Menu JTA Search

Top executive leaving UJA as search process continues

NEW YORK, Dec. 20 (JTA) — In the latest high-level personnel change to hit the Jewish fund-raising establishment, Bernard Moscovitz has resigned as executive vice president of the United Jewish Appeal to accept an executive post at the American Associates of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. “It’s a tremendous institution that’s growing tremendously,” Moscovitz said in a telephone interview, calling the change “an incredible opportunity.” The move comes as a search committee is narrowing down a list of potential candidates for the chief executive post of the new entity to be formed through the merger of the UJA and the Council of Jewish Federations. UJA President Richard Wexler, in a statement announcing Moscovitz’s departure, praised him for “spearheading the organization’s marketing and communications efforts.” Moscovitz, who has a background in advertising, was the UJA’s first national director for marketing prior to being named as executive vice president in 1994. He will take over as executive vice president and chief executive officer at the American fund-raising arm of Ben-Gurion on Jan. 19. In his stead, Lee Twersky, UJA’s vice president of finance and administration, will “carry the baton” handed him by Moscovitz. But Twersky, who has been with the UJA for 14 years, says he is “just assuming the role” until a new executive officer is appointed for the merged entity. UJA, which raises funds for overseas Jewish needs, and CJF, which represents Jewish federations in North America, entered a partnership in June with the United Israel Appeal, which funnels money raised by the federations and UJA to the Jewish Agency for Israel. That partnership, currently being called the UJA Federations of North America, will be formalized in a corporate merger sometime next year. UIA’s integration into that “new entity” is now the subject of what insiders call “intense conversation.” Moscovitz is the second executive to leave the partnership since its formation. Martin Kraar stepped down as the top professional at CJF in July to take over the helm of the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science. Jay Yoskowitz, then CJF chief operating officer, took over from Kraar as executive vice president. Moscovitz’s departure came as little surprise to those who had worked with him during his four years at UJA. He did not seek and was not considered to be a candidate for the top executive post of the new merged entity. The search committee, chaired by lay leaders Daniel Shapiro of New York and Richard Pearlstone of Aspen, Colo., has spent the past four months looking for a professional leader who is both willing and qualified to direct the mammoth entity, which will help manage the fund-raising campaigns and social service activities of some 200 Jewish communities. Shapiro said the list of candidates includes “more than one and less than 10” names from both inside and outside the UJA-federation system. Wexler said in a telephone interview that he expects the search to conclude by February, which was originally set as the goal for finalizing the merger. That date has been pushed back to April 1999. Meanwhile, legal and financial agreements, as well as a mission statement, are being prepared currently in the national office, and will be dispersed to federations in North America for ratification. The reasons for the extended time frame are several, but those engaged in the business of the merger insist it is not a sign of problems and that all partners are, in Wexler’s words, “moving quickly in toward the ultimate creation of the new entity.” Wexler said the date was pushed back because during the month of November most of the partnership’s lay and professional leaders were in Israel for a series of annual meetings, including the federations’ General Assembly. Jeffrey Solomon, a consultant to the partnership, said extra time is needed to give the federations, who must ratify the merger, an opportunity to study the guiding documents now being created. Solomon, who is president of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, has been “on loan” to the partnership for the past three months. His colleague there, Liz Jaffe, who temporarily worked for the CJF as a consultant on the General Assembly, has been offered a position as CJF’s director of program development. Solomon discounted the idea that the foundation’s growing influence at the partnership is an “advance guard” for either his or Bronfman’s taking permanent roles with UJA Federations of North America in the near future. “That’s one and one adding up to three!” he joked. Wexler would not say if Bronfman is in the running for the post-merger entity’s top lay position. “At this point in the nominating process,” he said, “if men and women of the caliber of Charles Bronfman make themselves available, it will say great things” about the new entity.

NEXT STORY