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April 09, 2004 - Image 20

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-04-09

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New Leader


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Veteran federation professional to head
United Jewish Communities.

Special to the Jewish News

Jewish Appeal and United Israel
Appeal, still is struggling to define
he North American federa-
Despite the respect commanded by
tionsystem has tapped a
Hoffman, individual federations have
veteran federation profes-
complained about inadequate services
sional to become its new
and high UJC dues.
president and CEO.
UJC's overseas partners, the Jewish
After some six months of searching,
Agency for Israel and the American
an internal United Jewish
Jewish Joint Distribution Committee,
Communities committee unanimously have blamed the system for failing to
recommended an insider to succeed
boost funds for overseas needs from
Stephen Hoffman: Howard Rieger,
individual federations.
president of the United Jewish
With the UJC still at a critical junc-
Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.
ture, several say Rieger's lengthy expe-
Robert Goldberg, head of the search
rience in the system positions him well
committee and chairman of UJC's
for the job.
board, called JTA on March 30 with
"I think continuity at this point is
the news that the committee had
critically important, and Howard has
decided to offer the job to Rieger, who shown a dedication to the UJC that I
has said he will accept it.
think will help to ensure that kind of
The choice of Rieger, 61, continues
continuity," said the UJC's vice chair-
a tradition of picking federation sys-
man, Richard Wexler of Chicago.
tem heads from communities consid-
Wexler added that Rieger had been
ered large cities that contribute the
"instrumental" in the merger leading
bulk of funds the systems raise and
to UJC's creation and understands its
whose leaders make key decisions.
purposes. He also served as chairman
Rieger, who has headed the
of the publications advisory commit-
Pittsburgh federation since 1981, told
tee of the UJC's 2000-2001 National
JTA his interest in the job was based
Jewish Population Survey.
on his desire to make the most impact
Wexler has said that one of the
in the remaining years of his career.
merger's key purposes was to boost
The idea of "sprinting to the finish-
overseas allocations, which UJC has
ing line" was appealing, he said.
yet to do.
Rieger worked for 11 years in vari-
According to Rieger, the UJC still is
ous positions at the Cleveland federa-
enduring the aftermath of that merger
tion before heading to Pittsburgh. He
and trying to combine cultures of
joins what some jokingly call the
organizations with divergent orienta-
"Cleveland mafia" — both Hoffman
tions — overseas goals and domestic
and Goldberg also came from
"The national entity is still living
UJC's board of trustees still must
through a process that every federation
approve the appointment.
has already lived through and come
Asked if the board would approve
out the other end," he said.
Rieger, Goldberg would say only that
Rieger said he couldn't articulate his
it "will get a unanimous recommenda-
vision until he gets there, saying he
tion from the search committee. I
believes he first needs to determine if
think that says a lot."
"perceptions are balanced by the expe-
Among those considered on the
rience." But he did say that UJC needs
UJC's short list of candidates was
tremendous encouragement from
Robert Aronson, CEO of the Jewish
within" to establish the working rela-
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.
tionships to make the national organi-
Aronson was unavailable for comment
zation as prominent as the local feder-
over the Passover holiday.
ations are considered.
Reiger's transition, which will take
"I think the real issue for us more
place at the close of Hoffman's three-
than anything else is to say how do we
year term this summer, comes as the
create a reality that says that there's a
4-year-old UJC, a merger of the
tremendous value-added to the system
Council of Jewish Federations, United
by the existence of the UJC?"


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