Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Perhaps you read that cash-strapped UJC has offered a $25,000 reward to the First Annual Jewish Community Hero "through an open, on-line submission process." (Per a Leadership Briefing, UJC, The Jewish Federations of North America Launches First Annual Jewish Community Heroes Event, August 4, 2009). The concept appears to have been the brainchild of an UJC e-philanthropy consultant being paid....? I don't wish to deprecate the concept, maybe it will achieve UJC's objectives as articulated by "National Young Leadership Media Co-Vice Chair, Lisa Kudish." ("Media Co-Vice Chair?" -- Where oh where do they come up with these "titles?") I do wish to show you how even a Program as small as this one can be used to perpetuate a UJC Leadership personal vendetta. And, I can report that someone(s) at United Jewish Communities has thereby proved that he/she/they have not lost sight of the organization's highest (only [?]) priority -- while accusing your Blogger as "slanderous."

First, I am no "Hero" under any definition. Second, when I went to the Link in the Briefing and looked at the "nominees," I thought these were made up names and pictures. Then I looked at their "heroic acts" (if you hit the Link in the Briefing, you can take a look and tell me what you thought) and found they are real and have done some very "cool" stuff. And I learned that "heroic" is in the eye of the beholder.

Nonetheless, I was advised a couple of weeks ago by an UJC insider (lay/professional, doesn't matter) that he/she had submitted my name. (I think he/she made the submission merely to see how UJC would react. The reaction will surprise no one who is a regular reader.) The insider told me this after finding that someone at UJC had deleted my name from the "Heroes" nominee list, someone(s) at UJC changed the "Rules" (even as the "Event" is a "lottery" requiring legal compliance) for "Hero" consideration and now allows these "Rules" to be changed any time UJC wishes to do so. So, even though the UJC Briefing of August 4 recites that "[A]ny individual, who is at least 13 years of age and a resident of the United States or Canada is eligible to be a nominee, provided their work impacts a community in North America," what is really meant is an Addendum to that noble definition "...as long as it's not Wexler." "A nominee could be the neighbor running charity bake sales....or a community organizer bringing people together around a cause..." to which could have been added "...as long as it's not Wexler." Ahhhh me.

It has been represented to UJC that this "Event" will produce a significant new e-mail list (as was done, they say, by them for the Obama Campaign) of, I don't know, tens of thousand, hundreds of thousands, millions for future use by UJC or the federations. Originally, the website http://www.jewishcommunityheroes.org/ was publishing vote totals per nominee. When the highest vote getter had received but 140 votes, this public tabulation was eliminated as well. (Had I remained a "Hero" nominee, I am pretty confident that I could have stuffed the ballot box, you know, the "Chicago way," and come up with 142 votes.)

So, the vendetta of some continues in its pettiness. Surprised? And good luck to the "Heroes." ("As long as it's not Wexler.")



Anonymous said...

By their very nature these kind of contests do not pull in the grass roots but "astroturf" voters aggressively encouraged by the followers of various candidates. A jaded observer can already see it in the preliminary voting. As federations are precluded from the rules to nominate professionals and by good taste to nominate laity (how can you choose just one?!) the results will be skewed far far away from the traditional agency centered organized community. Once more we may end up celebrating not our own accomplishments but those of others. What did Groucho say about never joining a club that would have him as a member?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wexler,

UJC is the single most important organization to the American Jewish Community.

If your contribution to the Jewish people was nothing more than to try and keep UJC honest and dedicated to its mission for the last few years of this Blog, than you have made a significant contribution to American Jewish life.

Everyone knows that your contribution has been much more.

An admirer.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, right, Richard is a hero... and George orwell is presenting the award.

joebrown42 said...

What a stupid game UJC tried to make people play. No real purpose, no real depth. One guy's description was "playing drums since he was two".
And I know of many heroes who definitely should be there, and won't be. What is this idiocy?