Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Yesterday we wrote of UJC's pursuit of funding for the "rescue" of Yemeni Jews who wish to leave Yemen for Monsey, Rockland County, New York. "To date, 59 federations have made pledges," UJC reported, leaving almost 100 to go.

And, here we go again....and again. You may recall that the UJC CEO, with no authorization, has made serial asks for many causes...but never once for the core allocations to support JDC and JAFI. We have written about these inappropriate actions over the past 18 months. The causes generally have been areas of critical need -- yet, they appear to be requests that arise without plan or coordination. While time and again the federations have rejected these funding requests -- for the IAI, the Russian-Georgia War, the ENP, the remaining vetted aid to the Victims of Terror though after the IEC was shut down, and the "relocation" of Yemeni Jews to Monsey, and on and on -- Rieger and now joined by the few "trusted" leaders, continue the requests. And, never...never...are the federations (let alone the Agency or Joint) consulted.

So, it probably comes as little surprise that they're at it again. You will remember that at one point this year Rieger, with no vetting, validation or process, wrote a letter to the federations asking for $5 million in additional financial assistance for the Ethiopian National Project -- a partnership of the Ethiopian Israeli community, JAFI, JDC and UJC (which has historically been the funding conduit through United Israel Appeal and nothing more). In the second year of ONAD funding (you all remember ONAD, which UJC's leaders believe has morphed into the non-existent "Planning Table" of FLI fleeting fame), the request was made that the ENP receive an additional 5% supplemental allocation -- very few federations responded then, at a time of relative plenty, to what was a planful ask. To Rieger's almost spontaneous request for $5 million...silence and disregard. Now, the federations have been asked, in a Memo from four lay leaders whose communities aggregate core allocations, after UJC Dues, to the main funders of the ENP -- JAFI and the Joint -- hardly entitle them to even make this funding request, to participate in a call this week, the implicit purpose of which is to seek additional funding for the ENP.

And the funding for the ENP -- where does that come from? From the federations through JAFI and JDC and from the countries of Keren Ha'Yesod. The chutzpah of the current ask for increased funding is that it first arose in a Rieger Memo to federations while the Jewish Agency and Joint were in the midst of negotiations over, inter alia, that very subject and reappears (another "revote?) at a time of both drastic reductions in our partners' budgets and without any prior consultation with them. At least two of the leaders who sent this Memo come from federations which almost totally fail to financially support the budgets of the Agency and Joint.

So, the question is: can any lay leader, any UJC Board member, ask for funding for any purpose, from the noble to the mundane, just because they can? Is this what we have come to? Is this the "change" that KanferRieger believe, with their disciples, that they have achieved? Is this the "momentum," that Kanfer believes Jerry Silverman should build upon?

It just never stops.



Anonymous said...

As a frequent reader of your column, I usually find your insights to be of interest. However, if I am reading it correctly, you loose me when you suggest that UJC leadership has no right to lead if they are from a smaller community ("...four lay leaders whose communities aggregate core allocations ... to the main funders of the ENP -- JAFI and the Joint -- hardly entitle them ...") My assumption is that their aggregate allocations don't add up to much because they are from smaller communities whose allocations are much smaller than those of larger communities.

I seem to recall great leadership provided by Leonard Strelitz and Alex Grass, to name just a few, who were from smaller communities.

I am not defending the actions of those who signed the letter, neither am I critical, but I do take exception to your assertion that they have no entitlement to act in their positions because they are from smaller communities.

Again, maybe i am misreading your intention, but if I am correct, it is inconsistent with the integrity you have tried to display in your blog.

RWEX said...

Dear "Anonymous,"

I am sure that you haven't read my Posts where I, as you have done, have cited the fantastic leaders who have come from smaller federations -- in addition to those you have cited, I have had the pleasure of working with so many more. At the time of their leadership, their communities, without regard to size, were allocating to overseas needs, the maximum. I would never deprecate a leader fom a community of any size whose community ndemonstrated an historic commitment to colloctive responsibility.

Thnk you for allowing me the opportunity to clarify.