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Insider: UJC a ‘stumbling bureaucracy’

by Brad A. Greenberg

January 17, 2008 | 3:51 pm

The Forward has a story on problems at the United Jewish Communities, the umbrella organization for Jewish umbrella organizations.

Adding to the tension, an anonymous, apparently insider blog has begun to attract attention among leaders nationwide, airing charges of UJC indirection and low staff morale.

UJC has been criticized as ineffective and inefficient almost since its formation in 1999 through a merger of three predecessor agencies, the United Jewish Appeal, United Israel Appeal and Council of Jewish Federations. UJC’s current president and CEO, Howard Rieger, has attempted, since taking office in 2005, to restructure and streamline the agency, but his tenure has been marked by turmoil. A number of senior professionals have left UJC since Rieger’s arrival; the local Detroit federation is in rebellion over its dues to UJC, and several other federations have protested the dues formula. Meanwhile, the annual fundraising campaign has stagnated, and allocations to overseas beneficiaries, the charities’ signature cause, have been dropping.
The organization has also been accused of being closed and resistant to criticism. Now, however, long-rumored internal complaints are being aired in the new blog.

“Notwithstanding the hopes of the federation system and the merging organizations that created United Jewish Communities in 1999, any fair review of its ‘accomplishments’ since its founding would have to conclude that UJC has been a costly bust,” said the opening post to the blog, which calls itself Disunited Jewish Communities. “What UJC is today is nothing more than a stumbling bureaucracy that can’t get out of its own way.”

I don’t cover national Jewish organizations, so I don’t know if it’s true. But I’m not sure even Stanley Gold speaks that bluntly.

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