Wednesday, January 28, 2009


This picture was sent to me anonymously. I believe it to be a kuntz....but, who knows!! What I do know is that never...never...has a Jewish organization or its leadership been so out of touch with its owners.

To paraphrase the President of the United States: "starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking" our national institution and making it, once again, ours. For too long, far too long, the federations have abdicated their responsibilities to lead UJC by allowing those who fail to comprehend, even today, the federations' agenda, to essentially do what they please with $40.2 million, now $37 million, a year. That's over. The strains of Les Miserable are playing... to the barricades, chevra.

Surely, some, perhaps many, of you will be attending the Federation Leadership Institute. In advance of the Institute, many of our Federations, or appropriate Committees of our Federations, will meet to discuss (and some to even vote on) the UJC Strategic Planning Working Group Recommendations January 2009. My greatest hope is that UJC's "leaders" will withdraw these Recommendations for further study. Based on past practice, they won't -- they will assert that these Recommendations are the work of 29 outstanding lay and professional federation leaders and, as such, deserve/require your support. If they had their way, there would be no discussion, no debate, just a vote. I would urge you to vote, as well -- and to vote NO, an emphatic "nay." And, in advance of the FLI itself, demand that those who have planned this event (as always, the Chairs, the CEO, the Budget & Finance Chair) step aside from leadership of this Institute and the Large City Executives, in consultation with Executives from across the federation system, take the reins, recast the Agenda not only of the FLI but of UJC and, finally, move UJC forward.

Now we are learning that the so-called SPWG Recommendations were, in fact, in so many areas rewritten by UJC's professionals under the direction of the Board Chair and CEO to reflect their Agenda and theirs alone. The most outrageous, the infamous Recommendations Section 7, which threaten to tear apart the historic partnership of the Jewish People, failed in all ways to reflect the debate or the outcome within the Work Group that spent hours discussing them. What is self-evident is that UJC under this leadership, lay and professional, have shut out the reality of the federation condition in pursuit of their own agenda. Everyone is out of step but them. That's over.

Instead of an agenda serving the interests of but a small group of leaders, let the federations use this "Institute" to begin the process of revival of UJC as its national address. A laboratory of new ideas deedicated to federations' needs. To do so will require that the federations take control back from a small group who still, after three and four years respectively, still don't get it and, apparently, never will.

Whenever the current UJC "leaders" have demanded their Agenda, no matter how poorly thought through, no matter the failure, the refusal to consider the implications of the implementation of their agendas on the federations, they have, time and again, failed to get either the big things or the small things right. Not close. By acquiescing, in the interests of not wanting to hurt their feelings, or because it was easier, or because, quite candidly, we just didn't care, we have cost the federation system dearly, in dollars and in lost credibility. That's over.

Time to take back that which is ours? Let's debate how we do that before we waste more millions of our ever more precious dollars on an agenda that has no relevance and on leaders who have even less.



long time observer said...

Is there a critique of the actual recommendations here? I don't see it (except for a rather portentous claim that the partnership of the Jewish people will somehow be broken if overseas allocations don't remain exactly as they have been). Readers might want to actually know what is being recommended before they take to the barricades. Why don't we let the federations decide what they like and what they don't like about the recommendations -- which is what they are scheduled to do in Florida -- instead of constructing giant conspiracy theories.

BTW, the sign is the same phony one that a few months ago was pictured with a rather insulting comment about our President. Not a reliable source, I fear.


Hey, LTO, y r u afraid to tell us who you r? I guess u just rn't a mensch!

paul jeser

long time observer said...

The flippant response would be because it seems to annoy you and Richard - though you both know me, and though anonymous blogging is common on the web (part of the game), and though Richard frequently cites anonymous correspondents to him. The serious response is that I do not believe this should be about persons or personalities, but about ideas. If what I say makes sense to readers, great; if it doesn't, would who I am make the ideas any better? And, I would not want anyone to imagine that what I say represents an institutional perspective (and I am closely associated with some Jewish institutions), and as a commentator, I can't readily make that disclaimer every time. So, I decided to comment anonymously. If at any point, Richard feels that my choice to remain anonymous is unfair to him and he wishes not to accept my posts, that is his prerogative, and I will not condemn him for it. It's his blog, and though I often disagree with his perspective, I claim no "right" to be heard. Indeed, I appreciate his willingness to allow my dissenting posts to be read. The issues are serious, but blogging is also supposed to be fun -- and I have a sense that Richard enjoys getting worked up some as well (at least I hope so).


Dear LTO, although I appreciate your response, I do not accept your notion that 'ideas' and 'personalities' can be separated. Part of any idea is the person it comes from and w/o knowing who you are makes your ideas much less credible.

Some 'blogging should be fun', but not in this case. You are right when you state that the 'issue is serious' - in this case there is no fun in discussing the destruction (self-imposed) of the UJC.

paul jeser