15 December 2008

Unemployed Mergers & Acquisitions Professional? Apply Here

I just received an interesting phone call from Johanna Ginsberg at the New Jersey Jewish News. It seems Rabbi Eric Yoffie (President of the Union for Reform Judaism) gave a sermon on Friday night at the URJ Board meeting in Tampa. The URJ press office sent out two press releases (1, 2) on Friday afternoon to the local papers - although nothing to me or to URJ members.

The first press release, I think, gives a reasonable summary of the whole sermon, placing concerns about the economy's effect on our Movement and its member congregations in context with realistic expectations of the new Obama administration.

The second, however, seems a bit more alarmist - pulling out of context a statement that I assume was meant by Rabbi Yoffie to reassure URJ lay leadership that member congregations were taking the current economic crisis seriously and looking with an open mind for solutions.
Not surprisingly, the NJ Jewish News picked up on the "Rabbi Yoffie calls on congregations to merge" aspect, rather than the meat of the sermon. That was the gist of Johanna's questions to me. I gave a rather vigorous defence of small synagogues as the place that people need MORE in difficult economic times, not less - and that it was not a case of: If we have a Wal-Mart why do we need a Mom&Pop store? We are certainly not opposed to joint programming and sharing resources - which we have explored in the past - but seek to do so on ideological, rather than economic grounds. The "services" provided at other congregations are certainly not the same as the services we have every Shabbat.

I am suprised that the URJ press office chose to spin things as they did in the "economy" press release. The tone seems a bit defeatist and would only serve to irritate member congregations. I don't blame the NJJN for the tack it decided to take, it seems to have been provided to them by our own press release.

I look forward to reading the article later this week.

1 comment:

  1. I should note that I received a courteous reply from Rabbi Yoffie soon after I e-mailed him.