Friday, May 15, 2009


So a bunch of us were sitting around during the Shiva for UJC trying to discern the logic that would drive a Nominating Committee made up generally of good people (albeit stacked) and led by a strong federation voice. So, my friend, Slats Grobnick, asked me: "How could the worst possible choices be made?" We discussed it -- our conclusion: "It's UJC today, what did you expect?" Our discussions continued...

During the one day deliberations of the UJC Nominating Committee, one of the UJC's few non-elected leaders, who got herself appointed to the Committee because...well. she is one of UJC's few leaders...announced to the Committee that UJC " doing great -- better than any organization that preceded it, better than any administration of UJC that preceded this one." This argument was apparently as persuasive as it was delusional as the Nominating Committee recommended as Chairs the current Executive Chair and Treasurer -- promoted as if the Nominating Committee operated in the same alternative reality as do the four or five UJC leaders of today. If what we have today is good, just what might "bad" be?

Then, Slats asked: "It's good, right, that a woman was nominated given that UJC just fired 25 people at 25 Broadway and they were all women?" "Sure," I answered, "It would have been great if Kathy had opened her mouth." Slats: " Didn't UJC's professional flack, Joe Berkofsky, announce to JTA that 66% of UJC's employees are women so, of course, women are going to be fired." "Yes," I answered, "That's UJC's brilliant math once again -- 66% of our staff are women so it's only logical that 100% of those fired are women." Slats," I guess Kathy must have missed it." "Yep, she also missed it when the senior professional running Marketing was forced to resign, when the Senior Development Professional was forced to resign and when the incredible professional who succeeded that Senior Development Professional was forced to leave. She missed a lot." Slats: "She didn't miss being promoted by Joe Kanfer, though." "No, she didn't miss that."

Slats Grobnick continued: "Ain't it great that Kathy Manning was Joe Kanfer's personal choice to succeed him?" "Yes," I replied, "Joe is the gift that keeps on giving." We have heard of the calls Joe made to influence Nominating Committee members to support his choices. Joe and Kathy have done such a great job of leadership that federations in huge numbers are withdrawing from the national organization; who better to complete the task than his Co-Chair?

Understand, it is great that UJC's Board Chair is a woman. I think of the incredibly qualified and generous women who could have served in this position: among them, Arlene Kaufman, Carole Solomon, Suzie Stern, Rani Garfinkle, Midge Pearlman, Dede Feinberg, Lori Klinghoffer, Jane Sherman and others... and I scratch my head. And it's great that the incoming Chair of the Executive's wife and family are such incredible leaders and philanthropists...and I scratch my head.

The Chair of the Executive has sat by and merely ignored all that has happened over the past three years as if "..that was all Joe and Howard, not me." She sat by while women professionals at all levels of the organization were demeaned, some forced out, so many fired. As mediator between JAFI and JDC she effectively disqualified herself and UJC. She helped to plan and ran a succession of GA's totally irrelevant to the federations' agenda. She ran meetings well. She asked really good questions.

The Treasurer presided over three of the most corrupted, opaque Budget processes in the history of Jewish organizational life -- with no push back against an Executive who demanded that $2 million in proposed budget cuts be restored for 2010 and that not a single employee take a compensation reduction to save the jobs of many who were fired. He demonstrated total acquiescence to a multimillion dollar branding and marketing scheme that still has no end in sight and over $1.5 million of which was never approved by the Budget Committee, and whose main focus was on the KanferGelman driven vendettas. With this compelling pair of resumes, only at UJC....

So, let's get this straight -- in our country, during this economic calamity, those responsible -- either in corporate America or in government -- are voted out or are forced out of their positions; at our national Jewish organization, those responsible in large measure...are nominated for promotion. "Kind of counter-intuitive," Slats concluded.

But there is a certain logic to the Nominating Committee's recommendations -- as this twosome for three years was riding shotgun on the UJC bus careening toward total disaster, why not promote them in time to drive the bus over the precipice? "Why not, indeed," Slats concluded.

Shabbat shalom.


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