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October 17, 2003 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-10-17

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Opening At UJC

Detroit Federation's Aronson among those
speculated-to replace top national executive.


Jewish Telegraphic Agency

New York
ust four months after the top
executive of the United
Jewish Communities federa-
tion umbrella group unveiled
his vision for the federation system, a
search has begun to replace him.
Speculation on his replacement
includes Robert Aronson, chief exec-
utive officer of the Jewish
Federation of
Metropolitan Detroit.
Stephen Hoffman, the
president and chief execu-
tive officer of the UJC,
who is respected for his
steely resolve, managerial
and fund-raising expertise
and prowess for grooming
Jewish professionals
nationwide, took over a
flagging federation system Aronson
for a three-year stint in
November 2001. Now, that stint is
coming to an end.
Despite all the personal and profes-
sional praise he has received,
Hoffman also has heard an earful of
criticism about the UJC — the 4-
year-old merger of the United Jewish
Appeal, the Council of Jewish
Federations and the United Israel
Appeal — from the individual feder-
ations that own the North American
system and the UJC's many benefici-
ary agencies.
In June, Hoffman presented a
vision to constituents that included
three general "areas of focus."
In addition to reducing its budget
by nearly 10 percent, the UJC, he
said, should be- a "vehicle for global
Jewish responsibility," an engine of
innovation and an organization that
must strengthen the federations by
offering them improved services and
top-notch professionals.
The move was, in part, a response
to vigorous complaints — that the
system was bloated and lacked focus,
failed to fund its overseas partners
sufficiently, inadequately served the
federations and excluded smaller fed-
erations from decision-making
Now, observers say, the new leader


who will replace Hoffman will play a
pivotal role in shaping the UJC's
future — one that has been called
seriously into question by many frus-
trated Jewish professionals.

Search Committee

Robert Goldberg, UJC's chairman-
of-the-board-designate, who also is
heading the search committee to
replace Hoffman, would not corn-
ment on the contenders for the posi-
But national federation
insiders confirmed that
the following names are
being discussed: the
Detroit Federation's
Aronson; Steven Nasatir,
president of the Jewish
United Fund-Jewish
Federation of
Metropolitan Chicago;
John Ruskay, executive
vice president and CEO
of the UJA-Federation of
New York; and Jacob Solomon, exec-
utive vice president of the Greater
Miami Jewish Federation.
"It's nice to be viewed as one of the
potential candidates for the position,
and I certainly consider -it compli-
mentary," Aronson told the Detroit
Jewish News Wednesday from his
office in the Max M. Fisher
Federation Building in Bloomfield
Township. "As I understand it, the
search committee is now just being
formed, and I really cannot comment
at this time on my level of interest in
the position in the event that I was
According to several insiders who
talked to JTA, Aronson is eager for
the position, but he would not say so
publicly. "Obviously, I do care a lot
about the organization. It's an
extremely important job," Aronson
told JTA.
Asked about the role of Hoffman's
successor, Aronson said, "The most
important thing is to make sure UJC
remains and continues to develop as
a strong national organization."
Lawrence Jackier, president of the
Detroit Federation, told JTA he did-
n't think Aronson was interested in
the job.
Jackier said he has had numerous

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