The Ability to Generate Confidence

an opinion piece from Dan Brown, founder of eJewish Philanthropy:

They say the ability to generate confidence is a leadership trait – and I agree. As such, and from where I sit, two of the largest Jewish organizations in the world have a serious leadership problem. The two: Hadassah – the Women’s Zionist Organization of America and Yeshiva University. Frankly speaking, the leadership of both must think we are all fools.

In the aftermath of Madoff’s exposure, both organizations announced significant losses, $90 million and $110 million respectively. Then Hadassah tried to spin the loss at only their $40 million investment and YU shortly thereafter at $14.5 million. First, what’s with their professional staff (we’ll come back at various times to Board oversight of all this). Can’t they count? Perhaps they should search the back alleys of New York for old-fashioned adding machines with the tape rolls.

Look, we’re not talking here of paper vs. real losses that effect tax liability. We’re talking tachlis – how decisions are made. How real cash money is spent. How much cash can Hadassah contribute to the hospital’s operating budget in a given year. How much student aid can YU absorb. The list is endless. Both organizations clearly made years of decisions based on the perceived value of their endowments – now they want us to forget all about those fictitious profits.

And while we are on the subject of instilling confidence, how can Hadassah build a magnificent Young Judaea campus outside of Jerusalem and then put it up for sale? Now? Only two years after the dedication, with Year Course setting attendance records no less?

Hadassah and YU are not the only ones playing this shell game – but from what I’ve seen, they are by far the largest – and both deserve “Razzies” for handling their public relations efforts in 2008.

BTW, I have a Bridge for sale.