You know the fellow on those TV "infomercials" -- the one who screams at you -- "...buy today, this is a one-time only offer..." yada, yada, yada. Well, over the past week, while 31 members of the UJC staff were being let go, Kanfer, Manning and Rieger were offering your federations and mine, and the Network, the "one-time only offer to rescue, oops, make that 'relocate' a Yemenite Jew for as low as $_,000 per federation." I guess this is no longer a "secret project" -- once money is needed by UJC, apparently the need for "secrecy" goes out the window. But, are these families even coming?
You will remember that first the CEO went shouting to a few, select federations for funding for this "secret relocation" claiming that to fail to "rescue" these "Jews in jeopardy" by Pesach would make a mockery of our social service network -- of "all we are about." Days later, a Study Group that included a New York UJA-Federation lay leader and the Israeli Foreign Ministry went to Yemen and determined that (a) Jews were being protected by the Yemen Government and tribal sheiks, (b) they did not really want to go anywhere other than to new homes in Yemen, and (c) the Yemen government would issue necessary passports and visas so that those who wished to leave could do so. (I have over-simplified, but not by as much as has UJC.) The Yemenite Jewish community celebrated Pesach in Yemen, where they would surely recite at Seder's end: "Next year in Jerusalem." I guess UJC ended its Seder with "next month(s) in Monsey."
So, weeks have passed. The U.S. State Department is apparently issuing the necessary paperwork to assist 112 (or, maybe, it's 113, the UJC letter used the two numbers interchangeably) Yemenite Jews -- 25 families -- to "relocate" to, in the main, "Monsey, New York." (As we have pointed out before, Monsey is in reality a "wholly-owned subsidiary" of the anti-Zionist, anti-Israel Satmar chasidim.) Those choosing to stay in Yemen or those making aliyah are contrasted in the UJC leaders' letter to those coming to Monsey in the exercise of "freedom of choice."
UJC will be working not only with HIAS and FEGs, two responsible organizations in the federation family, but with UJO of Williamsburg -- an organization whose role is as a "provider of social and housing services...for the Hasidic community in the greater Williamsburg area" and, of course, unsaid, Satmar Monsey. There are those who suggest that the UJO is a social welfare organization of and for the Satmar.
UJC has apparently committed (once again without asking you in advance [because this was a secret]) a "reduced price" of $800,000 as the federations' share of this "relocation" effort -- even as FEGS will expend "half of its 2009-10 UJC/Federation grant to support this effort." UJC even goes so far as to deny that it is "partnering" in this effort with the Satmar community in Monsey (even though CEO Rieger expressly acknowledged this relationship in his original Memo on the subject [see Post AND, NOW, A NEW PARTNER, March 18, 2009]) even though it is clear that but for the political muscle of the Satmar, none of this would be happening.
So, what's the big deal? So there was no UJC process, so funds have been committed without first asking the federations, so most of these families will end up in Satmar Monsey, so the relocation of these 25 families is expressly compared by UJC's leaders' tortured logic to the literal rescue of the Jews of the then Soviet Union and Iran by JAFI in partnership with UJA/UIA/CJF , so concerned is UJC for the relocatees welfare that "[T]hey will be permitted to leave (Monsey) at any time they want..." suggesting their fear this "one-time offer" might be rejected because of the proposed new "home." "For $_,000, your federation, pursuant to this one-time offer, can 'relocate' part of the remnant Jewish community of Yemen."
So let's do it...."this 'offer' won't be repeated anywhere, it is only available through UJC right now." All of this could have been accomplished directly and forthrightly, but that is not this leadership's style...and still isn't. Instead, as one of those who received the Kanfer/Manning/Rieger missive said to me: "This is really the height of bombast." Facts are hidden, ignored or manipulated -- the ends justify the means. I remain at a loss as to why UJC believes that it can't trust its owners with all of the facts on this matter...on anything!! This from the present, and future, leaders of UJC.
But it is an offer that is undeniable. Federations are once again faced with a fait accompli; the logic is undeniable, we can't leave these 25 families with no place in America to go -- even though some would question whether Monsey is in fact... Could this sensitive matter been handled any worse? Could the lack of transparency been any greater? And, let us see if these families are really "...here in the next five weeks."