As Henny Youngman (I know, I know, my age...) would have said: Take JCPA...Please.
Yes, JCPA...here is how JCPA itself has set forth its "priorities" in a recent email solicitation:
- JCPA is at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement.
- JCPA mobilizes the Jewish community to affect (sic) change.
- JCPA is a leading voice in ending systemic racism and criminal justice reform.
- JCPA leads national advocacy on ending racism in policing.
Be part of the solution.
The fund raising mailing begins with the admonition (I'm not making this up): It's Time. Stop Doing Nothing.
Then, but a couple of days later, JCPA promoted other of its "organizational goals" in a further solicitation:
JCPA mobilizes the Jewish community to affect change.
JCPA is a leading voice in ending systemic racism and in criminal justice reform.
JCPA leads national advocacy on ending racism in policingI have serious doubts as to whether any of these claims is true. You? Examples, please.
As our communities and donors confront the most catastrophic and devastating financial circumstances in our history, I see an organization that proceeds as if it has an entitlement to your dollars for whatever purposes it may determine.
Now, we know that JCPA is a "partner" in the Israel Action Network (especially if one uses a very, very loose definition of "partner") at one time providing some "expertise" and staffing. This "partnership" was a device, really, to pump some federation cash into the JCPA Budget. No offense, but here is how JCPA defines itself:
"JCPA is the national hub of the community relations network made up of 125 community relations councils and 17 national Jewish agencies. Its mission is to inspire, support, coordinate, convene, build consensus and mobilize the network while serving as the national representative of the network’s public policy platform."And, where is JCPA today? Everywhere and...nowhere, perhaps?
I must admit that back when I Chaired the Chicago JCRC, our mission and work were more narrowly focused (make that "actually focused") -- on matters relevant to our community and the broader community. I know that my mentor on community relations and my then professional partner, the pioneering community relations professional, Peggy Norton, z'l, would have read this JCPA solicitation, rolled her eyes, puffed on her ever-present cigarette, muttered an appropriate expletive and dialed up the JCPA CEO and suggested, as only Peggy could, that "if this is what JCPA is about, resign." Peggy probably would have been more direct.
Over the years JCPA had a succession of great, strong lay Chairs: women and men like my dear friends Shoshana Cardin, z'l, and Maynard Wishner, z'l, and Arden Shenker, Marie Abrams, Michael Newmark, Jackie Levine and Andrea Weinstein, Lynn Liss and so many more distinguished leaders on a through line to Cheryl Fishbein and the current Chair. But it is apparent that those in leadership today are willing to abide the organization they helped to build focused on nothing.
So how does one identify where JCPA lost its focus? And, where should it go from here?