While I found that the Argentina/Uruguay itinerary to be vexing, one can at least point to Jewish Agency and JDC programming there and, in Argentina, a large, vibrant Jewish community
An interested reader sent me the announcement by the UJA-Federation of New York of a Spring Mission...to Japan. I'm not making this up. Among the activities on this Federation Mission:
"You'll also meet with leading government officials and figures in the Jewish and figures in the Jewish community as you witness the impact of UJA's global work."Yes, as you witness the impact of UJA's global work.
Now there are still a lot of places where a visitor could witness the impact of UJA's global work...but, in all candor, Japan is not one of them.
And, why would it be?
In the World Jewish Congress' most recent Japan Country Report, the Jewish community of Japan is described as follows:
"According to the estimates of Hebrew University demographer Sergio Della Pergola's 'World Jewish Population, 2016,' Japan is home to between 1,000 and 1,400 Jews. Almost entirely composed of Jewish foreigners and expatriates." (emphasis added)The Report continues, describing this tiny group as "well organized and vibrant." Uh huh.
I have to admit to confusion when it comes to actions taken by New York UJA over the past few years. The federation discontinued its support of the system's national agencies through the now defunct Jewish Federations-National Agencies Alliance -- ostensibly a reaction to UJA's disproportionate funding of the Alliance. Once New York turned its back, withdrawiing its total support, on the Agencies, other federations followed suit; the Alliance collapsed.
And, this was only the starting point of UJA's deconstruction of its communal support of the collective.
Rumors abound that this year New York UJA will significantly reduce (1) its overseas allocations to the core budgets of the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee and (2) its Dues to JFNA. I hope these remain rumors, false ones, unsubstantiated ones, because, if true, the decades of New York's communal leadership of the collective response that is one of the core values of the federation system and a foundation stone of the merger of UJA and federation decades ago, will be no more.
As a student of our system I have always been wary of communities that applaud the success of their annual financial resource development but, at one and the same time, reduce their allocations to the collective instruments that these communities helped to create.
I remember back to the Council of Jewish Federations era. I served on the CJF Budget and Finance Committee for a decade or more. The deliberations were always serious and extended, in good faith and spirit. I also remember, as we were about to adjourn one year, New York lay and professional leaders burst into the Committee room to announce that the tentative Budget and, therefor, the Dues were "too high' and we were required to return to the table to reduce the Budget...which we did. Today?
So, now, a Mission to Japan, where you will be able to observe the impact of UJA's global work. How will the Mission participants do that? Maybe a slide show from where UJA's real work is being done. Maybe going to a place where UJA's global work is not being done will remind the communal leadership of what once was the communal n'shama...what once was.