Sunday, October 25, 2020

EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN...OR MAYBE NOT

Clearly, the very successful elimination of institutional memory at JFNA has accomplished one thing for certain -- to the professionals in charge today and over the prior decade, it is so easy to embrace as new ideas that are, in fact...not. This is especially true if these programs come with cash. As we discuss two of these "newbies" (which appear not to be), would some Foundation or mega-donor come up with some funding for...actual fundraising? Because FRD appears to have been relegated to the trash heap along with the United Jewish Appeal, United Israel Appeal and generations of lay and professional leaders.

Anyway...let us look at something called Amplifier and, if you will, another titled Enter. The former offered with funding from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation; the latter the brainchild of Charles Bronfman and Jeff Solomon.

Amplifier -- great name, BTW. We are told that Amplifier is "a philanthropy idea generator" that will now be located under the JFNA umbrella. I assume that JFNA, which has no apparent interest anymore in raising money (once presumed to be its primary purpose on behalf of the federations), has plenty of time in "reimagining and inspiring thoughtful collaborative giving inspired by Jewish values." So said JFNA's National Campaign Chair. (Maybe Amplifier could come up with a new title for this position inasmuch as it no longer has much if anything to do with "national" or "campaign." As examples of the value-added that Amplifier has already created, the article in eJewishphilanthropy describing the program cites: a giving circle for Women's philanthropy at UJC of Virginia Peninsula and "(S)everal years ago" something with an Asian Women's giving circle and some more giving circles -- one "of people of color" and some other stuff. If you wish, you can read the whole story at https://ejewishphilanthropy.com/the-jewish-federations-of-north-america-warmly-welcome-amplifier/

The great philanthropist, Charles Bronfman, and the brilliant innovator, Jeff Solomon, along with Alon Friedman the (former?) Director of Hillel-Israel as CEO, have created Enter -- not as great a name as Amplifier, BTW -- "...aiming to educate Israelis about the role and significance of diaspora Jewry -- and bring Israeli and and North American Jewry closer together." In this effort, Bronfman/Solomon have recruited a number of major private foundations to each pony up $250,000 per year for three years -- not an insignificant amount of money. Of course, this is not the first effort along the same lines but without the focus and investment that Enter and its Founders/Partners will bring to the effort. 

Of course, chevre, these are worthy efforts and, perhaps, with real commitment and application Amplifier and Enter will succeed. But, really, these are old wine in new bottles. After all...giving circles...really. In my community, and I would wager yours, what would morph into federation began with a group of men (yes, back then...men) of wealth coming together annually to decide the communal needs and, then, commit to meet them -- Giving circles writ large. And Enter echoes the efforts of the Council of Jewish Federations to educate Israelis about the Diaspora through missions and education.

These are efforts that should have begun with and within JFNA. Because of the void at our umbrella agency of and for the federations, great philanthropists have stepped in -- and that's both great and very sad. You can join with me in asking what the hell has JFNA-Israel, with its top-heavy and bloated staff (even after COVID created the need for down-sizing), accomplished . Or, to put the question in another way: would Charles Bronfman, the first JFNA Board Chair, and Jeff Solomon, my professional partner in the merger process that resulted in what is now JFNA, have created Enter within JFNA if there were any there there?

Think about it. 

Rwexler

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

ASLEEP AT THE SWITCH

While we (and our organizations) were (a) asleep; (b) distracted by shiny objects; or (c) distracted by COVID-19, "right wing and rigidly Orthodox political parties" in Israel were preparing a "coup" pursuant to which they would usurp the critical positions at the "...key international Zionist institutions." And...we would have only ourselves to blame. If it happens, it will happen...today.

As Judy Maltz reported for Haaretz, Right-wing, ultra-Orthodox Parties Accused of Plotting "Hostile Takeover" of Key Zionist Institutions. How? By Resolution of the World Zionist Congress at its once every five year meetings starting today on-line. The "deal" appears to have been engineered by the inestimable WZO leader, Avraham Duvdevani, who engineered the WZO's walk from everything but its powers and large amounts of cash when it "separated" from the Jewish Agency almost a decade ago thanks to the inept "negotiations" of Diaspora JAFI leadership. (WZO gave up a title or two, but retained its power to control 70% of the JAFI votes, and was paid millions for doing so. JAFI leaders' version of the "Art of the Deal.")

If this "hostile takeover" proceeds, the American religious movements would face cutting a deal for representation and positions at the Agency, for example, with ultra-Orthodox religious leaders who reject the Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Modern Orthodox Movements both out of hand and in the most insulting ways. Another "winner," if that's what it is, would be the Likud Party. Bougie Herzog might be out as JAFI's Israeli leader. And, these are but two examples. 

For an important analysis of just where this balagan is: https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/hadassah-president-denounces-wzo-coalition-agreement-calls-for-changes-646297?utm_source=ActiveCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Israel%2C+UAE%2C+US+launch+joint+fund+in+Jerusalem+during+first+state+visit&utm_campaign=Oct+20+day 

JFNA, later this week, will reveal the Jewish Federations' allocations to the core budgets of JAFI, JDC and ORT -- allocations which will, no doubt, be at levels so low as to belie the term "partner" so often thrown out these days by the umbrella organization in lieu of cash. If the takeover of JAFI contemplated by this "deal" goes forward, one can foresee the ultimate abandonment of the Jewish Agency by its North American supporters in short order.

One must assume that Jewish Agency Jerusalem leaders were aware of these developments but chose to remain "behind the scenes." Given the consuming ignorance of critical matters such as these at JFNA-Israel, asleep at the switch, one can also assume that no one at 25 Broadway was aware of this coup -- and, if they were, then more shame on them. We have not heard leadership's voices on a matter of this importance to, if not to others, the religious movements to which most of us belong.

This is serious business taking place in the shadows.

Rwexler

Thursday, October 15, 2020

PURPOSE

Commenting on the United Kingdom's recent response to Brexit, one Brit opined that there is "a conspicuous infirmity of purpose." Very British, yes, and equally applicable to far too many of our Continental and national institutions in North America. Institutions that wander aimlessly, without apparent purpose, are doomed at best to mediocrity and at worst to a well-earned collapse.

I find it impossible to believe that any Jewish orghanization believes that "business as usual" works when donors and donations have cratered in the face of the COVID plague. In just the last few days I've heard of multiple federations with 2020 operating deficits in excess of $10 million dollars. The Jewish Agency and the JDC will see federation allocations to their core activities at dollar levels that will not permit them to do the work that we ask of them. National and Local agencies around the Continent are operating on fumes. If you do not believe it...ask.

And yet, and yet...Much like the Trump Administration and COVID, months into this catastrophe, there is no plan. Do our organizational leaders somehow believe that God will provide? That the clouds will lift and all will be well? Look around...look around. In Community A, vital services to the elderly have been cut to the bone, programs for the most frail among us completely eliminated; the community being told "we can't afford it." In Community after Community, lay-offs are diminishing the ability of the "system" to serve. Jewish Community Centers are closing temporarily and with those closures, everything from pre-schools to social programs for Holocaust Survivors...on hiatus at best. In too many federations there will be less allocated overseas than Dues paid to JFNA; and, in many other communities, JFNA Dues will be unpaid or paid only in part. And, the list goes on and on.

Back in my youth -- in other words a long, long time ago -- our system confronted what we called back then "the new Jewish poor." Today is so much worse and, only now are our organizations taking baby steps toward confronting what will soon be a tsunami of poverty impacting the most vulnerable. And we are not prepared.

Of course I am well aware that JFNA is no longer in the fund raising/donor raising business. Even the offer of FRD consultation with communities, JFNA's last fund raising initiative has become just a shadow of its former self, if it exists at all. Here's what the national system (viz, UJA) used to do -- we focused our own initiatives and the communities' on focused fund raising, on getting into the trenches with our own and federation FRD leadership getting back to the basics in an intense and very personal way. And the federations were successful. But, "back to basics" -- to the blocking and tackling that built the incredible safety net for those of our People most in need is, apparently, so last Century. 

Instead of the basics, we read of the latest bright, shiny object -- in an "Announcement," ejewishphilanthropy highlighted The Jewish Federations of North America Warmly Welcome Amplifier. Sure they do. https://ejewishphilanthropy.com/the-jewish-federations-of-north-america-warmly-welcome-amplifier/?utm_source=Oct+14%2C+2020&utm_campaign=Wed+Oct+14&utm_medium=email

Amplifier we learned is a "philanthropic idea generator...incubated at the Natan Fund" and supported at JFNA with a grant from the wonderful Schusterman Foundation. The National Campaign Chair raved about it "reimagining and inspiring thoughtful collaborative giving inspired by Jewish values,." Uh huh. The examples cited in the ejp include "giving circles," a young leadership exercise in "Flash Philanthropy" and, more giving circles.

Don't get me wrong; I am all in favor of new models and experiments in building Jewish philanthropy. But...and this is a big but...if these new forms are not built upon the bedrock foundation of focused FRD, of in the trenches FRD, of incredibly hard work at the local and Continental levels, the financial collapse we are seeing all around us will accelerate and the very communities engaged in distractions from FRD fundamentals will wither and die.

Focus...Focus...Focus.

Rwexler

Friday, October 2, 2020

PRIORITIES

 A few nights ago I attended the Annual Meeting of a local care for the aging organization. It was not unlike countless annual meetings of local Jewish agencies around the Continent -- putting the best case forward that "all is well" when, in fact, nothing really is. In too many places at this worst of times we find our agencies running on fumes as never before -- that "best case" is too often nothing more than "putting lipstick on a pig."

Friends, to paraphrase a great American leader: 

"The moral test for our communities is how we treat those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the disabled, wherever they may live."

In one sentence, those are our priorities -- or they damn well should/must be. But, what if the resources, during this time of COVID-19, just aren't there? What is a community to do, individually and collectively? For those agencies and federations with endowments, this is the "rainy day" for which those assets have been built and held -- use them, apply them. 

It's great that the leaders of some mega-foundations working together allocated $91 million, plus or minus, to address the greatest of needs -- but, as we have explored on these pages, that is $91 million of $21.7 billion of communal assets under management -- .004%. Yes, it can be argued that I am comparing apples and oranges inasmuch as the communal assets are mainly in Donor Advised Funds and Supporting Foundations, and, almost always the communities have been singularly focused on amassing assets rather than in their distribution. Now...now...is it possible to "retrain" the fund raisers to become advocates for distributing them to meet the communities' highest priorities? Because, my friends, everywhere...everywhere...the rain is falling, and those of our People most in need, are suffering.

At that care of the aging agency annual meeting I observed, I listened to the federation CEO express passionately the communal dedication to the agency even as that same federation has cut its allocation to the agency because its annual campaign cannot meet the needs it sees everywhere. I was reminded of the conversation I had with the then CEO of our largest federation way back when we found ourselves in a deep, deep recession: "Richard," he told me, "we are having a horrible time keeping our Board members when all we can ask them for is to cut, cut, cut allocations while we ask them for greater contributions." 

And, here we are again. Only...worse. The social safety net we have created with such pride, is on the verge of collapse.

It's time, friends, for JFNA to show real leadership --as it did in raising and finding significant dollars for Holocaust Survivors. Convene a blue ribbon committee, and create a national loan program, as was done during the Exodus, whereby the mega-foundations and the largest federations would be asked to allocate tens of millions to fund priority prograns in those communities in greatest need, with established criteria for (a) those priority programs; and (b) repayment. 

That may not be the only alternative; I would welcome yours. 

What I know is that treating today with a "business as usual" approach will not work.

It is so hard to utter Mo'Adim L'Simcha this Sukkot this year unless we recommit ourselves to our priorities and ignore the shiny objects which are our distraction.


Rwexler

Friday, September 25, 2020

"...EITHER GET BEHIND THE CHAIRPERSON OR GET OFF THE BOARD"

In a recent article in The Forward -- Infighting, turnover buffet the Joint Distribution Committee...-- on the continuing, perhaps growing, balagan at the top levels of the Joint we wrote about in our Post Whither JDC?, a minority of Board members appear to be continuing a battle they already lost when Mark Sisisky was elected the organization's new President. I'll leave this imbroglio to others suggesting only that all Board members and the new President engage in the introspection demanded of us at Yom Kippur.

Instead, I want to reflect on the demand by one Joint Board Member as demanded, according to a transcript of a contentious Board meeting: "Mark is the president, you either get behind him, or you get off the board." I have heard the same demand made of me back when I served of the JFNA Executive, and my objections to a given action were made at a meeting in private. These are not a demand for achdut; these are nothing less than a demand that a non-profit Board member: never dissent. This is not prescriptive for democracy; it is the precursor to autocracy.

Organizations have choices of what they want to be -- but one of those choices should never be to demand total obeisance to those in power. What should be...always...is total obeisance to the organization, its values, its purposes. And that obeisance demands expression, even dissent, when the emperor has no clothes. 

Friends, achdut is not a matter that can be demanded; it can only be created through open debate. It can't be imposed. And, when and where attempts are made to impose unity; those fail. They failed at JFNA, they failed at the Conference of Presidents and they will fail at JDC. 

Any Board Chair/President who demands that the organization's Board act in lockstep with him/her on all matters, in doing so has planted the seeds of organizational collapse. If good faith "dissenters" are forced into some form of ostracism; soon Boards become dysfunctional and institutions die. Non-profit leadership demands a certain amount of flexibility; an understanding that "I am not always right" -- a willingness to seriously consider dissenting views. 

So, to that JDC Board member, whose demand frames the title of this Post, I'd suggest a possible corollary: If you cannot tolerate good faith dissent, you should resign.

Rwexler



Monday, September 21, 2020

WHERE DOES ONE PLACE THEIR TRUST?

When Eric Fingerhut began his service as JFNA's new CEO and President, he was joining an organization of strangers to him. Certainly, for better or worse, he received guidance from the lay leaders who played the most significant role in his hiring. And, no doubt, he brought some mid-level professionals with him from Hillel as JFNA's budget reflected a small FTE increase in the Office of the President. And, naturally, Fingerhut spent his first months getting the JFNA "lay of the land" from its most senior professionals. 

And, Eric not being a rookie in Jewish organizational life, a strong and respectedf professional of reputed good judgment, of whom one would have expected that after the "break in period," we would have seen significant changes at the very top of the JFNA organization chart.

But...no. In the face of the pandemic, JFNA announced that it had down-sized by 37 persons, most of them mid-level professionals -- you know, as in almost every non-profit, those who are doing the work in the trenches. And the long-serving SVP Marketing and Communications left as well (and, relatively promptly, replaced). Pre-pandemic, Fingerhut announced that, in addition to his role as CEO/President he would serve as the head of FRD, after that position was vacated -- and, inasmuch as JFNA no longer appears to engage in FRD, once its primary fundtion and the one most demanded by the communities, this should not unduly burden him.

And, what is JFNA left with -- at the least, its two most senior professionals: its Executive Vice-President and its SVP Global Operations and Director General JFNA Israel. Now, to be honest I don't know much about what either of these prfessional leaders do but I'm pretty sure that whatever they may do includes: protecting and supporting each other; identifying other JFNA professionals who have been or will be sacrificed to the economic fall-out of the pandemic but not them; and, of course, kissing up to the CEO (a pattern they established early on with Eric's predecessor for whom the delivery of a constant supply of Diet Cokes was a high point of service) and to every lay leader whom they associate with JFNA power. 

And, whatever their roles really are these two drink very, very well from the Jewish money spigot. Yes $409,000 to the EVP; $347,000 to the SVP Global Ops. If the CEO was trying to identify additional  savings, he need have looked no further. But he did not. WHY NOT? I have no doubt that over the years, these two senior professionals have looked to a small groiup of lay leaders to succor their support. And, if not otherwise successful, this twosome proved the benefits of that support. And those lay leaders, recirculated through the JFNA leadership ranks as if they had demonstrated success in their prior roles, became reliant on these pros for information, and for mutual support -- effectively rewarding the pros' loyalty to them confusing that personal loyalty with loyalty to the organization.

More's the pity, friends.

G'mar tov.

Rwexler

Friday, September 18, 2020

A HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR

 To all of you and your loved ones, a shana tova u'metukah. 


Rwexler

WAS THIS A JOKE?

 Speaking of a lack of focus...

While the media were focused on whether PM Netanyahu had “condoned” a UAE deal for F-35s as the “price” for recognition of Israel and a “peace deal,” the Jewish Agency and its “partners” at Keren Ha’Yesod announced a major venture with the 1000 person Jewish community of the Emirates...yes, you read that correctly — 1,000 Emirati Jews will have the benefit of a “partnership” with JAFI/KH. https://www.jns.org/jewish-agency-and-keren-hayesod-to-begin-activities-education-in-uae/

And if you think that this is nothing more than a JA publicity stunt — shame on you. After all, the Jewish Agency is in the midst of a financial crisis so deep that its emergency funding of communities suffering the financial pain of the COVID-19 pandemic had to be supported with a jewelry store-sponsored telethon;  and its communal support from the federations and KH are in an historic collapse. (Yes, that’s the same KH which has retained its 20% ownership of JAFI without any obligation to financial support for the Agency’s core budget which has now “adopted” the Jews of the UAE.)

And, not to be outdone, and never wanting to miss another shiny object, it was announced that JFNA would be joining JA and KH in this effort, whatever it may be, with the Jewish leaders of that 1,000 person community of the Emirates. G-d knows that JFNA’s bloated staff in Jerusalem has the capacity to take this — whatever it may be — on.

I have a suggestion for the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Council of the UAE, Yehuda Sarna: thank JA, KH and JFNA profusely and then seek out Yael Eckstein, the leader of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. The IFCJ’s support comes with financial commitments and expertise. Something new and different for the New Year.

Then, apparently President Trump stuck a deal for "peace" (yet to be defined) between Israel and Bahrain; the deal celebrated on the White House lawn with the Emirates "deal" (yet to be defined, as well). Bahrain's Jewish community has 30 members. 

In celebration of the deals, JFNA CEO Eric Fingerhut reported that he flew directly from the White House ceremony to the Emirates' capitol to celebrate Rosh Ha'Shana with the Jewish community there. (Not sure whether the 1,000 Jews of the UAE have just one synagogue but, as the joke tells us, probably more.) Hope that Eric doesn't have to quarantine for weeks there; he probably has work to do at 25 Broadway or nearby.

Rwexler



Monday, September 14, 2020

MORE STUFF

 1. The JFNA Version of FRD. You may recall that after the departure of the JFNA FRD SVP, Eric Fingerhut announced that he would serve, in additioin to his other CEO responsibilities, as some kind of interim. professional leader of JFNA's financial resource development effort. Then, presumably in consultation with the JFNA National Campaign Chair, JFNA down-sized its FRD Community Consultation effort and, lately, best I can tell (and someone correct me if I'm wrong), JFNA has gone out of the FRD business -- at the worst possible time. (I think the National Campaign Chair still travels to communities to speak and inspire, but FRD...no.) 

But it was still surprising to read the "excited" announcement that thanks to the generosity of "seven national foundations," which granted "an $18 millon match to the Federation system, which can be matched on a 1:2 basis, creating a $54 million increase for our frontline servoce agencies and programs serving primarily Jewish community members." (No, I don't know what that means either.) This will forever be known as the Human Services Relief Matching Fund.

So, the matching funds have already been commited by the foundations; there is no indication in Chair Wilf's and CEO Fingerhut's announcement that JFNA will be doing any more fundraising -- having done none to this point anyway. Therefor it did come as a surprise that the Matching Fund will be chaired by the National Campaign Chair. 

I still remember the halcyon days of yore when the National Campaign Chair as his/her first responsibility was to actually raise money -- I know that was "so Oughts." I bet Mark Wilf remembers those days as well. They are no longer.

2. Maybe There Should Be a Training Program. Many, probably all of us, have Chaired meetings over our leadership years. Hopefully, we all learned from the best of leaders and passed what we learned on to those who followed us -- always either informally or by example. In all of my leadership roles, I always treqasured the opportunity to share.

Recently, I was to participate in a Zoom meeting of an organization I once Chaired.

Then I received the Agenda. It read like this:

  • Call to Order, Welcome -- Board Chair
  • Approval/Minutes -- Board Chair
  • Dvar Torah -- Someone other than the Board Chair
  • Direction of the Organization -- Board Chair
  • CEO's Message -- the CEO
  • Opportunities for Organizational Leadership -- Board Chair
  • Telling the Organization's Story -- Someone other than the Board Chair
  • Training Sessions -- Board Chair
  • Next Steps -- Board Chair
As Mel Brooks might have said: "It's good to be the Board Chair!!" 

This organization's Chair is a good person, from a great community, and I have probably been unfair. But...maybe not.

I think that along the way some organization should convene a training session for lay leaders that would include a component on Best Practices for Running a Meeting -- How to Share. Probably won't happen and, ifr it did, no one would attend because we all know how to run a great meeting...

Don't we?

Rwexler

Thursday, September 10, 2020

OUT OF STEP??

 JFNA distributed an important albeit opaque notice to its members and constituencies over the signatures of Chair Mark Wilf and the JFNA Domestic Affairs Committee Chair:

"This morning The New York Times published an ad (attached) with a letter signed by 600 Jewish organizations -- including six Federations – in support of Black Lives Matter. The ad was timed to coincide with the March on Washington which will take place both virtually and in person over the next two days.  We wanted to provide you some background information in the event you are asked for comment by stakeholders or the media. 

The sign-on letter was circulated two months ago.  Though it was clearly an open letter, there was no announced intention at the time to purchase ads in major publications.  JCPA sent the letter out to JCRCs encouraging them to sign.  We believed – and still do – that our work on these issues is better focused around the substantive, targeted efforts on which we have embarked.  That approach was set forth in this op-ed “On Racial Justice, We can All Do Better”.   

  

This year’s March on Washington is a combination of a virtual event created by the NAACP in collaboration with National Action Network, Urban League, and others set to unveil a “a bold National Black agenda” and an in person march led by the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network. We are not participating in this march, but are honoring the legacy of Dr. King in other ways, including through our policy advocacy.

 

We know that each Federation has taken important steps to fight racial discrimination and support racial justice in your communities.  At JFNA, we have devoted more resources to helping all our Federations respond to the important issues raised in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, to guaranteeing that all communities benefit from the important public programs and funding sources we support, and to working diligently to ensure that our communal institutions reflect our own Jewish diversity, including Jews of Color.  

 

Today is the 57th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, where Rev. Martin L. King gave his “I Have a Dream speech” to a crowd of more than 250,000 people.  As we enter this Shabbat, in this powerful month of Elul, we prepare our souls and spirits for the High Holiday season.  Let us all pray that we may be a part of the healing process for those who still lack full access to the opportunities and protections that society has to offer."

This admonition, if that is what the letter was meant to be, requires a real ability top read between the lines -- something I and you frequently have to do when it comes to Jewish inter-agency matters. So, that's what I am engaged in here -- I assume someone(s) will corrrect me if I am wrong. And this Post is not about the substance of JCPA's decision to join in/on the Virtual March on Washington as others have already done so -- e.g., Tablet's Leil Leibovitz in his vitriolic column: The Mind-Bendingly Insane, Completely Craven, Uttely Unconscionable Redemptiomn of Al Sharpton. https:www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/al-sharpton-jonathan-greenblatt-adl)

Then, on 1 September, the ADL, one of the other organizational supporters of the March, as The Jewish Weereported:

"'We’re witnessing an increasing politicization of this violence,' Alex Friedfeld, an investigative researcher at the ADL's Center on Extremism, told JTA. 'Rather than standing together as protesters and saying we will not condone the use of violence, people are blaming the other side for what happened. Rather than condemning the cycle, they’re perpetuating it. When you view everything though the lens of almost-life-or-death struggles, committing an act of violence no longer seems as unreasonable.JCPA'S failure to coordinate with the federations' umbrella body on policy and support at this important moment isn't surprising; the public affairs body has, as has been pointed out on these pages before, operated on an agenda of its own apparently without regard to those of the communities which provide the bulk of its funding. That has to stop; or the funding should stop.'" 

Confused? I am. 

If JCPA's lay and professional leaders believe that they are an organization that can exist independent of its funders, then b'hatzlacha and good-by. 

It is past time for JFNA, as the federations' representative, if not their leader, to undertake an independent review of JFNA's work, focus and purposes. It appears clear that. such a review cannot be entrusted to JCPA itself. Both the federations and JCPA should want alignment on the broad social issues and policies that confront the Jewish community; and there must be a way to achieve the alignment so that our system speaks with one voice. 

That alignment will not be achieved unless JFNA, as the representative of the primary funders of the JCPA  (as locally, in almost all instances, federations are the primary funders of local CRCs) is willing to assert itself -- something the organization has failed to do over its two decades. A letter is a start; but only a start. Now...action is needed.

Action would be a fine way to start the New Year.

Rwexler