Saturday, August 1, 2009


Hope for the future confronts the reality of today.

I have written elsewhere that for a Blogger, this iteration of United Jewish Communities leadership is like a gift that keeps on giving. At one and the same time, I can't wait for it to be over, to be able to reflect on the positive contributions that UJC under a new Board Chair and CEO will provide with and for our federations and donors. That day has yet to arrive. In the interim, more mischief.

So, on July 23, we received one of those UJC Leadership Briefings that arrive and announce some "new" event under this set of leaders that conflict with good sense, and undermine the "system" as we have come to know it. This one trumpeted UJC/Jewish Federations Participates in New Philanthropic Model. In fact, it was nothing new -- but it was scary. And, oh, the hyperbole.

"In a ground-breaking initiative, the Jewish Federations of North America recently helped convene a first-of-its-kind meeting of Israeli and U.S, philanthropists who will invest in innovative social programming in both countries."

The Briefing went on to describe a "gathering...held in Israel" at the end of June "...and constituted the first in-person meeting of the group, which will consist (note the future tense) of 20 people (10 Israelis and 10 "...from the United States," Canada be damned, I guess) each of whom will commit to fund $50,000 per year for two years and select something called "cross border projects" (maybe Canada is included after all).

So, if I have this straight, at a time of economic crisis, falling annual campaigns, agencies, local and overseas, operating on fumes; at a time our major donors are under pressure, 10 lucky ones will be asked for major commitments by UJC so that UJC Israel has something to do. Bringing Israeli and U.S. philanthropists together is such a great idea but to suggest it is "unique" is pure fabrication --this has been done by the Joint and the Jewish Agency with increasing success for years. But, their building successes don't count because UJC owns neither. Thus, an innovation.

As we pointed out in an earlier Post, my friends, UJC really has raised no money for this "new philanthropic model." UJC's leaders, including the oft-quoted Chair, the ubiquitous Toni Young, tried to pull funds from the UJC Endowment for this "10x10" effort (just as after Sheatufim was defunded after 3 years at $250,000 per year was spent thereon, these same leaders tried to make off with Endowment funds to replace the canceled Budget line) only to fail in that "fund raising effort" by an informed Committee vote...and revote.

So, now, in the waning days of KanferRieger, nothing is presented as something, duplication and overlap presented as innovation. And there is no relief in sight and won't be until these "leaders" are gone.

Yup, the gift that keeps on giving. Oh, were it only not the case.


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