Friday, June 4, 2010


One of the best and brightest federation CEOs wrote me commenting on the Joint and JAFI hiring up in full preparation for financial resource development drives: "nature abhors a vacuum." Well, we sure have one. As further evidence, I submit the following drafted by/for the JCCA, the Jewish Community Centers Association of America :

Looking Forward: Reshaping "Jewish Community"

"Despite the pressure of short-term survival, our decisions must be made for the long-term, in addition to appropriately reacting to crisis. If the economic downturn has taught us anything, it is that the growth that we experienced took place under an unrealistic set of circumstances. We should not expect that things will ever return to the 'way they were.' It is time to create a new communal reality that makes sense in today's context, and looks forward to tomorrow.

It has become increasingly clear that the historic rules of engagement and communal behavior that have governed the way we function no longer serve the interests of the Jewish community. As funding patterns and philanthropic behavior change, some of the 'unwritten' rules must either be rethought or eliminated in order to meet today's reality. We have lived by rules of fundraising 'primacy' that do not mesh with the reduction in central funding and the need for agencies to be aggressive about financial resource development. The proprietary attitude of 'owning the donor' has stifled opportunities for donors to satisfy their interests by becoming engaged with agencies that have had limited access to them. Donors are well able to make their own choices and decisions. Likewise the assumed rules of community planning, based on the notion that certain institutions 'own' certain areas of Jewish life, are no longer functional, and hinder the potential for moving forward. Contemporary consumer decision-making, based on the expectations of full access to a broad variety of services and options require (sic) that we drop behaviors and practices created in a different time if we expect to reach today's Jews.

The economic situation has also forced some long needed discussions about different ways to organize Jewish community. JCC Association should take the lead in shaping the communal conversation regarding the future configuration of the Jewish institutional world. A similar conversation
must, most importantly, take place at the local level. The traditional boundaries between JCC, school, and synagogue are becoming more permeable, along with the way that consumers seek and 'buy' the educational experiences they need and desire. It is time, for example, to consider new models of affiliation and service delivery that will both ease access for individuals and create a more meaningful (and efficient) communal system."

This is chutzpah, of course. The JCCA is a recipient of federation dollars through the Alliance pool...and it wants more, lots more. Thinks it deserves more -- probably for more stuff like this. Let's add it up: JDC demeans by its new strategies the federations which JDC threatens and JFNA, which the Joint ignores. Then there is JCCA which publishes trash like the piece above biting the hand of the very federations which fund their members while seeking more dollars through the federations' national funding pool. And, the JFNA leaders...discussing of course among themselves.

But these are not the only issues involved here. Visit multiple federated communities across the continent -- federations of every City-size. Listen and learn in so many of them how their community centers, constructed with such hope and pride, are on life support, with the federations themselves, not the community centers themselves, looked at as the funders of last resort. And just where is the JCCA in what is a true communal crisis? Why, of course, the JCCA is trying to figure out ways to become the "new model of affiliation" as part of a "more meaningful communal system." Perhaps the community centers need to take a careful look at their national organization -- it seems to have lost its way.

Next, Jerry will be invited to speak at the JCCA Convention (maybe he already did) and...all will be well. Sure.



paul jeser said...

Chutzpah, yes, but not surprising. As the FEDS continue to 'give ground' others will rush to fill the gap.

RWEX said...

Dear Anonymous,

You wrote a blistering Comment about a recent JFNA hire. I agree with many of your conclusions but, as you make allegations some of which suggest violations of the law, I find I can't print the Comment in its current form.

If your allegations are true, it does make one wonder, among other things, what kind of due diligence JFNA undertook.

Anonymous said...

Respectfully, it seems to me your response is almost as bad as printing the allegations as now readers may not only speculate on the crimes but reflect on the wrong hire. Silence would have been preferable. And no need to print this comment. I am just pointing out what I and others might perceive to be an error in editorial judgement.

RWEX said...

Dear Anonymous,

I am pretty much used to being accused of "poor editorial judgment."

joebrown42 said...

Not specifcally relevant, bt still - I just saw this:
Why didn't JFNA come up with this?