Monday, February 23, 2009


I arrived in Jerusalem to the drumbeat of heavy, flooding rains, a new Government in formation and The Jewish Agency for Israel in the midst of financial crisis and governance transititon. As Chairman Mao would observe, we continue to live in "interesting times."

~ Never has a single Post generated the enthusiastic and supportive response as last Thursday's "Breaking News." Therein, I fantasized a disastrous UJC attempt at rescue of "...the entire Jewish population of Iran" and the consequences. Friends and readers alike commented ranging from " will probably happen," to "I pished in my pants," to "it was a joke, right? wasn't it?" to "I was laughing so loudly I had to shut the door to my office" and more. I was inspired of course by the very thought that UJC would now be convening "planning tables." No doubt, more to follow.

~ Friends gave me a copy of a major Jerusalem Post (Thursday, February 19) profile on a great friend of World Jewry, Bobby Brown. I have been ennobled by our personal friendship over the past 12 years. After almost two decades of service to the Government of Israel, the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency, with great regret all around, Bobby has retired from that service to the relative quietude of professionally leading one of Israel's great emerging private foundations. As he goes from strength to strength, he left with many quotes in the Post article that are relevant to us -- one in particular:

"I believe that the people who were heading (a major Jewish organization) considered
their own positions more important than the positions that needed to be taken for the
Jewish people

Well said.

~ Immediately prior to the Federation Leadership Institute, the leadership of the American Zionist Movement transmitted a beautiful, powerful letter to Mssrs. Kanfer and Rieger. I, as a UJC Board member, asked UJC's leaders to distribute the letter to the UJC Board thereby probably dooming that letter signed by leaders Marlene Post and Bill Hess to total suppression although the real reason was that their telling narrative was at odds with the Kanfer message. I apologize to them. Joe and Howard, if you aren't able to send the AZM letter on by week's end, I'll publish it right here.

~ The JAFI Board meetings began with pain and inspiration, Bielski's transition, the impacts of the War on the people of Southern Israel (as rockets still fall), the growing Government-supported anti-Zionism and anti-semitism in Venezuela and an immense budgetary shortfall that will impact even more JAFI's ability to do its work on our behalf.

As a young man, an Aliya shaliach, an Israeli representative to the Israel Forum, to Mayor of Ranaana, to Chair of the JAFI Executive, a leader in Kadima and now a member of the Knesset, Zeev Bielski celebrated his retirement as JAFI's Executive Chair at the Opening Agency Board Plenary. Zeevik accoumplished great things during such difficult times. Over two wars, he was everywhere and, thereby, JAFI was everywhere and, thereby, American Jewry were everywhere. During his 3-1/2 years of JAFI leadership bonds with the burgeoning Israeli philanthropic community were built and tightened. His pride as an Israeli inspired us and as our leader, manifest. We wish him only great success.



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