Friday, August 14, 2009


Some of the articles in the press on our new (or, in some instances, sort of new) UJC Board Chair and CEO have offered new, often humorous, insights into these two leaders.

~ In Kathy Manning's local newspaper, The Greensboro News & Record, in a wonderful, laudatory article about Kathy's communal leadership, we learn that, like Golda, Kathy would convene communal cultural leaders to discuss communal events over her "special egg souffle."

~ In the same article, Kathy's husband, Randall Kaplan, a leader in his own right, offered a truly beautiful tribute to Kathy: "Kathy has never been one to set out a task, to aspire to be a leader, because it would satisfy her ego...The talent that Kathy brings to the that she is always extremely prepared. Because she is talented and works very hard and takes all these roles in such a serious way, she tends to be propelled into leadership positions."

~ And, Kathy, commenting on her Jewish leadership experiences told the reporter: "I get to be in meetings with the prime minister (of Israel), at the White House and I get to meet Jews all over the country -- and they all get to complain to me. What could be better?" Indeed.

~ In an article in the national Chronicle of Philanthropy, 'Listening' Is Key for New Jewish Federations Executive, Jerry Silverman spoke of his "grassroots" experience in the shoe business as follows: "I would spend two or three hours on the floor getting spit on, getting kicked, but really, really listening." I think Jerry will be ready for UJC.

~ My fervent hope is that UJC's Governance bodies give strong consideration to eliminating the unfortunate appendage we created at the onset, the role of Chair of the Executive. Its theoretical conception at the beginning was that the Board Chair role would be filled by a mega-donor who could focus his/her peers on financial support; the Chair of the Executive was to be the leader of an "operational Executive" who would know our federation system and provide guidance to the CEO and management. The division of responsibility has not worked. In the interim, as UJC hopefully moves to a single Chair, may the role of the Chair of the Executive be as it has evolved -- as Pooh-Bah in The Mikado. A title and nothing more. (As Richard Ravitch, NY's new Lieutenant Governor, has described his role.)

At a Chicago Jewish United Fund event at our beautiful Auditorium Theater last week, our communal and national leader, Midge Perlman Shafton, who knows me well, asked if I had formed any opinions about Jerry yet. I said I hadn't met Jerry yet but was looking forward to it. Midge, whose expression seemed to indicate that she didn't quite believe that my not having met Jerry would preclude my having formed an opinion, said, "I want to tell you a story my Dad told me. (Midge's father was a formidable and respected philanthropist who contributed so much to building our community.) He was on the Board of his Temple and participated in the Search for a new Rabbi to succeed a venerated Rabbi who had served the Temple for decades. He was seated next to another Temple stalwart at the first Service the new Rabbi conducted. Before the new Rabbi began his first Sermon, Midge's father's friend turned to her father and announced: "This guy is terrible!!" "How can you tell?" The friend responded: "I can't, but I want to be the first to complain about him."

I think Midge was sending me a message.


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