Thursday, May 7, 2009


If UJC is going to succeed going forward, and it must, we have to learn from the mistakes of the past four years...and commit ourselves not to repeat them. And these mistakes have not only been egregious; they were, at the time and in retrospect, inconceivable. Here is what the next set of leaders, lay and professional, must avoid at all costs:

~ Isolation. UJC must transmit a sense of welcoming, of openness, of engagement with the federations as never before. It must do so by embracing the federations' agenda as its own and by demonstrating an unwavering commitment to the Vision and Mission that federations embraced at UJC's creation. The federations of North America's areas of greatest Jewish population growth must feel that they are part of a collective system. Those who have dissented and those who dissent , those who have identified what they perceive to be the inconceivable, must find their place within UJC not apart from it. This seems to this observer to be such a simple thing; yet it appears that it is so difficult and, to the current leaders, impossible.

~ Concentration of Power. The next leadership must be broad and deep and avoid the concentration of power in too few. The broadening and deepening of leadership must include leaders from all City-sizes so that perspectives are infused with the experiences of many rather than with the opinions and focus of four or five (or is it two?) leaders. We must move from the monoculture of UJC today to the multi-culture of tomorrow and we must do so with the same sense of urgency that will drive all UJC actions.

~ Unilateral actions. No longer will UJC's lay or professional leaders engage in unilateral actions (requests for funding "special projects" outside the Budget, creating new and expensive endeavors without process under the guise of "management decisions" which have nothing to do with "management") that further distance 25 Broadway from the Federation owners.

~ The Marginalization of Israel. UJC must acknowledge the centrality of Israel in our work and in our collective response to critical issues ranging from "Who Is A Jew" and the "conversion issue" to rallying support for the People and State of Israel in difficult times. No longer can UJC's work overseas be termed "Global Operations" with "Israel and Overseas" but an afterthought.

~ The Marginalization of JDC/JAFI. Our partners must be made to feel that they are true partners in the work of UJC and the federations, neither distant from that work nor, certainly, alienated from it. Working together UJC, the federations, JAFI and JDC can achieve miracles; working at cross purposes will negatively impact the federations in so many ways.

~ The lack of transparency. All matters UJC must be wholly transparent, consistent with the requirements of its own governance, and readily communicated to and understood by its owners. No longer will an Executive Committee be told by leadership that a Budget had been "...gone over by the Budget and Finance Committee with a fine toothed comb" when it was not to even be questioned, no longer will information on critical matters be parsed out or redacted.

~ Financial Resource Development as an after-thought. The totality of UJC's FRD, including Supplemental Giving, will be brought together under a single National Development Chair who will also Chair the Center for Jewish Philanthropy. Total FRD will be redesigned to benefit all federations and the Large City Executives recommendations in their Refining UJC's Vision document will be implemented for the benefit of all.

~ The Moral Obligation to Advocate. In recognition of the moral imperative assumed by UJC at merger, UJC will be at the forefront of advocacy for federations' collective responsibilities -- of which membership Dues is but one. Federation lay and professional leaders and leaders of JDC/JAFI will bring the message into communities including their own with passion, enthusiasm, love and respect.

~ The Religious Movements. UJC, with its federation owners, must explore ways in which to involve our Religious Movements in our work more directly and closely. This is on-going within our federations; there are a myriad of best practices to investigate and from which UJC must learn.

UJC must be reconstructed. Leadership, lay and professional, long dormant, can and must emerge to assure that the UJC that rises from the ashes succeeds.


No comments: