Wednesday, July 22, 2009


A dear friend and frequent correspondent is one who has vast experience in the federation world. In response to my Post of July 19 -- Advocacy and Collective Responsibility -- he/she wrote me a long and thoughtful Addendum. It is printed below, redacted to protect my friend's identity:

"To: Wexler, Richard

Subject: Collective responsibility

One of the other aspects that has contributed to this problem is that the vast majority of federations never were directly on the ONAD committee but were always “represented” by others. These federations, predominantly small and intermediate were never exposed or even informed about the impact of core funding beyond what was publicized by the UJC. For ... JDC and JAFI this usually meant one or two paragraphs condensed into a “mission statement” type of paper. Never any overall comprehensive presentation.

Even when ONAD presented charts and graphs, they were so convoluted that the (federation leaders) not on the committee simply took it and filed it away, sometimes in the circular file. As I recall the ONAD committee, there were something like 19 communities on the committee made up of Chicago and NY annually, 8 other large cities rotating every two years, 4 large intermediate cities rotated every two year, possibly 3 intermediate cities and one or two small communities. Over the life of ONAD I believe there were two cycles after the initial two formative “study years." By my estimate there were probably a total of 32 federations (out of 155) that ever served directly on the committee. While the core allocations came largely from the big cities in real dollars probably 80 % of the federations never sat on the committee and had very little feedback from their “representatives” or from UJC about the importance of the core funding.

As JAFI/JDC ... began sending representatives into the field to visit specific federations for the 10% discretionary funding (over and above core funding) nobody was visiting the federations promoting the core funding assuming that was UJC’s job. In retrospect what would have been a far superior method would have been for UJC to coordinate all of the visits to federation with a uniform message identifying the impact of core funding first and foremost (since this was 90% of the budgets) and having a menu of discretionary projects for (the) organizations (including ORT). The UJC staff handling all of these visits would have been viewed as the “UJC Campaign Staff” treating each federation as the “donor”, developing individualized approaches to each federation based on areas of unique interests. This would have eliminated the competition that evolved, it would have provided uniform education and not ignored the critical element of core funding supposedly representing 90% of all income. It would have been able to address issues about transparency, mission of the organizations, and so forth. It would have also been better able to integrate into the FRD department of UJC as it would have provided a much better link to the “case” for the annual campaign.

If UJC had functioned this way it would have certainly been justified to take a portion of the overseas allocations to cover the budget collectively instead of ignoring this vital component and taking the budget out of each organization individually."


As my friend has written, the situation could have been far different today had UJC taken the responsibilities specifically delegated to it at the time of the Merger Agreement seriously...or at all. Instead, however, UJC and its current leadership walked away from its moral obligation as if the obligation either didn't exist or wasn't worthy of their "change mandate."

So what happened? The best/worst evidence is in the pathetic effort to raise federation commitments for the Ethiopian National Project. Begun with Rieger's bathetic letter to Federations earlier this year pleading for $5 million to what this week will be an effort to stir the Executive Committee to a an apparent recommendation to the federations for $3.7 million for the ENP, all at a time when (a) the federations as a whole and individually are staring down the barrel of the economic disaster that is 2009 and (b) JAFI has slashed $75 million in budget and JDC a comparable amount while continuing to fund the ENP on our behalf. Roused to advocacy, UJC's "leadership" (In this instance the original "ask" came from Kanfer, Manning, Toni Young and Shepard Remis -- whose federations' allocations to JAFI and JDC core one might wish to ask about. By the time this "Recommendation" comes to the Executive Committee tomorrow, it is a "CJP Leadership Recommendation" -- you might ask what and who are "CJP Leadership?" Let me know when you get an answer.), picks and chooses the "Urgent Funding Needs" with no consultation with the Joint or Jewish Agency further laying waste to the concept and construct of collective responsibility and our federations' historic partnership.

It is all so sad.


1 comment:

paul jeser said...

Richard - I hope that many of your readers will remember Joseph Cohen, Director of Community Services at CJF. He is very ill and deserves our prayers.