Marla Gilson’s plight

Somehow you expect more from Jewish organizations when it comes to relations with employees – who, after all, are mostly in it because they care about communal causes, not because of the big paychecks and great benefits.

So it’s especially infuriating to read stories like Ron Kampeas’ long, depressing account of what’s happening to Marla Gilson, a veteran Jewish representative on Capitol Hill who has worked for AIPAC, Hadassah and now – unfortunately – serves as CEO of the Association of Jewish Aging Services.

That group, Ron wrote, unceremoniously dumped her when she got sick.

“Marla Gilson found out in January that she had acute leukemia,” Ron writes. “By March, she learned that her disease had cost her not only her good health, but her job leading an advocacy group for the Jewish aged.”

Gilson’s request to work from home during the critical recovery time after a bone marrow transplant was denied; so was her offer to use part of her salary to hire a consultant to fill in the gaps caused by her inability to get to the office.

Read Ron’s story; it will make you a little ill, but there’s also something awe-inspiring about the friends and colleagues who have rallied to Gilson’s support. And it says something important about Jewish groups that expect their employees to care about the cause, not just their paychecks – but who sometimes reserve the right to treat those employees just like any big for-profit corporation treats its lowliest workers.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.