Friday, August 28, 2009


Some thoughts:

~ Periodically I am accused of using these Posts to "slander" those with whom I disagree. (I think the accusers mean "libel," but as neither is correct, never mind.) Those who make these accusations usually accompany the accusation with a statement that goes something like this: "You don't have your facts straight." Then, when I ask them for examples of the factual errors I have made, they have nothing to offer and change the subject.

Example: a couple of weeks ago a leader for whom I have the greatest respect told me that I was "completely off base" when I wrote several months ago that UJC bore the blame for there being no discussion with JDC or JAFI leadership of the "off the top" concept embodied in the ill-fated Fair Share Dues Committee Report. Both organizations' lay leaders, I was told, were immediately advised of the outcome of that Committee's deliberations in Chicago "but they never scheduled a meeting with UJC to discuss the proposal, instead JDC (the leader telling me this thought it was JAFI, but, never mind) sent a very destructive letter." I thought I had reported this very accurately at the time and I responded that my impression was that UJC's leaders had told the "partners," we'll have Howard call and set up a meeting -- which never happened and hasn't occurred to this day (and now, of course, he's gone). And, this is supposedly an example of (a) how out of touch I am and (b) my "slanders."

Then, bear with me on this, I think I am at the least, as well-informed as any UJC Board Member. If I don't have my "facts straight" on any issue, what is the circumstance of the rest of the kahal? Are "the facts" to be known only to the small audience of so-called "UJC leadership?" Are the rest of us to be denied the facts and then accused of not having the facts when we "criticize?" Are the vast number of owners to be privy only to the "facts" as UJC's "leaders" parse them out? Trust me, if all of us...that's all of us...had equal access to the facts with real transparency, I would have far less to write about, if anything. (OK, OK, so I would still have plenty to write about, just not as much.)

~ I have written frequently of the gulf between transparency and UJC actions. Here's a shocking example: UJC has a Budget & Finance Chair who has been at the wheel while our funds have been expended on Sheatufim, on a Marketing & Planning Project -- both without vetting through his Committee. He sat silently while the then CEO restored $2 million in Budget cuts proposed by his Finance staff earlier this year. And, on and on. He will soon leave behind his mess for Sam Astrof and this Budget Chair's successor, Heschel Raskas, to clean up. But just so you know that he is on the job looking out for our money, the Treasurer has demanded that no staff Israel travel take place unless he, the Treasurer, the Chair of the Executive-elect, signs the check. This in an area that has never been the subject of abuse. Talk about losing the forest for the trees!!

~ Does anyone remember UJC's dedication to the Mandel Executive Development Program? Mort Mandel, whose leadership and philanthropy have written beautiful chapters of American Jewish history, created a wonderful program to "...graduate(s) a class of senior professionals for leadership positions within the system..." Well, with a little checking as to the outcomes with the first class, it appears that more have left the federation system for positions with Friends of organizations or others than have gained "...leadership positions within the system;" in fact more "graduates" have left the system outright than have gained "...leadership positions within the system." The top UJC professionals with responsibility for the Program have left UJC. Hmmm.

~ And, speaking of forgotten...last year -- that's 2008 for those of you not paying attention -- UJC dedicated itself, at the urging of the top professionals in our largest communities, to restarting a "mega-donors" group -- not "NextGen," this Gen. Two of our greatest philanthropists were recruited to Co-Chair the effort. Rieger was so committed to this that he said he would staff the effort. And, then...? And, then....? Maybe Howard will write what he did with this effort in his memoirs -- my conclusion is -- he did nothing. And, nothing came of it.

~ Has anyone out there read one of the great works of fiction of 2009 -- The Voice of One. The Power of Many -- the UJC 2008 Annual Report? You really owe it to yourself to get it online at the UJC website. From the title (has anyone figured out what it means?) to the narrative, a great end of Summer fiction read. Here's an example:"UJC HELPS FEDERATIONS GROW THEIR DONORS AND DOLLARS by providing fundraising expertise, consultation and support for the Annual Campaign...UJC's focus on demographic groups, such as women and young professionals, helps communities develop and cultivate donors for the future...yada yada yada." As I said, a great piece of fiction.

~ It will surprise no one but the federations which have rejected it that UJC continues to find unusual outlets for its appeal for ENP funding. Recently it headlined the Planned Giving & Endowment Department's periodic Newsletter. Right there in the Associate V-P's Column, right at the top, the plea. (And, as well, that Newsletter requested submittals of "Heroes" nominees.) If it didn't hurt so much, I'd be laughing through the tears.

~ And, just how is the "fund raising" going for $3.7 million for the ENP and $800,000 for Yemenites to Monsey? If any of you have heard from UJC on the subject, let me know. Or, maybe we could ask the ENP Treasurer, Rebecca Caspi. Appropriate? Or...maybe not?

~ In an Anonymous Comment to my Oh...I Forgot Post, a correspondent advised that UJC's $25,000 "Heroes" Program appears to have been captured by the Chabad. If this is what UJC intended, they have their "Heroes," indeed. Re-reading UJC's "announcement" of the "Heroes" contest, anything's possible.



ck said...

Well Chabad has sure flexed its Web 2.0 muscle and more power to them! In the past several years UJC has collaborated more and more with Chabad and if that makes UJC more inclusive and effective then why not? I should also note that the current #1, Rabbi Yonah Bookstein (not a Chabadnik) is my colleague at Jewlicious where we owe our entire existence to our Web 2.0 prowess, and not so much to any sort of major largesse of any established philanthropies. The current #2 is Ari Teman, also not a Chabadnik, and a recent alumni of the Schusterman Foundation funded ROI Community ( This Heroes project seems to be working out really well. Despite our commanding lead, more and more heroes are being nominated and I for one am thrilled to see evidence of a vibrant Jewish community full of these amazing individuals. Some of whom even I have voted for!

We have exactly zero expectation of winning the $25k. Most of us working hard to get the word out on Rabbi Yo, are doing so as a way of letting him know we appreciate all his hard work and dedication, and that of his lovely wife Rachel of course. That's reward enough for us.

RWEX said...


Power to the People!! Good for you, for your "nominees," for Chabad...for everyone!!

Jewlicious said...

Dude. You never fail to crack me up. Never change!