When they say “all willing, step forward” and all your friends take one step back…

So I might as well just post this here, given that I’m about to post the letter I wrote.

Anyways, the new Director for Hillel is so fucked up that he’s caused serious damage on campus (actually, we have growing belief that he isn’t even Jewish to begin with, but that’s a whole other story); numerous people on the Adult Board (who are the board of adults in charge of hiring Hillel and telling Jordan what he has to do) have resigned. Today a good friend of mine, Heather, also resigned – she was the student president of Hillel, so my friends in Hillel had a meeting without me, and decided that I was going to be the one to write the letter to the adult board – who is already totally infuriated at Jordan because he let a student send an email with regards to a trip that Hillel was sponsoring this weekend that included things like “We’re going to get wasted and go to strip clubs!!” – this went out to about 1,500 people; including parents, rabbis, and students on the list serve. Suffice it to say, the trip was cancelled, and Jordan’s angry at the board for canceling it.

Anyways, I was asked to write the letter describing the situation as it stands; I believe I just lost my 14.95 rice maker in the process, given that it was a casualty of the Sukkot Incident of ’06, but it’s okay, I was going to have to sell it in a year anyways, and what’s a used 14.95 rice maker go for these days anyway? I’ll make do with using the stove.

So, without further ado, is the letter. Thanks to katancelt for continuing to act as my Editor. I promise I’ll let you have the nicer card board box when we live next to each other on the street.

To the Adult Board, Heather & Brian,

I need to make this incredibly clear: Hillel of Buffalo is in a crisis.

Unfortunately, this crisis is not caused by Anti-Semites, Pro-Palestinian Radicals, Hezbollah Supporters, or even Neo-Nazi’s on
campus. Rather, this danger to our community is Jordan A. Richmond.

When Jordan was hired, he was one of two applicants; however when you pick the lesser of two poisons you are still, indeed, picking a poison.

It is unfortunate that I was not present at his interview, because despite my lambasting of the candidate that I met, she should have been hired over him. No matter how awful she could have possibly been, she would have, in no way, ever been able to cause damage to the sheer magnitude that Jordan has managed to reach. What he has been able to destroy in one semester is staggering. In fact, I’m glad that Mr. Richmond considers himself Jewish – despite a total lack of Jewish Education, Culture or Connection to the Jewish Community – I can only begin to imagine the terror he would unleash on this campus if, in fact, he were on the other side and an anti-Semite.

Our Hillel is decimated. Do not delude yourselves into thinking
otherwise. Do not let him sugar coat for you a pill which is deadly to
swallow. While Jordan’s administrative qualifications remain unclear – at best, he’s been vague about them, and at worst he’s lied. His
qualifications to lead a Jewish organization, are non-existent. He has no Jewish education and no real Identity other than the mask he shows to the outside world.

Jordan claims to have been in the camping industry for 22 years. At his current age, that would mean that he was a camping professional at age 5. How industrious. He says that for these twenty two years – starting as a gifted five year old executive – he spent them in the Jewish Camping Industry.

However, he has no ability to read Hebrew, knows none of the blessings – which he would be required to say at least two times a day regardless of whether or not he knows Hebrew, and as a Fifth Year Linguistics Student with a passing familiarity of Child Language Acquisition Theory I put forth that it would stand to reason that he would – at that early of an age – at least be able to memorize the prayers he was saying two to three times a day for twenty two years, unless either a) he was not in fact in Jewish camping or b) he was in Jewish Camping, perhaps as a janitor or c) he wasn’t paying attention for twenty-two years, either way, none of these paints a promising picture.

He claims to have a successful company in Colorado, whether you believe that is open to your personal belief (though perhaps a five year old camping executive prodigy is capable of such things) however I – and others who have no confidence in him – believe that his application to Hillel was nothing more and nothing less than a final act of desperation.

I would understand why he applied to Hillel if previously he had any connection to the Jewish community – which he does not – and after making some good money, wanted to give something back, and so chose to take a three year long sabbatical to help and to connect with youth. He repeatedly refers to the time he worked for the YMCA; I have never heard him mention the YMHA.

In a meeting I had with him over Coffee I questioned him about this and he said, quote “I’m here for three years so I can better understand and recruit college students for my company…I can say I have Jewish students from Hillel and set them up with camps…I can forge a relationship with my company and Hillel.”

Jordan’s motives are obvious even to the casual observer. Since day one he has had his interests – not the safety or the interests of the students for which he is supposed to work and represent, ahead of theirs. It is an embarrassment.

Moreover, he has consistently changed his story for how long it took him to acquire his degrees. I have been told by him, that it has taken him seven years for his first degree and one year for his second degree, other students have been told that it took him four years for each and others different figures and percentages all amounting to a total of eight years. Regardless of how long it took him is not of concern to us – we honestly don’t care – it’s a blessing that he received them. We question what he’s hiding or if he’s even received these degrees at all in the first place at this point – the fact that he is so evasive about what should be his credentials gives us great cause for concern.

Jordan has proven his incompetence on multiple occasions.

At what has come to be known ‘The Camp Lakeland Fiasco’ among the students, a student from AEPi was hazed. The student was left, on a freezing cold night, in the middle of the woods, without his glasses, and without a flash light, in the darkness, and left there to find his way home. He came home, hours later, his body cut up, and thorns embedded in his legs – he had to wait until he returned home to UB almost a day later to be able to seek out care.

Jordan understood that this was going on, to claim otherwise would have meant that he was blind. He said nothing. I can only assume through his silence that he condoned these activities. I base this assumption further on how proud he was when he told me of his own horrific hazing while he was involved in a fraternity. There is nothing Jewish about humiliating another person, it stands against everything our faith has taught us. Further, since Mr. Richmond is the adviser of AEPi he too is culpable for their behavior. As the Jewish ‘adult’ – and I use that term incredibly loosely – representing Hillel on the trip, he had an obligation to look out for the safety and well being of the student and he did neither. He should be ashamed, and the apologies from him, at this stage in the game, are nothing more than lip service. If the student decides to sue Hillel I have no doubt in my mind that he will win and I would support him fully if he chooses to seek restitution.

Further, the fact that Mr. Richmond consistently disappeared on this trip, on a camp ground that took up hundreds of acres, with no cell phone usability, and limited access to telephones was dangerous. Had an emergency occurred, there would have been no way to assure that help would be able to be quickly mobilized. In an emergency, every second counts. As someone who says they are Red Cross Certified, Jordan should have known better.

I was personally accosted by a parent for inappropriate emails that went out on the list serve by his ‘Fellows’ that were supposed to be under his direction. The student’s mother stormed the office and berated me for over twenty minutes and demanded to know who was in charge, when I informed her that it was Mr. Richmond – who was not present – she demanded to know if he was a student, and was appalled to find out that he was a hired ‘professional.’ She is a graduate with two degrees from the University and was stunned to find that the only thing being done on campus was Hookah nights.

Another student (who asked to remain nameless) has her parents donating to her sisters Hillel at Albany, they refuse to donate to our Hillel because of our lack of Judaism and the total lack of professionalism. What they view as a lack of professionalism, you’d have to ask them.

During Sukkot Mr. Richmond served imitation crab meat in the Sukkah and stored it in the fridge. Most, if not all, imitation crab meat contains crab extract and flavoring which is not kosher. This product was stored in the refrigerator at Hillel, which is has had so much questionable food stored in it, that it is no longer Kosher.

Mr. Richmond regularly acts unprofessionally – despite claims that he is an ‘amazing manager’ his actions – which are the only thing that one should ever be judged on – say otherwise. He constantly attempts to play students off one another, to no success – students talk, we know what he’s up to. When a student ever expresses any concern, Jordan’s immediate reaction is “Do you hate me or what!?” – whether we hate him or not should not be his concern, it his job to act professional, not like an undergraduate frat boy, it is unfortunate that he has not been able to make this distinction.

Despite the numerous times he has waxed eloquent about his worldly experience, his inappropriate behavior shows a much more sinister side. He has made sure to place paid Fellows around him (with the exception of one) who are nothing more than sycophants, serving to boost his ego and tell him how well he’s doing. No matter how many times the emperor was told he looked gorgeous, the fact of the matter was the he was wearing no clothes.

This semester, we have accomplished nothing because if the students suggest anything remotely Jewish we’re told that it’s “un-cool” or “un-engaging” when in reality Jordan doesn’t want to host a Jewish event because he doesn’t know what the event’s about. He has said in meetings with me and others, repeatedly, that Hillel’s biggest problem is that our name is Hillel.

Jordan wants to make Shabbat 360 an engagement event; however during the meeting where the students were attempting to plan the event, he repeatedly told us that Shabbat isn’t “engaging” and wanted to throw a party instead and call it a Shabbat Service. Shabbat Services are a religious function, not a show. If Mr. Richmond wanted to engage students through Shabbat Services, perhaps he should have stayed in New York State during Shabbat and held them regularly on campus, instead of Traveling on weekends to see friends and neglecting his responsibilities on campus as the Director of Hillel of Buffalo.

We’re sorry if Mr. Richmond doesn’t like the fact that Hillel is a Jewish organization as he regularly tells us that we are a “pluralistic organization” he has allowed it to become so pluralistic, that on the whole, Hillel of Buffalo is one step away from being Jewish in name only.

For some, on this international campus where over 180 countries are represented at last estimate, he is the first Jew anyone will ever meet. Imagine the damaging impression he has now left of our community. For him to say “having a Rocking Yom Kippur” indicates such a level of naivety, I can only imagine what he would say to someone who is sitting Shiva. The damage to the community by his ignorant and foolish behavior is manifest.

Jordan is impossible to work with because he chooses to be militantly ignorant. He refuses to take anyone’s advice and leaves people with a nice amount of lip service while nothing ever changes or is actually accomplished, he is all aftertaste with no actual content.

Mr. Richmond will consistently say that we are “co-chair” of the campus recycling program. Please ask him what that means and what, as co-chair, we have accomplished other than receiving another title. We have had so few Shabbat services this semester that we are loosing students rapidly and it is not, as Jordan wishes people to believe, that we’ve engaged so many students so rapidly, that we’re loosing them. It is because it is Mr. Richmond that is doing the engaging, and he doesn’t know what he’s engaging them for.

Despite Jordan’s claims of working 16 hours a day students who were assigned community service hours to Hillel as of two weeks ago, had not had their forms processed through UB’s Computer System despite completing their Community Service hours, because Jordan was tardy with the paperwork and then complained bitterly when students asked him again to submit it. These students financial aid, housing, December graduation, course registration, ability to eat, depend on that paperwork being turned in.

I, and the other students, hold him personally and financially responsible for any late fees associated with this gross dereliction of duty, that are imposed by the university on these students, and we have directed those students to seek legal counsel from Group Legal Services on campus as required by their individual situations.

When Heather McArthur was going to go to the board to tell them what was going on, Jordan asked her to lie and say that “nothing was going on” it was all “restructuring” but this is again, behavior that we see from someone who is totally desperate.

It is time for the Students of Hillel of Buffalo to reclaim and re-anoint the Jewish Soul on this campus. It is time for Jordan to be excused, not at the end of the year, not at the end of the semester, but now.

If he is unable to be terminated for breech of contract due to his conduct, jeopardizing a students life or any other of his numerous questionable acts than it would behoove us just to buy out his contract, and be done with him. I assure you the damage he will cause to our reputation if he stays here far outweighs whatever we would be paying him over his three year tenure. Our investment in his termination will be the best investment we have ever made.

For the Majority,

Matthew L. Schwartz (Matan Ar’ye Schwartz)