Let’s face it. John Ruskay is a tough act to follow.
The CEO and executive vice president of UJA-Federation of New York, the largest local charity in the world, is stepping down at the end of June, after 15 years in his post, having built and solidified a reputation as a leader in his field. He has successfully combined intellect, passion, compassion, managerial skills, innovation and a strong Jewish sense of peoplehood and collective responsibility. Those qualities define his vision and the institution he has led.
Some major shifts in Jewish life happen in dramatic fashion, others less so.
In recent days details are slowly emerging about a major initiative being undertaken by the government of Israel, in consultation with American Jewish leaders, to invest more than $1 billion over the next two decades to strengthen Jewish identity among young people in the diaspora between the ages of 12 and 35.
Gary Rosenblatt’s column last week focused on the disturbing effort by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate to monopolize and centralize its power, and the passive response of its partner in North America, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), with more than 1,000 member Orthodox rabbis (“Time To Stand Up To The Chief Rabbis,” Jan. 10).
That line from an old ballad, cited by U.S. military hero Gen. Douglas MacArthur in his farewell address to Congress in 1951, could well be applied to Ariel Sharon. The larger-than-life Israeli general, statesman and prime minister, who began his long, slow fade from the public conscience eight years ago, will be remembered as a man who made history, both in war and in politics. Praised or reviled, he was a commanding presence, a leader who usually got his way.