Allyson Rowan Taylor has sent the following letter to www.jewishvoiceny.com, finally breaking the silence of her most unpleasant encounter with Mort Klein and how it ruined her activism career. Save the ZOA thanks her for speaking out when so many are intimidated from doing so. If you have been a victim of Mort’s abuse, share your story. Write to Steve at email@example.com.
I was approached about 5 years ago to interview for the job of Executive Director of the ZOA Los Angeles by a large donor that I had a relationship with. I was the former Associate Director of the American Jewish Congress in Los Angeles, and was a Co Founder of StandWithUs.
I had met and worked along with ZOA on the college campuses and had co sponsored many events with their Campus Director, Julie Sager. I had met Mort Klein many times, but never had a close relationship with him until I was to meet him at the Luxe Hotel for my first interview.
I had received a salary at the AJC of $50K annually, until they decided to scale down operations in Los Angeles, and agreed to a meeting based on a projected income via Mort Klein of $70,000.00 plus benefits. I went the initial meeting and met him at the bar of the Luxe where we had our initial conversation. He was courteous and agreed to the terms of my potential future at ZOA. He asked that we have a second meeting, and I went back there to discuss the job, and what was going to be expected.
He complemented me on my attire, and how I looked, and I was not fazed by this. However, later in additional meetings he told me that due to budgetary restraints, that the salary had been decreased to 40,000.00 and that on some occasions, we may have to share a hotel room. I was stunned, but due to my relationship to the donor, and his relationship to the Jewish community I choose to keep this to myself, and knew that I would refuse the job. I told him I needed time to decide, and did not call him back. He called me a week later and I told him that the salary was inadequate. I did not address how uncomfortable I felt with his stating the room sharing, as he and I are both married. I soon got a phone call that uninvited me to a Bar Mitzvah the donor was giving, and started to become persona non grata in the inner circles where Mort was involved. I told a few people who are very established in the community about the conundrum I faced, and was told not to speak out. However, my reputation was damaged and I was unable to get back into the Jewish activist community. I was enraged, and told the donor about the incident, and instead of support for me, I was removed from mailing lists and not invited to many of the community events that I was so much a part of. I told my former boss at the AJC, and Georgette Gelbard about this, as they were both acquaintances of Mort and I. This info can be substantiated if necessary.
I decided after many years of being out of the community loop to speak up when I read about Steve Goldbergs concern the direction that ZOA was taking, and decided not to speak Loshen Hora, but discuss the character of the man who is holding the leadership. I called Steve after seeing the article in the Jewish Journal, and have decided after many years of silence to speak out on behalf of the women who have worked with Mort and put up with his mental, and verbal abuse.
Allyson Rowen Taylor