Friday, July 16, 2010


There is always something:

~ I will soon have a new book on the market -- tentatively titled Dumb Jews!...Smart Jews!...And How to Tell the Difference. I believe some of you will enjoy it; others...not so much.

~ You remember the Helen Thomas firestorm sort of extinguished by her resignation? In one of its more bizarre (and that's hard) Leadership Briefings, this one on the subject of this anti-semite's departure from the scene, Jerry Silverman and Steve Gutow (for JCPA) were quoted in pertinent part as follows: "We applaud...Helen Thomas for coming to the decision today that it was time for her to step away." I'm sorry, why would "we applaud...Helen Thomas" for anything? Spare us.

~ Some good from the Conversion Bill mess -- JFNA has now sent another letter (their letters are to the PM as this Blog is to JFNA) -- this time from the entire JFNA "Coordinating Council" with this preamble: "Indeed it is highly unusual for the entire Coordinating Council of The Jewish Federations of North America to jointly sign a letter, but we feel that this action reflects the depth of feeling and the gravity of the situation..." Then there is the list of the members of the "Coordinating Council" -- very impressive. A letter?! Again? Why not immediately mobilize this impressive group to join Jerry in Jerusalem and "...reflect the depth of feeling and the gravity of the situation..." face to face? If you can get an appointment or two.

~ Should anything or everything be read into the arrogation or reallocation of many of the programs vis-a-vis Israel and Overseas at JFNA from the Director of Israel-Overseas to the professional leader of JFNA Washington? I would think the answer would be "yes," but with JFNA one never knows does one?

~ A JFNA "classic." Just when I think that JFNA can't outdo itself, it does. Last month, our national organization announced that "...[F]or the first time ever, The Mandel Center of The Jewish Federations of North America's I-LEAD professional development institute will feature courses from The Disney Institute, focused on leadership and service skills..." PERFECT. JFNA and Disney -- inasmuch both have a Fantasyland in their "tool kit" and JFNA a kind of Mickey Mouse lay leadership (although not as benign), this is a marriage made in heaven. By all means "Register for I-LEAD now."

~ One of the FOB responded to the "THEY'RE NOT JFNA" Post by noting that who and what is JFNA is defined by the By-Laws (which it constantly appears eludes JFNA's own leaders) and that inasmuch as JFNA is the federations (not individuals, they are not JFNA either. He concluded: " How disappointing that the (JFNA) CEO doesn't understand this when he comes out of such a strong business background." Amen.

~ As bad as things may appear at JFNA, things must really be horrible over at the New Israel Fund. In a "Dear Friend" fund raising letter last month, the NIF claimed in a remarkable demonstration of hyperbole gone wild that among its many, many achievements was its ability to "...mobilize, fund and support the Israeli activists and organizations who have secured Israel's most important victories for equality and justice," including -- "When stranded immigrants and Arab citizens of Israel's North received critical relief during the Second Lebanon War, and support to rebuild in its aftermath..." and "When challenges to the legitimacy of Reform and Conservative conversions abroad were defeated..." and "When 2,000 Ethiopian Jews left behind during Operation Solomon were reunited with their families in Israel..."

Well, you get the picture. JAFI, JDC, ORT can now comfortable go out of business -- the NIF is doing their work...or, at the least, taking credit for it.

~ It was so very sad to read that only 38 communities were represented on the annual Campaign Chairs and Directors Mission this month. I remember when we at UJA started this incredible kick-off to the Annual Campaign; the enthusiastic participation of countless federation leaders each year; the joy we had of experiencing common cause and passion; the annual participation by so many members of the Campaign Executive Committee (now the Campaign Cabinet [if there is one today]) and the Campaign professionals. Now, participation has been reduced to 50% of the number of federation Campaign leaders who once participated JFNA's Development staff's recruiting efforts notwithstanding. Just another example of how removed the federations are from JFNA, the poor job of recruiting and the recognition that, when it comes to Campaign, JFNA has so little to offer.

At one and the same time the non-participating federations have missed a chance to jump start their 2011 Campaigns. With a terrific lay Mission Chair, and terrific repported fund raising results, I know what the non-participants have missed. This is always a great and meaningful Mission -- this time coupled with the unanticipated conversion law crisis. Only 38 Federations -- a real tragedy.

~ Then there's Hannah Rosenthal. If one is looking for the most inane appointment to a public position by the Obama Administration, you can stop right here. You remember, Rosenthal. the President's Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, started her diplomatic career with utterances on Israeli policy from which the State Department had to publicly distance itself. Now, as Edward Rothstein pointed out in The New York Times (July 6,2010), she was either confused or uninformed or pandering (or, in this Blogger's opinion, all of the above) when, while speaking in Kazakhstan (Kazakhstan!!) she was "...asserting the similarity of anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia." Embarrassing? No, worse.


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