented, will put UJC's entire Fair Share Dues system and, thereby, UJC itself, at risk.

For years first the UJA and then the Council of Jewish Federations faced allocations and dues issues with the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach. That federation, deep in debt in the early 90's, and with no endowment, though a fund raising machine, was an "operating federation" with responsibility for running its beautiful campus and operating the day schools and community center. Agreements with the national organizations were made and broken. Starting with a lay administration led by Herb Gimelstob, the federation eliminated its debt and committed to an overseas allocation that would grow with its campaign, but not to national dues. When Bill Bernstein joined the SPB federation as its chief professional officer, paired with leaders like Gimelstob, Larry Altschul, Etta Zimmerman, Rani Garfinkle and others, there was real hope for the national system's partnership with South Palm Beach. A Hurricane intervened.

In the aftermath of Katrina, Boca Raton and environs were hit by Hurricane Wilmal, impacting on the federation campus and communal facilities. UJC's leaders perceived the Federation as capable of solving its own financial problems arising from the damage... and said so publicly and privately. South Palm asked for dues relief, a deferral or reduction, in various proffers, each of which was rejected by UJC's Financial Relations Committee. The Committee perceived the "hardship case" necessary as a pre-condition to Dues relief as not having been made. As a number of local leaders struggled to find the means to remain a UJC member in good standing, an equal number, including some who had led the effort to relieve South Palm Beach of its debt burden, argued that UJC dues offered the community little if anything of value -- the federation was internally conflicted. Instead of attempting to build bridges to a broad cross-section of South Palm Beach leaders to enable an understanding of the collective value of UJC Dues, UJC's lay and professional leaders -- Rieger, Kanfer, Manning and Gelman -- never hesitated, in public or private, to condemn and insult South Palm Beach's professional and lay leaders in the harshest and, often, ugliest of terms.

Earlier this year, UJC's Financial Relations Committee rejected yet another SPB "hardship request." The federation seemed doomed to non-member status -- it would lose the only value UJC appeared to offer: Young Leadership Cabinet, Women's Philanthropy. Lion of Judah, JDC, UIA and JAFI Board membership (if UJC could impose its will on those entities) and UJC Board and Committee participation for its failure to make Dues payments. Bernstein, the CEO, would lose his status as the then leader of the Large City Executives. Bill Bernstein and his Chair continued discussions of compromise, excluding Rieger, the Financial Relations staff and the Financial Relations Committee itself. Bernstein and Stewart Harris, SPB's Chair, believed they had struck a Dues deal...with Kanfer.

Federation leaders have told me that it was recently reported in an open meeting to the SPB Federation Board that "Kanfer guaranteed" UJC support of a deal pursuant to which South Palm Beach would pay its Dues going forward and UJC would "loan back" a significant percentage of the dues "at interest" to the federation. Viewing the "deal" in isolation, not bad; unfortunately for this "deal," UJC is responsible for protecting our system. If SPB is perceived as having suffered no "hardship" making it ineligible for Dues relief, yet gets this "deal," why wouldn't any and every federation in the current economic environment want the same? Of course, they would. So, the UJC Chair, in trying to keep a single federation in the system, surely a noble goal, unilaterally and without consultation "guarantees" a "deal" that would endanger the stability of the entire system.

As Kanfer swings UJC and its professional staff in one direction, then another, in pursuit of goals that he perceives of value even if the system does not, he is offered another year. Ironic, huh?


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