Lay leaders of the American Jewish Congress appear to have one motto: “Never say die.”
Despite closing their offices and discharging 10 staffers last month as part of a reorganization,” the group’s president and at least one board member said they still believe the organization could rebound. But it will have to do it without Marc Stern, its general counsel for 11 years and the man who served as co-executive director for the past two year.
The American Jewish Committee announced Monday that Stern would join its organization in the newly created position of associate general council for legal advocacy. Stern was on vacation in Vermont and could not be reached for comment.
Richard Gordon, president of the AJCongress, said his board of directors would meet later this month to begin the process of authorizing severance payments for its former staff. He said two meetings of the board are required for that to happen.
Asked if he then expected the organization to go out of business after 88 years of operation, he said there are “other options for us to consider.”
“One would be to refocus the organization and hire a new executive director,” Gordon said. “Or we could merge with a similar organization.”
Asked if his organization’s debts and large pension obligations would be a handicap in arranging a merger, Gordon replied: “There are many different ways one can merge — where you take on liability and where you don’t. It depends on the negotiations.”
He insisted that the AJCongress has a “lot of things to bring to the table — a storied history and storied past that would make any organization stronger. And we have a lot of outstanding programs and wonderful people that any organization would love to have both domestically and internationally. They would be a credit to any organization. And the intellectual power of a number of our board members and other lay leaders around the world would also be an asset.”