[Archived from September 25, 2009]
DIARY OF A MAD JCL VOLUNTEER
Editor’s Note: Through this column, elected members of the Jewish Community of Louisville Board provide updates on progress made since JCL’s formation and share their thoughts with readers.
By Douglas S. Gordon
(Wed. 11:30 p.m.) Dear Diary: *OYG! My article for Community is due tomorrow! Why did I wait until the last possible moment to write it? It’s like being in High School all over again when my English teacher assigned a term paper due in six weeks and I would procrastinate for five weeks and six days before even considering the topic.
Do you hear that? It’s my Mother’s nagging voice inside my head, “Why do you always wait until it’s too late? Some things never change,” she kvetches. Ah ha! That’s it, the title for my article – SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE – thanks Mom!
(*Note to Diary: OYG stands for Oy Gevalt! and for purposes of religious alliteration replaces the usual OMG! which in the world of text messaging stands for Oh My G-d!)
(Wed. 11:31 p.m.) Dear Diary: Exhausted from developing the title! So I took a break and went to the ‘fridge for leftover Carnegie Deli from trip to NYC to visit my son Evan who just graduated from Syracuse University and landed a big advertising job in Manhattan. With his brother Brian’s college tuition, they’re costing me a small fortune – OYG! (This entry is dedicated to proud Jewish Grandmothers everywhere).
(Wed. 11:32 p.m.) Dear Diary: Back on track! I have been involved in the merger between the Federation and JCC since talks began over two years ago. At that time, I was a vice president of the JCC, a real company man and proud of it! In the beginning, you had to choose sides, put one stake in the ground for your agency and try to drive the other stake through the heart (figuratively of course) of the person across the boardroom table.
Today, the mindset has changed. We’re coming around to the notion that our primary focus has to be on what’s best for the community.
We are trying, and believe me, it’s neither easy nor quick, to build a new organizational model that makes sense for the future. Tough decisions have to be made ASAP!
I will admit, as a self-proclaimed boardroom terrorist, this process is taking far too long, but my colleagues constantly remind me to keep taking my medication and it all will work out. Admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery. “Hi, my name is Doug and I’m a compulsive JCL board member!”
To facilitate change, we are in the process of hiring a consultant to speedily help work us through our issues. Also, along with David Kaplan, I am in chairing the Search Committee for a new CEO. With the help of UJC’s Mandel Center for Excellence, potential change candidates will be presented to our committee within the next three weeks.
(Thurs. 12:10 a.m.) Dear Diary: Keeping our programming relevant is another overwhelming task. Pre-merger, matzo balls were catapulted across the parking lot between the Federation and JCC as each organization cooked up its own recipe for blue ribbon Jewish programming.
Post-merger, the JCL Programming Committee is working to reshape the Jewish programs offered to the community in a well-coordinated bipartisan effort. Down the road, we need to expand the programming brain trust to include community-wide participation from all agencies, synagogues and temples. I’m certain we could cook up exciting events, the likes of which we have never seen before in this community.
(Thurs. 1:30 a.m.) Dear Diary: Brain-dead! It’s time to put on the coffee and microwave some frozen coffee cake Karen craftily put in her purse from the Goldberg Bar Mitzvah.
(Thurs 2:07 a.m.) Dear Diary: This is the final entry for tonight and I saved the best for last! My Grandfather (#1 UJC card caller of all times) taught me that if you lay your cards on the table, you’ll never have to worry about telling a story – the UJC cards will speak for themselves.
So, let’s talk about Tzedakah! We need to remember where this all starts. If not us, who will provide care for our Jewish elderly, educate our youth about their Jewish heritage, offer Jewish cultural programs or maintain a facility like our JCC, the symbol of Jewish life in our secular community that welcomes all who walk through its doors and share in its programs and services, regardless of faith.
I have always contributed to the Campaign simply because that’s how I was raised and what I’ve always done; never considering the true impact my donation or failure to contribute may have on helping recipient agencies offer quality services to others. I believe many of my peers do the same. I call this “institutional Tzedakah.”
If I say Kosair Charities, the common response is helping medically disabled children. If I say American Cancer Society, the response is helping find a cure for cancer. However, if I say “Federation” to many of my peers, the common response is, “so and so made me mad, so I don’t give anymore” or “too much is spent on overhead” or “too much goes to Israel.” Who really wins when we think this way?
The JCL must become the change agent to remove these excuses and develop fresh and purposeful Jewish community charities. We cannot lose sight of the Campaign’s purpose.
When we speak about the JCL, here is the most important change we can deliver: Determine the needs of our community by reaching out to all within our community to develop a broad consensus of a vision that helps all community members, whether through community programs, agencies, religious institutions or physical facilities that will sustain a vibrant Louisville Jewish Community.
(Thurs. 6:32 a.m.) Dear Diary: OYG! My mother may have given me a bad idea for the first time in 51 years! Perhaps the title of my article should be, ALL THINGS CHANGE – WE CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN.
In this New Year, I hope each of you reading my diary will consider becoming a change agent for the Louisville Jewish Community. L’Shanah Tova!