Tuesday, December 1, 2009


A reader sent this Comment to the Blog:

Richard, your post raises a couple of questions both factual and historical:

Does the JFNA by laws explicitly say that officers must be from communities in good standing?

What is the vetting process used by national agencies to ensure nominees of the highest communal and interpersonal standards?

In the old days how did national UJA vet its officers for personal standing in their home communities? As an out to pasture old timer I seem to recall a UJA player or two who where not on the best of terms with their local Federations.

These questions are relevant to a number of issues and deserve response. While I could speculate as to whom sent this list, given the "slant" of the questions, several names suggest themselves, but..never mind.

The Fair Share Dues Resolution adopted (I think unanimously) by the then UJC almost six years ago provided in pertinent part that a federation failing to pay dues that has not received hardship relief from the Financial Relations Committee after receiving notice of default "loses all benefits of membership." Among those "benefits" is service of any of its federation members on The Jewish Federations of North America Board, Committee or as an officer. When a number of federations (i.e., Detroit, South Palm Beach) threatened a unilateral reduction of Dues or non-payment, they were themselves explicitly threatened with the expulsion of their sitting Board members, Women's Philanthropy and Young Leadership Cabinet participants and more.

But, even absent the Fair Share Dues Resolution, would it make sense to have officers serving The Jewish Federations of North America whose federations fail to pay Dues? That would merely serve to discredit the organization, wouldn't it?

This Commentator then used curious phraseology in posing the next question: "What is the vetting process used by national agencies to ensure nominees of the highest communal and interpersonal standards?" (emphasis added) Did our correspondent mean to suggest that national agency Board members had to meet his or her subjective "highest communal and interpersonal standards" (whatever those may be)? Or was the reference to the common definition of "interpersonal standards" -- a reference to levels of competence? I will assume that the question was a serious one. I have served on the Boards of four national agencies; and on three of their nominating committees. Each made and makes a serious effort to engage men and women on their Board who have been (a) recommended by their local federation; (b) have some influence within their federations; and (3) will serve as advocates for the agency within the community. If by "the highest...interpersonal standards," our correspondent meant "someone who will quietly go along," that has neither been a criterion for agency Board service nor a qualifying competence in my experience.

Over my decades of involvement, I knew of no UJA officer who was "...not on the best of terms with their local Federations." To the contrary, UJA officers over the quarter-century of my involvement were to a person men and women who were leaders in their own federations first and UJA officers second. To imply otherwise, in an Anonymous Comment of all things, is just plain wrong. I vividly remember so many meetings, looking around the UJA Board room from my unique position and seeing it filled with federation leaders, men and women, young and old, who shared common passion, mutual respect and common commitment to those of our People most in need.

What might be better than that?


No comments: