If it was doubted before that social media breeds transparency, then the evidence is in Mobius‘ Twitter debates with William Daroff, head of the UJC. The summary: Daroff says the UJC represents all of and is entitled to speak for all of us, at least because they paid for grandma to move here from the old country; Mobius dissents. The juiciest part I excerpt below, but do read the whole thing:
Daroff: @mobius1ski Does Obama represent you? Did Bush? You might not agree w/everything we say or do – but we do represent you.
Mobius1ski: @Daroff Comparing UJC to elected officials is beyond hubris.
Mobius1ski: @Daroff My U.S. citizenship is a social contract w/ the gov’t. My Jewishness is not a social contract w/ UJC.
Daroff: @mobius1ski Didn’t mean to be hubrisy; simply stated: organized Jewish community endeavors to represent Jewish communal interests.
There’s more. Daroff needs a reality check. In his childhood, the federation may have been the be all, end all of Jewish communal life. But the past 20 years saw not just a boom of independent growth, but a decline of previous institutions. The federation system struggles to find not just funding, but a leadership that isn’t plauged with failure and embarassing turnover rates. (Worth mentioning here: yesterday the federation’s highest rising star Daniel Sokatch just left the SF Fed after less than a year to head the New Israel Fund.)
Meanwhile, after decades of stagnation, more than 300 new Jewish orgs have been founded in the past ten years alone, representing 400,000 Jews and $100 million, according to JumpStart’s 2009 social entrepreneurship report. These newcomers were founded to get away from the UJC and do work outside the consensus: AJWS, New Israel Fund, Jewish FundS for Justice, Progressive Jewish Alliance (founded by Sokatch), the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, J Street, the Limmuds, PresenTense, ad neaseum, all founded in the past 35 years. And of course, none of these orgs have a seat at the JCPA policymaking plenum or the Council of Presidents I might add further. Their umbrellas are pretty narrow.
It’s a product of our times as well as our generation, created to fulfill a vision for communtiy that the UJC didn’t have and wouldn’t seed. The UJC doesn’t represent me or anyone else who gives neither a dime nor a damn. (Okay, okay, I gave $5 to UJA-NY Fed once, but just so I could vote in the icky World Zionist Congress and undermine the right wing.) My money has gone to groups founded in the past 35 years and I’m hardpressed to find a legacy org worth saving. (Also an exaggeration, I like HIAS’ immigration work with non-Jews.)
Mobius was very kind to UJC to recognize the good work it did and does. But it’s not the model we need anymore, and I feel it’s not disrespectful to say “Thank you for your work, but it’s time to retire.” The federation is raising money from fewer and fewer donors, making Daroff’s claim to democratic mandate slimmer and slimmer. And personally, I find his haunty, self-important puffery the epitome of leadership I can’t admire.
Daroff, it’s a new era and you need to see your institution in relation to the changes afoot. Take it down a notch. Humility is in these days.