Friday, October 16, 2009


Have you heard from The Jewish Federations of North America with regard to the status of the small Yemenite Jewish population UJC (yes, chevra, there once was an orgnaization called UJC) was pushing toward relocation in Monsey, Rockland County, New York? If your federation has allocated funds for this $800,000 effort, have you been given an accounting, even in "secret," by UJC/The Jewish ... ? Probably not

You remember: first, the former CEO sent e-mails to those he thought would be supportive asking for $5,000,000 immediately with the "threat" that if this amount weren't forthcoming it would be the end of days for federations' claims to social welfare leadership, among other things. The Yemenite Jewish population would be here by Pesach, that CEO wrote. (That's last Pesach, not Pesach 2010.) Then UJC's lay and professional leaders sent an urgent message to the federations pleading for the reduced amount (a "special," I guess) of $800,000 to relocate the Yemenite group -- that was to happen two months ago. Seen any? As I understood it, two Yemeni families have relocated to the U.S. and a few more are coming while responsible leadership in the America Orthodox community have been urging this same population to make aliya -- and many are.

Then a friend sent me an article from the September 9 Yemen Times ("Yemen's Most Widely Read English-language Newspaper") -- Ancestral homeland loses more Yemeni Jews. Reporting that "...the umbrella body of the North American Jewish Federation(s) escalated efforts to evacuate almost half of Yemen's Jewish community to the U.S.," resulting in three families totalling 12 Yemenite Jews leaving on September 9 joining the 14 who left in August -- a total of 26...26. "Emigration will (now) slow down because many want to spend the holiday season in Yemen with other family members." UJC/The Jewish Feder... might have provided this information but, psssst, it's a secret.

While UJC (yes, chevra, there once was...) leadership should have been focusing on what it should have been doing, they allowed themselves to be distracted with something with which they should not have been involved at all -- other than to expressly encourage aliya to Israel. We are blessed with two partners dedicated to rescue -- neither of which is The Jewish Federations of North America -- and questions about whether the Yemenite Jewish population required "rescue" abound. Someday maybe all of us will understand why and how UJC became obsessed with this population -- obsessed to the extent that at one time at least 7 senior professionals (that's about 1 UJC professional for every 4 Yemenite Jews who have been projected to have arrived in America thus far) were engaged on the subject. Mismanagement? A lack of priorities? Chaos? All of the above?

Will the recent arrivals in America be paraded out at the GA as an example of a Jewish Federations of North America "triumph" of some kind? Or is the effort such an actualization of failed expectations that The Jewish Federations of North America will just let it fade away?

Where are the Yemenite Jews? And, where has the money gone?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One by product of the name change will be that everytime the national organization does something irrelevant, dumb or just plain wrong it will reflect on the local federations who's name they carry. Now maybe Federations will demand the accountability and excellence they so deserve.

oh, and at the GA, the Yemini's can present the hero award to the Chabadniks.

note to GA staff: just kidding!