The editor of the Washington Jewish Week, Debra Rubin, saw that the UJC was changing its name, and pulled this editorial she wrote in 2002 out of her archives. The editorial is tied to the Jewish holiday of Purim, but I think the point — seven years later — is that it’s about time the UJC changed its name. Take it away Debbie …
It happened in the days of Ahashveros, whose royal throne was in Shushan. A decision was taken that no longer would the group that collected money for the benefit of the Jews, to help with their education, with their elderly, to help support their homeland and their brothers and sisters in faraway lands, the group that was known far and wide by the old and the young alike, the group whose initials were sometimes cited by the comics of the day, no longer would it have its name.
No, the young Jews of Shushan and the lands beyond it didn¹t like the name; they thought it elitist and stuffy. When they heard the name, or those well-known initials, they thought just of someone asking them for money. They thought it something to be cast away with the older generation.
And thus a new name was given; one that, it was believed, would give a stronger sense to community, that would make people feel more welcome.
And time passed, and there were those who liked the new name. But, there were also those who had no familiarity with it, and those who cleaved to the old name.
There were rumblings among the Jews of Shushan and the lands beyond that perhaps a mistake had been made.
OK, so this isn¹t a Purim spiel, but if it weren¹t so true, it would certainly have the makings of one.
By now, many of our readers will have realized that we¹re talking about the United Jewish Appeal, a brand name in the Jewish community if ever there were one. Three years ago, when the national UJA merged with the Council of Jewish Federations, leaders decided the new entity would carry the name United Jewish Communities.
As our tale here tells, the name just hasn¹t caught on. Ask the average Jew what UJA is, and most will probably know that it¹s an organization that collects money for Israel; some will know that it raises funds for Jews locally and in other countries as well.
Ask the average Jew what UJC is, and you¹ll probably draw a blank.
Brand identity is important; major corporations spend millions of dollars to make sure their brands are in the limelight. The United Jewish Appeal name, which has been cited in Woody Allen movies, has that brand recognition that is coveted so dearly.
Some Jewish federations are asking UJC to revert to the UJA name.
Not only do we agree, but we think local Jewish federations should incorporate UJA into their own names as well.
By the way, happy Purim!