Friday, July 3, 2009


Let's assume you are one of those who believe...really, really believe...all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, that UJC has accomplishments over the past three years that justify your cheerleading. Just what would those accomplishments be? After all, UJC spent well over $100 million over that period of time; there must be some major successed that we can point to....mustn't there?

Well, of course, there is the work of UJC Washington. (I probably just get William Daroff in troubled waters each time I compliment the achievements he and his staff have made.) Undeniable and worthy of a standing ovation. Nothing new only because these are achievements we have come to expect since well before this UJC leadership stepped up.

Peer Yardstick. Good work, appreciated by the federations. But the program has never expanded as the CEO said it would. Not close. I am certain UJC is doing a self-evaluation isn't it?

How about the Emerging Communities effort? The partnership between UJC and two high potential federated communities, Las Vegas and Phoenix, begun five years ago, literally abandoned without notice. UJC merely walked away. In the case of Las Vegas, the partnership would have had greater value during this time of economic crisis confronting the Jewish community; with Phoenix, abandoned even though, perversely, UJC demanded a written contract with the community before we began our work there. UJC is now in breach of that agreement. Never mind.

The Great Place to Work project. One can only presume that the project was abandoned after 70 staff members were terminated in one year, senior professionals were forced out and multiple professionals have their Resumes "on the street." One thing is certain -- UJC is not a "Great Place to Work."

The Israel Emergency Campaign and Operation Case Lead. UJC assumed the role of prioritizing the expenditure of funds raised without any involvement in raising the $362 million through the IEC. Good job of priority-setting. At the end of the day, UJC refused to establish a lay Cash Collections Committee (after committing to Chicago's leadership that it would do so) and to this day does not know where $10's of millions were applied by the federations while UJC-approved programs for aid to the Victims of Terror were never funded. In Operation Case Lead, UJC "approved" a $16 million federation effort and did nothing to implement it beyond sending a letter. How much was raised and transmitted?

The Next Generation. Let's see, UJC continued the Young Leadership Cabinets and the Jewish Leadership Forum, and implemented two programs -- "Lunch with a Legend" and "Flight." That's it. That's it? No, there was lip service as always and then there was more lip service. If words were dollars, UJC would be severely over-funded.

Relations with JAFI and JDC, our system's historic partners, have never been worse. KanferRieger have gone out of their way in their efforts to deconstruct the bonds that have tied us, as federations, to Israel and to the needs served by these partners around the World.

The breakdown of Development. These leaders, with the consent by silence of cheerleaders who should and do know better, belittled the value of the Annual Campaign publicly and privately. Development was marginalized both professionally and budgetwise. During this economic crisis UJC was totally unprepared to lead the federation system to higher ground; and, then, it was too little too late. In addition, of course, the CEO constantly bombarded the federations with requests for funding for projects without ever any process within UJC. Grade...F.

Worst of all Federation engagement. The withdrawal of interest by the federations in UJC has been manifest these past years. The lack of engagement has a direct correlation to this leadership's mandate that Committee size be reduced and that the number of leaders involved in any decision be reduced to a bare minimum. Never have so few been permitted to make decisions that impact so many.

And, finally, transformational change. Much lip service has been devoted to the UJC's leaders devotion to change. The results -- not much, if any.

I am certain I have overlooked something. After the cheerleaders and the claque have stepped back and examined what exactly has been accomplished after the expenditure of in excess of $100 million, will they begin to question themselves for the waste and the failure they have wrought? I doubt it; I really do. They will be back at the same stand, same place, with robotic applause without thought for things they would within their own federations.

I used to joke that if it weren't for the 1990 National Jewish Population Study, the Jews of North America would have had no intermarriage crisis -- it was the disclosure in the NJPS 1990 that created the crisis. So these chachams who defend the indefensible at UJC believe that my writing of the insanity and waste that have been transferred from 111 Eighth Avenue to 25 Broadway, has been the fount of UJC's problems. The Comments to this Blog demonstrate that so many of you understand the simple truth: UJC of mid-2009 is in a worse place, a far worse place, than it was when we entrusted it to the CEO and Board Chair.

Are we better off today than we were before these leaders were hired/elected? (That's a rhetorical question.) For the cheerleaders...Kool Aid anyone?

Have a great 4th of July and Shabbat shalom.


No comments: