November 9, 2013

“Federation Follies”

Filed under: Federation people, found in the archives — susanwoodland @ 8:32 am

The Federation of Jewish Philanthropies subgroup contains the files from the Community Services division, and as part of the division, a number of staff members known as Associates from approximately 1977-1982.   Linda Feigenbaum (she became Linda Storfer in the summer of 1979) was the Government and Community Relations Associate during many or all of those years, and 6 bankers’ boxes of her files are being processed this month.  They fall into 2 sub-subseries: Jewish Community Centers and General Subjects.

Within the subject files, she has the usual subject headings of other staff members’ names, committee names and associations that she communicated with in the course of her work with Government and Community Relations matters but most files relate to Federation’s Community Relations issues.

One of the folders within the subject files, the only one labeled in red marker, is titled, “Federation Follies.” Just the “Federation” portion of the folder label showed while it was in the box. When I pulled the folder out, I gave it more attention than I might otherwise have, had it not included the word “Follies.”

On May 21, 1979 at 4:30 pm in the Warburg Room of Federation headquarters, a room usually associated with serious Distribution Committee meetings, about 20 staff members participated in the Federation Follies.

Federation Folies program

Front cover of “Federation Follies” program, 1979

Conceived and written by Paul Kushner, Joyce Levi, Al Schwarz and Barbara Tasch, the participants sang original words set to familiar songs.  We don’t have the words or the melodies to all of the songs, but the titles in the program give an idea of the fun this group had satirizing what they apparently loved about working at Federation: “Joint Purchasing to the Rescue,” “I Got the Pledge Right Here,” “Sandy’s [aka: Sandord Solender, EVP] Lament,” “Copy Center, We Love You,” “Songs We Didn’t Finish,” and the wonderful “If I Were a Consultant.” ‘Consultant’ was the title for many years of division heads like Martha Selig, Joseph Harris and Graenum Berger, sung to the tune of “If I Were a Rich Man”:

…all day long I’d bitty bitty bum
if I were a consultant
I wouldn’t  have to work hard
yaddle deedle diddle deedle diddle deedle diddle dum…

And our personal favorite from this folder, “Filing System.”

Lyrics to "Filing System," 1979

Lyrics to “Filing System,” 1979

Susan Malbin, Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, immediately recognized the melody as the one from “Mother”.  With her ace detective skills she located it quickly online.  All together now


1 Comment »

  1. The consultant referred to as Pomrinse in the song “Filing System” is actually Colonel Seymour Pomrenze, the subject of several previous posts to this blog. As you may remember the Colonel worked for many years as the Records Manager for UJA-Federation of New York and is for a large part responsible for the survival of the UJA-Federation of New York archives.


    Comment by susanwoodland — November 11, 2013 @ 9:42 am

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