The New York response endorsed on the pages of The Jewish Week and The Forward (http://forward.com/articles/191917/eric-goldstein-new-york-federation-chief-is-not-ou/?p=all) I think can be boiled down to this: "it's no one's business but ours; we hired the best person for the position, the best person for NY." And, the implicit addendum: "If it's bad for the Jewish communal professionals, let them eat cake" or something like that. (If I am misinterpreting the New York response, someone will surely let me know.) And, this is New York leadership's right, of course, as it would be for any federation. But I, like many of you, would like to know that the implications for the communal system of the hire of an "outsider/insider" as opposed to promoting one of UJA-NY's brilliant senior professionals or even engaging a senior professional from outside New York City were considered, debated and rejected.
But New York-UJA's leaders owe us no explanation whatsoever; and we aren't going to get one. Ricky (I don't know why but that sobriquet, nickname or nom de plume eludes me) will be judged by his success, by the achievement of the goals he has articulated and the goals established by his lay leadership. The concerns expressed by me and others, including those who commented on the relevant Posts of this Blog, have been with the impact of the New York and, before, so many other similar federation search results on the Jewish communal service profession -- what ejewishphilanthropy correctly identified as a "tsunami." (Quotes from the ejp analysis appearing in JTA, were censored in later editions of that story excising the impact on the profession, at the demand of whom exactly?) The best and most successful Large City federation chief professional leaders in and of our federations today were all -- each and every one of them -- professionals from within our system. Nasatir, Hoffman, Terrell, Shrage, Ruskay, Solomon, Kleinman, Kaufman and many, many more. At smaller but very important federations, I have to come to know so many more who view their profession and the work to which they have dedicated their lives as sacred. But, the more are becoming fewer and fewer still. And when a Ruskay signals that continuing the "tsunami" in New York City is just fine, the profession trends toward further diminution, even irrelevance.
And, if this deconstruction is an issue, where is the debate? And who will or can lead it? Certainly not JFNA whose CEO was hired as a direct result of the desire to go "outside the box" for the professional leadership that JFNA isn't getting today...and where the decision to hire Jerry -- not Jerry per se, but Jerry as one from "outside" the federation system -- was never debated by any leadership group (as that would have breached the requisite "confidentiality" of the Search "process" -- see, you can only "trust" the Search Committee [or more likely some "special" subgroup thereof] to maintain that Confidentiality). And, because there has been ("can't be") no debate, the "system," if there still is one, has gone along to get along with every hiring decision made by a small leadership group in every community regardless of size.
As we have pointed out, there is not one example as yet of communal success in a federated community which has chosen as a new Chief Executive Officer one with no prior real experience as a communal professional. May Eric Goldstein and New York UJA-Federation be the first.