Sunday, September 22, 2019


I have kvetched over time with the system's conscious abandonment of Israel as reflected by a series of Missions that never made it to Jerusalem, to Be'er Sheva, to Tel Aviv to Haifa...Israel never.

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 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.



Anonymous said...


You shouldn’t be confused.

Unfortunately, the last few sets of UJA leadership did not have a strong view on international allocations. They have consistently cut both JAFI and JDC, but more the latter. They also cut other international allocations last year without even telling the staff and lay committees in advance.

In its effort to seem more au courant, UJA has proliferated almost dozens of lay allocation and oversight committees. At last count, there were likely 30 or 40.

Their fund raising prowess lasted far longer than their focus on effective allocations and programming.

Anonymous said...

Richard please send all Feds’ your blindfolds, ear plugs and nose plugs so they can see the extremely dysfunctional historic partners like you and we can return to sending them blank checks!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to say so but this is ideological bankruptcy of what was once a federation system dedicated to Jewish Peoplehood - to the Jewish People in North America, in Israel and around the world.
It seems that Israel is now out and the rest of the world remains as a tourist stop for what used to be missions and are now more tourism than anything else.
JFNA has led the way down and now even federations like New York are beginning to waver and fall.
JFNA destroyed collective giving and campaigning for Israel and Overseas, changing even the name of "Israel and Overseas" to "Global Operations" but doing nothing except empire-building and expanding waste of valuable resources - accomplishing zero in Israel and globally.
Evey community and every person is following the lead and putting themselves first.
If I am only for myself who am I? You are nothing!
JFNA - Just Full of Nothing at All!

Anonymous said...

Now you can all vote where to go with each UJA division.
If not Hollywood, how about Cannes? Or some great film location?

From this morning’s UJA email:



We want to take you on an adventure, and we need your opinion!

Here at UJA, we do incredible work with many communities -- Jewish and secular. This amounts to some incredible insider information ... and connections. We use this knowledge when planning our missions. We have one in the works right now.

That's where you come in. We'd love if you could answer this five-minute survey and let us know where in the world you'd like to travel with us, for how long, and with whom. We want to create a trip that's perfect for you, so we need to hear your voice.

Thanks so much for your time, and hope to meet you at the airport!

The Entertainment, Media & Communications Team at UJA

Take The Survey

The Entertainment, Media & Communications Division (EMC) is planning a trip and would love your input! Whether or not you've traveled with us in the past, we'd really appreciate a few minutes of your time to help us identify the right destination and time frame for this adventure.

This mission will be open to any current or prospective donors of UJA. Thank you in advance for your time and answers.
Question Title
* 1. Which if any of these destinations are you interested in traveling to on a UJA EMC trip? Please check all that apply.

*all destinations will include unique experiences in the Entertainment/Media industries, as well as insight into UJA's life-changing work.

Anonymous said...

Our next mission will be to Sheol to see JFNA Global Operations in action!

RWEX said...

Friends, one of you just wrote , anonymously, but, I believe, misspelled either "Seoul" or "shul"-- you may wish to resend

Anonymous said...

No, it was SHEOL (Google it).
I didn't want to use the more common word, Hell, so I took a more Jewish route.

RWEX said...

Live and learn. Y'all teach me something new every day.

paul jeser said...


In my Fed days, about 2/3rd of funds raised by the Feds/UJA went 'overseas', the largest chunk going to support activities in Israel.

Today that % has dropped to probably around 10%.

If you watch this video, and you are of a certain age (i.e. altakokker), you might imagine that it was a UJA/Fed video from those earlier years. It is not - it is the latest JNF video.

Anonymous said...

Please share the Sheol comment!

RWEX said...

To Anon @11:31 p.m.: I will not publish your scurrilous and anonymous attack on a Copmment from one who has the courage to put his name on his correspondence. I noted that you also anticipated that I would not print your screed because I work with JNF -- you were correct.

Anonymous said...

Re Paul Jesser’s comments, please review the programming from

These programs are quite impressive and laudable and also appear to copy the work of Federations and JCC’s of year’s earlier

In fact, the organization appears to have been founded by Israeli’s nationally that felt abandoned by the Federation System

Are you a member of JNF leadership? The quality of their videos is quite impressive.

Anonymous said...

It is indeed good to see that other organizations are filling the vacum created by the failed merger and the negligence of our lay leadership in failing to keep our professionals on track with what was supposed to be our mission. At least others are fighting to keep that mission alive.
Our failure is criminal but let us hope that the success of others will save us.

Anonymous said...

Many of you may be aware of the latest controversial speaker in NYC

My question is where was JFNA and UJA New York in actively combating one of the most important US universities conferring such a dignified platform to an unrepentant anti-Semite?

Shouldn’t this be their role?

UJA - NY used to make non-sensical protests against meaningless issues like the Klinghoffer opera from John Adams, which most thought was trash opera in the first place. But, where are they on issues of substance?

Oh yes, conducting surveys on where their TV/Movie professionals should have an outing - Cannes vs Hollywood? (Thanks to your other reader)