There has been a change in leadership at the mid-Atlantic region of Chai Lifeline, a health support network that provides assistance to children with life-threatening or lifelong illnesses and their families.
According to an email from the Chai Lifeline CEO, the regional director and board members parted ways with the organization, but former board members say the director was fired and the board and staff quit in response.
In June, Chai Lifeline CEO Rabbi Simcha Scholar sent out an email saying that former Regional Director Tzvi Haber and a number of Mid-Atlantic advisory board members had “parted ways with the organization.”
“We thank them for their years of dedication and service and wish them all the best,” Scholar said in the email.
When asked to elaborate on the reasons for the departures, Matt Yaniv, Chai Lifeline’s chief marketing officer, said in an email that the organization generally does not comment on personnel matters.
According to Haber, he was terminated by Chai Lifeline, which “has not offered a cogent explanation,” he said.
Another email, signed by 15 former members of the Chai Lifeline Mid-Atlantic board, said the entire Mid-Atlantic board of directors, as well as the Baltimore-based staff, had resigned from Chai Lifeline as a result of Haber’s termination. It went on to say that Chai Lifeline cited a failure on Haber’s part to perform his job adequately as the reason for his termination.
“From our perspective, Tzvi’s job performance was nothing short of exceptional,” the former board members said. “We believe that his termination was unwarranted and negatively impacts the Chai Lifeline families and children, as well as the broader community.”
Ahuva Orlofsky, a former Chai Lifeline Mid-Atlantic board member, said in an email that Haber has the support of the local board and staff, as well as others involved in the organization.
“As a result of the vision and energy Tzvi brought to Chai Lifeline, countless children were supported during their extraordinarily difficult challenges,” Orlofsky said. “Unquestionably, many were surprised and disappointed in Chai Lifeline’s decision to part ways with Tzvi. He continues to have the unwavering support of the local board, workforce, volunteers and families.
“I have no doubt this will be the best for Tzvi as Chai Lifeline’s loss will be another organization’s gain,” Orlofsky added.
Haber was touched to know that so many board members and staff had resigned from Chai Lifeline as a result of his termination, he said.
“I understand many left the organization because of my forced departure,” Haber told the JT. “While I am humbled by everyone’s sense of support and passion, I really hope there is no gap in service to the more than 130 families our Region supports.”
Haber began at Chai Lifeline Mid-Atlantic as a volunteer when its offices opened in January 2016, he said. He was promoted to regional director in 2017.
“The work I did for Chai Lifeline was incredibly rewarding as our team brought joy and hope to children, families and communities impacted by serious illness or loss,” Haber said. “During my tenure, I oversaw the Region’s strategic vision, coupled with clinical services, community partnerships, fundraising efforts and personnel. This position was very rewarding.”
Currently, Haber has no desire to return to Chai Lifeline, he said, and he is focused on his next professional leadership opportunity.
Chai Lifeline has started a nationwide search to fill the available leadership roles in the region, Scholar said. In June, he named Rabbi Sruli Fried, the senior director of the neighboring New Jersey/Pennsylvania region, as an interim appointee to oversee the Mid-Atlantic region.
“Rabbi Fried has a deep understanding of Baltimore and its nearby communities and brings decades of professional experience and devotion to our families,” Scholar said.
For his part, Haber was supportive of the decision to have Fried fill the vacancy.
“Rabbi Fried is a passionate leader who believes in the mission of Chai Lifeline,” Haber said. “He is a devoted advocate who will work hard to support those in need.”