Monday, December 29, 2008


There are many ways to describe UJC's leaders today...few, in my opinion, complimentary. But, why would I bother to define them when they do such a great job themselves. The sources for most of this self-definition can be found in the deluge of materials e-mailed in any given week -- Leadership Briefings, Howard's Views, Economic Crisis e-newsletters and the like. They are, singly or in the aggregate, without question examples of an organization that has lost its way.

Back in the day, people used to joke that UJA's culture was one of "ready, fire, aim" and CJF's: "ready, aim, aim, aim..." Read the UJC materials and you realize that Chair Kanfer and CEO Rieger have imposed a culture of "Not ready..."(see footnote below for other possibilities) They write as if UJC has actually "responded" to the Madoff catastrophe or that UJC is showing leadership in response to the economic crisis when, tragically, UJC has done nothing...nothing...and continues to. For Rieger to state in his View last Friday that UJC should "not let this crisis go to waste" is cynicism even beneath him; for Rieger essentially to argue therein: "this economic crisis isn't as bad as the Holocaust" is just plain beneath contempt. Neither Howard nor Joe get it: we look to the national organization of and for the federations to actually offer leadership, to take risks, to show creativity -- instead, the history of UJC under this twosome has been one of expensive studies no one asked for, bloated budgets, personal agendas, a lack of engagement, a failure to be inclusive and a total disregard of the questions being asked by federation leaders. (The View in question was titled "Response, Clarity and Perspective;" it might better have been called "Obfuscation, Equivocation and Prevarication.") As you sow...

Are you as sick as I am with Kanfer's and Rieger's constant rhetoric about dedicating UJC "to focus our system by growing donors and dollars" while constantly in retreat from those very goals? Look at the record: the Chair of the Center for Jewish Philanthropy resigned because of a lack of support, the Supplemental Giving Chair threatened likewise, top campaign professionals forced into retirement, the budget for "growing donors and dollars" has been slashed, there is no longer a Campaign Executive Committee, the role of the National Campaign Chair has been reduced to a name on the UJC letterhead, and more -- how stupid Kanfer and Rieger believe us to be. Some of their stuff must be written by George Orwell.

Rieger closed last Friday's View (which was more rich than usual with grammatical errors, run-on sentences, editing errors, etc., and even a totally illogical reference to the Holocaust) with a typical call for UJC to do nothing: "Let us maintain perspective, and let that perspective inform our actions. Only with calm determination may we chart the course that will lead us onward to great accomplishments in the days ahead. The Jewish community worldwide is depending on us to do just that." In other words, don't expect anything from us, leave us alone while we plan that FLI -- "not ready...ever" We've got your $37 million, we're not cutting our budget, you cut yours." "Trust us; we know what's best for you." This View certainly summed up the UJC "experience."

What do they say: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me?"


* Other possiible tag lines for the UJC of today:

~ "Where vision gets built." (Lehman Brothers)
~ "The strength to be there" (AIG)
~ "You can count on us" (IndyMac Bank -- ooops, I think UJC is already using that one)

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