Then there is/was our (well, your) Gerald Silverman -- oh, he got a fund for professional development at JFNA almost oxymoronic; and appearances at a number of federation Board meetings; and, most recently, a joint appearance with JCPA's CEO, David Bernstein, in a Webinar on, of all things, Jewish Federations Then and Now. All in 30 minutes (it actually lasted 35) -- one FOB suggested: "...more than enough time for him to communicate all that he learned in ten years." I know, many of you agree that maybe 10 minutes would have been sufficient.
To make the Webinar more meaningful, the invitation listed some (all?) of the questions for Jerry:
"How have Jewish Federations evolved over the last ten years? What direction are they going? Where does Jewish advocacy and community relations fit in?" (Yes, I know, "direction" should be plural and "does" should be "do" but this is Jerry after all.)So, I tuned in.
As would have been expected, in the thirty-five minutes allocated to this thing, and, given that the interviewee was the Jerry., there was a wide-ranging use of jargon and cliche, and almost no facts. While David Bernstein introduced the session as an "amazing opportunity" to debrief with Jerry, it proved to be nothing more than another "opportunity" lost.
Examples? We have many. Consider:
- JS spoke of "running the business" and "generating revenue" -- neither of which he did;
- Talked of "our campaigns" raising $910-$920 million -- should have been, should always be "the federations' campaigns" of course;
- When asked what the "mission of JFNA is today," Jerry responded that it is "timeless;"
- Silverman cited the importance of the JFNA Strategic "Process" but failed to mention that (1) the document itself has been suppressed, unless you have a copy, you can't see it; (2) it was drafted by a Consultant; and (3) its "big ideas" have no meat on the bones;
- Jerry embraced the idea of "Kennedyesque" goals to be led by JFNA -- he loved the idea so much, that he repeated "Kennedyesque" ad nauseam. on and on and on (it was at this point that I realized that David Bernstein deserved a special award for maintaining a straight face!!);
- After his restatement for the umpteenth time the three "goals" flowing from the consultant's work, no one could be surprised that JFNA has not a single strategy for implementing any of these goals -- perhaps The Bridgespan Group could be retained to develop strategies. (Oh, they have been -- never mind.)
To his credit, Jerry cited pioneering programs in Chicago and Los Angeles -- as we all know, JFNA itself after the 10 years of Jerry has no programs of its own.
I got exactly what I expected.