Friday, July 26, 2013


Recently, the pros at JFNA convened Federation CEOs to realign Federation Governance participation -- weighted voting, etc. But it appeared to a number of the friends among the CEOs who called me that the whole purpose of the exercise was to "demote" St. Louis and Pittsburgh from the ranks of the Large Cities. Therein lies a bit of history with which I have some familiarity:

Back in the day, as they say, there were two federation CEOs beloved by their colleagues -- the wonderful Bill Kahn, of St. Louis, z'l, one of the giants (in stature in every way, in fact) of the field, and Howard Rieger, who had grown up as had so many federation CEOs,  among a brotherhood in the Cleveland federation, many  of whom were then serving as CEOs  in certifiable Large Cities. Now, neither Pittsburgh nor St. Louis qualified by Jewish population or Annual Campaign size as Large Cities, but, what the hell, the Large City federation CEOs were a literal "band of brothers," and like a fraternity, THEY would decide who joined and who didn't, and they voted in the two federation CEOs to join them in their Retreats, etc., just like good frat brothers.

Well, that was maybe thirty  years ago. Times changed, and neither Bill nor Howard remained CEOs of those fine communities. At the time of the merger, an attempt was made to "disinvite" the two federations from the Large Cities but those of us who considered the options felt there was enough on the plate in the merger and persuaded the Large City Executives to keep the two communities in the frat house. Now, in 2013, however, apparently the time had come -- the only argument after significant debate for not doing so appeared to be that proffered by CEO Jerry that "...their feelings would be hurt."

So, after 40 minutes of deliberation over Governance, weighted voting and City-size grouping, changes that should have been implemented 12 years ago -- basing City-size groupings and federation weighted voting strictly based on annual campaign and/or Jewish population were stymied by a "plea of rachmanis."

Justice averted.  The JFNA way.



Anonymous said...

Are there published guidelines that determine city size groupings and is there a list showing which federations are in which group? If it is anywhere on JFNA's website, it is deeply buried.

Anonymous said...

St Louis and Pittsburgh were large city Federations long before Kahn and Rieger worked in those Federations.

Anonymous said...

To the 2nd anonymous - By whose definition? Richard is absolutely correct. CJF had one definition and UJA had another. CJF's definition was clear. Large Cities as a grouping were based on two criteria with both being required to be met to be included. The community had to have a minimum population of 50,000 (or maybe even 55,000) plus it must also have had a campaign in excess of $15 million (I believe that was the threshold.) Whatever the threshold as far as the governance of CJF was defined neither St. Louis or Pittsburgh met the campaign threshold even though they met the population threshold. Other cities, notably Boca Raton, San Diego, and maybe one or two more met the population criteria but not the campaign and they too were not part of Large Cities. It is interesting to note that a few cities such as Indianapolis, Tulsa and some others far exceeded the campaign threshold for advancing to another group yet since they didn't have the population CJF blocked them from moving up one category as well.

On the other hand UJA had only one criteria - Campaign. While their criteria was based on campaign alone they did not appear to have a written criteria for what size the campaign had to be to be considered Large Cities. Since there was no written criteria and no legal issue to deal with such as number of board members or votes, etc. they could easily include whichever communities they wanted to include and with an attitude that the more the merrier they had no problem including any community - hence St. Louis and Pittsburgh and probably Minneapolis and one are two others always got invited to "play with the big boys" such as in Operation Exodus, etc.

As a close long time personal friend of the late Bill Kahn, I know first hand that St. Louis absolutely was not part of the Large Cities initially. I also know that Pittsburgh was not either. Because of who Bill was and where he was ultimately headed - UJA/NY - the Large Cities Executives voted him into their group - not into the legal definition of CJF. Once he left Pittsburgh and Howard followed the seat holder that Bill left was allowed to continue in the group but again not yet legally within the group. When Bill went to St. Louis from NY he was allowed to remain with the Large City execs because "he was already part of the group" not because of St. Louis being considered a large city. It is interesting to note that for the first 5-6 years that Barry Rosenberg was in St. Louis he was not allowed to attend the Large Cities Exec group until after the merger and the issue was forced.

Anonymous said...

I was an insider privy to the guidelines, which exist as an internal document. And as others have noted, we at UJC were quite aware of the CJF-UJA discrepancies. This impacts campaign totals as well, as they are tabulated somewhat differently.

Each City-Size category has certain population and campaign criteria that are supposed to be met. We were actively reviewing all Federations (not just Pittsburgh and St Louis) and revising the document to account for substantial revisions in some of the population estimates.

The population estimates themselves could be political footballs--communities could claim estimates just short of moving up to the next tier. While there is prestige in this, the counter is that the community would be expected to pay higher dues to UJC.

The first task afterwards was to work on "moving up" certain cities from lower tiers to higher ones (although not all the way to Large Cities).

And Pittsburgh and St Louis are indeed treated a bit differently, even though they were officially LC. Sometimes the LC folks left them out of some deliberations, as noted. In truth, it is well past time that they go down to the next tier.

So not a fun process, but these changes are well overdue.

Anonymous said...

Who is a large city is right up there with who is a Jew! Such an important issue - life changing - the fate of the Jewish world rests on its fair and judicious resolution.

Anonymous said...

Not that this really matters, but I am fairly certain St Louis was considered a Large City back with Marty Kraar was its exec.