What follows is the story I hope will prove to be 100% wrong. I hope someone at UJC will send me Board Minutes, Financial Statements or Audits that evidence that UJC's actions in support of Sheatufim proceeded as they are required to by UJC's governance and the non-profit laws as they apply to UJC's actions. I fear that no such evidence exists and that what follows is the inevitable result of arrogance, hubris and the sense among some that they are not bound by the very By-Laws that elected them.
I was thinking about this last week while on vacation. I thought back to the time during Rieger's regime when I presented the findings of the federation-driven Resource Development Management Guidelines at a Florida Board Meeting five years ago. Several leaders objected -- one of them, the current Budget & Finance Chair, quite vociferously, while never disclosing that he was serving as Chair of a pro-Israel advocacy organization that would have been required to comply under the Guidelines. (As you may know, the Guidelines were adopted the following June by UJC Board. They were never implemented.)
This lack of disclosure has doomed UJC to a number of adventures, the most constant of which has been Sheatufim, The Israel Center for a Civil Society -- a "partnership" of, among others, Zionism 2000, the Sachta Rashi Foundation and, with no authority from its Board authorizing entry into this "partnership," United Jewish Communities.
On further review, without authorization, we learn that UJC is a shareholder in Sheatufim. Remarkable. Not a modicum of accountability, not a moment when these leaders apparently gave a second thought to the implications of this "investment" for which they had and have no authority. These are the same leaders who kvetch and obsess about JAFI's and JDC's supposed lack of transparency or accountability. Do as we say, not as we do.
Friends, the UJC By-Laws reserve the right to enter to contracts such as the multi-year financial commitment made to Sheatufim to the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees was never apprised of this "investment," let alone asked to approve it. Further, UJC's By-Laws reserve to the Federation Members Corporation the right of "[A]pproval of systemic Federation financial commitments." Ignored...with impunity. If your federation Chair and selected Officers went off on a similar self-serving frolic of their own as in the instance of this Sheatufim "investment" -- they would be gone. Here, with UJC...the response, a collective yawn. This is the end result of federation leadership allowing KanferRieger and Gelman to run UJC as if were some mom and pop business for the years of their so-called "leadership."
UJC "committed" three years of funding at $250,000 per year, never inserting Sheatufim as a budget line item. (Your guess is as good as mine as to where the funding came from.) And, for 2010, when funding was eliminated in the Budget cuts, as I have written, the ubiquitous Toni Young, appearing before the Endowment Committee as Chair of UJC's ever-nascent Center for Jewish Philanthropy, never disclosing that she is a Sheatufim Board member, led an effort to raid the UJC Endowment to replace those funds (partnering in this effort with a UJC senior professional who likewise, undisclosed, serves on the Sheatufim Board). I serve with others on the JAFI Board, many of you serve on JDC's. Unlike Sheatufim neither the Joint nor the Jewish Agency receive funds out of the UJC Budget. The conflict of interest in the case of Sheatufim cannot be reconciled with service as an UJC Officer, lay or professional.
These are but examples of the apparent "exemption" the current bunch of UJC leaders have bestowed upon themselves -- they don't have to explain, they don't have to disclose; they can operate with impunity...and they have and do. And they won't stop until you tell them....enough. Isn't it time for an accounting? How much was raised to bring Yemeni Jews to Monsey? (And how many have been "relocated?") How much was raised to support the ENP, federation by federation? How much and for what were the hundreds of millions of IEC dollars distributed? Did the GA08 break even, make money or lose money? How much was spent on Sheatufim, on the Marketing, Branding Initiative? And on and on. Friends, if we don't demand this accounting and accountability, we have failed in our fiduciary duties. The fact that we have to demand an accounting says more about this leadership than anything else.