We have just learned that UJC's December 2008 cash collection effort resulted in a $16 million...that's $16,000,000 ... horrific shortfall from UJC's own cash projections for JAFI and JDC. While UJC's leaders will say "we did the best we could but it's the federations' fault," that's really not true. Certainly Sam Astrof and his professional cash collection team did the best they could, perhaps even better than that, working tirelessly with their incredible dedication to maximize cash. They deserve our congratulations. They care; they view their work as holy. But without year-long advocacy and a meaningful lay-driven cash collection effort side-by-side with Astrof's team's calls, begun long before mid-December, the results speak for themselves....and you can be absolutely certain that UJC collected its own budget in full before all else. And, it's not as if the cash collections playbook wasn't right there for them as a cherished "best practice." They just ignored it; pretended it didn't exist. All at a time of the worst economic crisis to affect our donors and communities.
Yes, I remember the "old days" when CJF and UJA viewed the system's obligations to to its partners seriously, as part and parcel of the moral imperative on which our national system was built. Both UJA and CJF had conflicts over many things but both were dedicated to the construct of collective responsibility of and for the federations and to the partnership of the Jewish People embodied in the work of JAFI and JDC and ORT -- a moral imperative the current UJC "leadership" clearly has never and will never understand. To them, "collective responsibility" is but a vestige of times past, something to throw into a speech from time-to-time and then forget about, a throw away applause line. Hence, the national organization crumbles with no sense of accountability and no sense of responsibility...and our partners in Israel and Overseas pay the price.
This deconstruction was neither what the founders of UJC contemplated nor what the federations envisioned would be circumstance that they would face in UJC's tenth year. (One of my friends reminded me how UJA and CJF in times of crisis in Israel immediately organized national Missions to the scene in expressions of our solidarity. [I should have remembered; I led two of them.] This group of "leaders" didn't think of doing so until someone suggested it, couldn't remember them, obviously didn't participate in them until reminded. Now they are planning such a Mission. The last of such Missions was in the era of our dear friend, Bob Schrayer's, z'l, leadership. But, I congratulate the UJC Executive on making the right decisions responding to the needs created by this war.)
But, here we are in 2009. Will UJC be forced, as our federations and JAFI and JDC are being forced, to cut its $37 million budget? Will UJC do so voluntarily, up front, or will cuts once again be imposed upon UJC? Is a budget reduction even under discussion within UJC's Executive Committee or are their sole focuses on the Strategic Plan, the now $2 million marketing and branding "Initiative" and FLI? How long are you going to put up with this dereliction of obligation, accountability and responsibility? To their credit, there are federations of every City-size whose leaders have concluded -- "no more. We've had enough." But, as you would expect, UJC's top "leaders" are paying no attention. UJC must be reconstructed immediately; clearly that will not happen with the present leadership in place. Encouraged by talking only to themselves, these guys don't even know there's a problem.