Monday, December 22, 2008


It was in the relative youth of so many of us that John F. Kennedy uttered that immortal charge to us all: "Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country." Today, it's Mssrs. Rieger and Kanfer who charge us differently: "Ask not what UJC can do for you -- ask what you can do for UJC." Why the perversion; well, it's just the way it is. It's not enough that the federations pay $37 million for a return so meagre as to be laughable, it's that UJC continues to demand: "do as we say, not as we do..." Examples?

~ UJC's chief professionals suggest that, in light of Madoff and the economic meltdown, that federations consider placing their endowment assets with, e.g., Chicago -- which many of them have done. But UJC? Continues to manage its own rather limited endowment.

~ UJC, on its tiny economic crisis link on the website, suggests, among steps federations might take, federation and agency belt-tightening. For UJC...uh uh, nope, not us. (I assume UJC believes simply that the $3.2 million budget cut last June was it -- forgetting that that federation demand had nothing...nothing... to do with the economic crisis and everything to do with bloat and a basic failure to perform.)

~ UJC, as you will recall, over the months since its 2008-2009 Budget was approved, made one "ask" for additional dollars after another -- and every single one of those asks failed. UJC's CEO's idea of fund raising appears to be to send out a Memo (imagine "fund raising by Memo)... and leave it at that. The need to fund the Israel Advocacy Initiative, a joint UJC-JCPA Project -- send a Memo and "raid" the National Alliance Fund for $80,000. No response to the Memo, next thing you know, JCPA is forced into direct fund raising for the IAI. The desperate need to fund the Ethiopian National Project, a Memo from Rieger with no authorization; no response, next thing you know, the ENP is told by UJC to engage in direct fund raising. Hurricane Ike and a $1.7 million need -- open a Mailbox; forward the $80,000 sent by donors, and allocate another $300,000 (+/-) from the Humanitarian Needs set-aside within the UJC Disaster Relief Fund, literally clearing it out. Then UJC asks the Religious Streams for help -- nothing more -- leaving an impacted federation for the first time in our memory holding the bag from a national disaster.

UJC has about $16 million in unrestricted endowment funds What are they being used for, you ask? Ask Mssrs. Rieger and Kanfer. Is this the kind of emrgency fund the principal of which ought to be invaded for emergencies? Are the needs of the IAI or the ENP or Hurricane Ike Relief sufficient emergencies? Are the horrific deficits being suffered by JAFI and JDC sufficiently critical? I know it's hard to pry Joe's and Howard's fingers from their Strategic Plan drafting pencils. impossible to get them to raise their heads from their Blackberries long enough to see there are a series of emergencies upon UJC being asked, if not now, when?

Friends, well over one year ago, federations and their lay and professional leaders, who objected to the lack of any perceptible return on their communal dues investement were told by Rieger/Kanfer: "Trust us. Give us one year to prove to you UJC's value. Give us one year..." Well, that year passed long ago; there has been no proof...none. ON WHAT CRITICAL ISSUE CONFRONTING THE FEDERATIONS HAS UJC HAD ANY IMPACT WHATSOEVER? is the tragedy of UJC today. When federations face an economic crisis of epic proportions plus a set of major donors across the country impacted by Madoff's perfidy, what right do these leaders have to call upon us to continue to throw dues into the proverbial black hole? And how do Mssrs. Kanfer/Rieger respond: "Trust us. We trust you." Got that? "Trust us. We trust you."

That's their Chanukah gift: "Trust us. We trust you." Huh? Pretty soon they will quoting us Rudyard Kipling.

Chag Chanukah sameach.


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