Sunday, April 12, 2009


First, my friends, my hope that you and your families celebrated beautiful and meaningful Seders and that the closing prayer l'shana ha'ba'ah b'Yerushalayim will be realized for all of you this year, next year and every year.

I thought of titling this Post, "and the truth shall set you free," but, given the way in which UJC's leaders have gone about their business this past week "truth" is the most rare commodity at 25 Broadway. We only have to look at missives from the CEO and statements by the Board Chair to the Budget & Finance Committee and to the JTA to understand just how rare. These guys, in their desperation, will say anything at this point, no matter how far from reality their allegations.

Some examples:

~ The January 8 "meeting" (referenced in Rieger's Memorandum to the federations, April 7) -- let's be clear. Contrary to UJC's fictional version of events -- a meeting was scheduled by UJC. JDC and JAFI leaders stated they would not attend a meeting unless they were advised of the agenda. UJC refused to provide an agenda despite being asked multiple times by phone and in writing. Then and only then did JAFI and JDC jointly cancel the meeting. And, it was only after the cancellation that Kathy Manning found the time to advise JAFI and JDC of its purpose -- to "preview" the proposed Work Group Recommendations that, absent Federation Executives' direct intervention, would have changed the system's relationship with its historic partners -- something this leadership is still attempting to do.

~ Twisting Facts. In a recent Post I cited an UJC-generated Survey of federation askiing for information on planned budget and allocation reductions as an exercise that UJC would use to rationalize its own Budget Recommendations. And, so they did. Friends sent me their record of the Survey "results" that Joe Kanfer cited to JTA as UJC's rationale for establishing an 18% 2010 Budget cut. What UJC didn't tell the JTA was that the Survey was responded to by less than 1/2 of the federations (77 to be exact) and a simple phone call to those federations (maybe by the Consulting Services staff) would have revealed a much larger number of federations cutting in excess of 20% and, many, more would have reported (and, given that their reports would have put in question UJC's unwarranted conclusions, ignored) that the extent of the cuts contemplated represented a "moving target."

More critically, any rational analysis would conclude that there is no correlation at all between a given federation's percentage reduction of its budget and UJC's. Federations are cutting in areas of lower priority so as to maintain or cut less from areas of higher priority. What Kanfer/Gelman ignore -- probably they just don't understand -- is that by its lack of engagement and its lack of relevance and, worse, its failure to make itself relevant, UJC has become for far too many federations a high priority only for cutting Dues. Thus, if Federation A is cutting its Budget by 20%, reducing UJC Dues by 33-1/3% may enable Federation A to maintain critical local programs and high priority Israel and overseas allocations. It is UJC's lack of comprehension of what federations are doing and asking for that it isn't even able to connect these dots.

~ JAFI/JDC leaders were advised immediately after the Dues Committee meeting of the proposal. Hogwash. They received phone calls from Kanfer/Manning. Both JDC and JAFI leaders asked for the details (which they did not receive in those hurried calls) in writing -- and neither organization received them until...until...the Draft Proposal had been distributed to the Federations by...take a guess...UJC. And why? Because this leadership loves the fait accompli; it is their operating philosophy. (Take a look at everything -- from the Organizational Strategy to the Strategic Plan Work Group Recommendations to this Dues Proposal -- each presented as a "done deal, now let's talk." And, in the case of the last of these, remember, it was the federations' intent that UJC, as their agent, convene a meeting with the Joint and Agency leadership before any consideration of the Proposal. Didn't happen and, now, Howard Rieger offers a meeting "any time, any place." Thanks a lot.)

~ We are totally focused on helping federations meet the challenges of the economic crisis. If true, quite a bit late, wouldn't you say? In the very first Posts on this Blog, in January 2008, we cautioned UJC, warning that an economic crisis predicted by others far more knowledgeable on the subject than I, needed to be addressed by UJC as the federation system's umbrella. These cautions were repeated time and again...and, time and again, UJC did nothing...nothing. Even at a GA where this might have been a focus....nothing. Now, with federations in the midst of crisis, where is UJC, really? After all, somehow UJC is able to meet its budget even if your federation, JAFI or JDC or ORT or your local agencies have to make deep cuts to reduce theirs.

~ Twisting data. Most of us have heard Joe Kanfer deprecate Annual Campaign achievement even as our federations have grown the AC by more than $100 million dollars over UJC's life. Many of us have heard him misstate the core allocations to JAFI and JDC over this same time forgetting that UJC today uses an allocation figure (individually and in total) that includes dues whereas UJA only included allocations to core. (And both UJA and UJC do not count designated dollars in their totals.) So, when you hear that allocations today are "close to or exceed" those of the pre-UJC years, that represents as gross a distortion of reality as it was to include the results of the Israel Emergency Campaigns in annual allocations totals (as both JAFI and JDC passed those hundreds of millions of dollars through to the Victims of Terror and none were used for core).

More to follow....


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