In an hysterical preview of what promises to be an hysterical Coen Brothers film, A Serious Man, in The New York Times (September 27, 2009), Frank Lidz begins by recounting Jewish Joke no. 73:
"The story goes that during a Sabbath service a Rabbi is seized by a sudden wave of guilt, prostrates himself and cries out, 'God, before you I am nothing.'
The Cantor is so moved by this demonstration of piety that he throws himself to the floor beside the Rabbi and cries, 'God, before you I am nothing.'
Watching this scene unfold from his seat in the first row, the chairman of the synagogue's trustees jumps up, flops down in the aisle and cries, 'God, before you I am nothing.'
The Rabbi nudges the Cantor and whispers, 'So look who thinks he's nothing.'"
The joke resonated with me, after I stopped chuckling, because of a number of Comments I have received (including some that could actually be posted because their language wasn't as bad as others) suggesting that I have been "going easy" on Kathy Manning and Jerry Silverman because I want "back in" at UJC. One of the relatively mild Comments said I was "brown nosing." (Obviously, these harsh critics forget Posts dating back over one year wherein I urged Manning to assume a much larger role in UJC leadership: "As all of us know, she is articulate, she knows the right questions to ask and possesses the intelligence, grace, sense of humor and commitment so vital to leadership.")
Let's look at the facts:
1. This Blog has been and is all about my love for what UJC was meant to be, for the federations, for the beauty of our work, our history and our potential, working together in unity. UJThee and Me has also been about my anger and frustration at seeing UJC deconstructed from the inside while federation lay and professional leaders who should know better, did nothing. It will continue to be.
2. My "loyalties" have always been to the institutions -- federations and UJC -- as they were built and conceived. The concept so vital to all democratic institutions: that we are "..of laws not men (or women)" (which , in my reading, is derivative of caveats found in Pirke Avot) has driven my conclusions and my opinions. I wrote an early diary of the first years of UJC the subtitle of which was ...A Love Story. I still believe that we can recreate an institution if not worthy of our love, certainly our respect.
3. I have been urging new leadership for UJC since the current leadership turned the organization into a mockery of its intended purposes -- a place without focus, without priorities, without a sense of love for our People and the values that imbued UJC with meaning.
4. I think that there has been a growing realization among UJC's incoming leaders that on matters of substance and principle, even as they quibble over their perception of "the facts" (that only they possess), the Posts on this Blog dealing with a failure of transparency, a failure of process, a failure of engagement, a failure of accountability, a failure of voice and a management disaster have been failures that must be corrected...and will be.
So, in closing, ponder this all ye cynics: Rabbi Dan Sklar, who consulted on the Coen Brothers film, in the NYT article called the brothers modern-day Jewish prophets. He said: "The role of the prophet is to speak truth to power and to speak truth to the people." So that, I have decided, is what I am aiming for: not a role in UJC's new leadership cadre but prophet-hood. I am "brown-nosing" to be deemed a prophet, nothing less.