Wednesday, March 11, 2009


One serious group of Federation Executives has joined hands and in one letter expressed their unanimous view on UJC's proposed, "estimated" 2010 10% Budget reduction. These are not lonely voices in the wilderness, these are 17 communities, among them those that have been extremely supportive of UJC. And, of course, they are not alone...not by a long shot. But, will they be heard? Is anyone at 25 Broadway listening? Here is their letter sent on March 5::

"Mr. Michael Gelman
Chair, UJC Budget Committee

Dear Michael,

During the course of our 2 days together, the participants of our Large Intermediate Federation Executives Institute spent a significant portion of our time grappling with the various challenges we are facing individually in our communities, as a system and a country.

On average each of us has spent more than two decades as proud Jewish communal professionals who "toil" in these fields out of a passion for and commitment to our people here at home, in Israel and around the Jewish world; we believe there is much value in the collective. Combined our communities represent more than 1 Million North American Jews who have contributed approximately $100 Million annually to our federations.

The purpose of this letter is to convey to you and other UJC leadership our group's thinking vis a vis the 2009-10 UJC Budget and the related discussion re dues and compliance.

Many of us were pleased to be able to participate in the recent FLI and applaud you, Howard, Joe and Kathy for your candor and your willingness to adopt key strategic initiatives to guide UJC in the near term while simultaneously positioning the organization to operate from strength when our economy comes back. This is the type of thinking being adopted by most of our Federations.

Furthermore, we support UJC developing a budget based on implementing these initiatives which also incorporates the key services identified and endorsed by the city size groups last year (Rob Hyman has this information available).

That said, these unprecedented times require that we look to find ways to create budgets for our operations that are also in line with our projected revenue. We ask that UJC do the same. As reported by virtually all the Federations in our group, and many within our system we are seeing 2009 Campaigns that will be down significantly, some as much as 30%, with the average between 15-18%. Further, projections for 2010 are for now, equally disappointing.
With this as a backdrop, we believe that the suggested 10% reduction in UJC's budget may not be enough. We recognize that UJC has made significant budgetary reductions in the last few years and understand that those cuts have had operational impacts; however, with the data suggesting that Campaigns could be down, on average, 15-18% we feel Federations may not be able meet even those reduced fair share amounts. Therefore, we request that UJC develop the budget communication in modules that reflect 20%, 15% and 10% reductions from the current year. The accompanying narrative should explain what UJC leadership and the finance committee see as the impact of these scenarios ON what can and cannot be delivered. If possible, trying to overlay the FLI priorities and the lists of desired service outlined in the LCE document, as well as those from the other city size groups (documents submitted to UJC last spring) should be considered. This will help us match costs, priorities, and services and better make the UJC value case to our Boards and donors.

With regard to dues, we support a transparent and fair share solution to the dues and compliance issue. Though we did not reach consensus regarding changes in the dues formula, we understand various ideas are being considered and we will actively participate in their evaluation. As stated above, we expect that many Federations, including some of ours, will be requesting dues relief regardless of the budget or dues formulation. We support a system that is compassionate, consistent, and accountable. We will work with you on creating clear compliance guidelines and allied arbitration processes, for we also believe that our system cannot survive if non-compliance has no consequences.

Michael, we thank you and your committee, as well as Joe and Kathy for your leadership. These are complex issues with no easy answers in these difficult days. Our goal is to partner with you, other Federation Executives, lay leaders and UJC professionals to identify and implement the best options available. We continue to believe that we are stronger together than we are alone, particularly in these turbulent times.

We look forward to hearing from you and wish you a most joyous Purim.

Best regards,

Eric B. Stillman, President and CEO
United Jewish Community of Broward County

Stanley Stone, Executive Vice President
Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey

Shepard Englander, Chief Executive Officer
Jewish Federation of Cincinnati

Doug Seserman, President & Chief Executive Officer
Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado

Marsha F. Hurwitz, President & CEO
Columbus Jewish Federation

Gary Weinstein, President & CEO
Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas

Cathrine Fischer Schwartz, Executive Director
Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford

Lee R. Wunsch, President/Chief Executive Officer
Jewish Federation of Greater Houston

Todd Stettner, Executive Vice President & Chief Executive Officer
Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City

Richard M. Meyer, Executive Vice President
Milwaukee Jewish Federation

Joshua M. Fogelson, Chief Executive Officer
Minneapolis Jewish Federation

Adam Schwartz, President/CEO
Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix

Stephen R. Silberfarb, Executive Vice President/CEO
Jewish Federation of Rhode Island

Lawrence W. Fine, Executive Director
Jewish Community Federation of Greater Rochester

Michael S. Rassler, Chief Executive Officer
United Jewish Federation of San Diego County

Richard Fruchter, President & CEO
Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle

Mark Gurvis, Executive Director
Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

cc: Joe Kanfer, Kathy Manning, Howard Rieger, Rob Hyman "


I count so many friends among this group of Federation professional leaders. They are women and men of great commitment who with their communities are dedicated to a strong national organization that represents them. I hope we all gather strength from the way that they have expressed their concern for UJC and their federations.

But, the questions remain: anyone home at 25 Broadway? These fine leaders will no doubt hear back from UJC with a message that "...your letter will be taken very seriously at UJC" but that deeper cuts will affect UJC's "services." Sure. And, what's next?


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