Friday, August 13, 2010


The 2011 Campaign Kick-Off, reported on yesterday, was a bright star in an otherwise dark sky. Woe Is Us.

~ The Young Leadership Cabinet Retreats. Once the place for "emerging leaders," the Retreats are reflective today of the state of a national organization in continued disarray. Where once Yitz Greenberg inspired us, at this year's Retreat it was a former JFNA training professional who is now a "leadership consultant." Where once a succession of UJA National Chairs were energized and inspiring, now the JFNA Board Chair and the JFNA Chair of the Executive apparently didn't bother to interrupt their Summers to attend the Cabinet Retreat. But Jerry Silverman and William Daroff were there and the group heard "Joel Chasnoff's comedy routine" -- twice. ("Chasnoff does for the IDF what O'Brien did for the War in Vietnam.") All so sad.

More? OK. Back in 1995 then UJA assured, and later reaffirmed, its commitment to Kashrut at all UJA events from Missions to Board and Committee meetings, to Missions. I thought JFNA had continued this practice. Well, unless JFNA shipped in kosher box dinners in Arizona, the Cabinet Dinner kicking off the Retreat at Bar North Kierland just outright violated that policy. The restaurant is "casual, hip" and...traif.

Then there was something called TribeFest Casino Night -- the "Tribe" being MOT!! "Not only will you have a great time, we will share with you exactly how you can recreate that great time in your own community." I am embarrassed...ashamed. Here is how JFNA "teaches" fundraising to our system's future leaders?

~ Allocations and JAFI/JDC and the JFNA "Powers that Be." It's hard to believe that it has been over three months -- that's over 90...days -- since JFNA, federation and JAFI/JDC leaders came together to attempt to resolve the lack of advocacy on allocations issues that so threaten our system. Major federations submitted a proposal that would have required JFNA to develop a consensus for binding federations to their overseas obligations. Over these months JFNA was mandated -- this was not optional -- to develop consensus among its federation members in support of increasing JAFI/JDC allocations. If JFNA has done anything over these three months, it has been invisible -- a "stealth consensus building" effort. Even on City-size conference calls with Federation CEOs...nothing. With Federation CEOs and Chairs...nothing. JFNA...nothing, nada, nothing.

Now, word is out that JFNA has convened a meeting on the subject (?) to which JAFI and JDC are not invited. JFNA, as it is so wont to do, summoned JDC/JAFI leaders to a meeting in NYC on August 23. JDC, after these three months of no communication from JFNA, declined to attend. JAFI wouldn't be there either. There will be no such meeting.
Instead, JFNA has now summoned a select group of federation leaders for the 23rd-24th. Have you been invited? Would it not have been far better first to build some trust.

~ The Favored Few. Does anyone believe that if the vaunted JFNA were scouting out sites for the 2011 General Assembly, that Chicago or New York would be considered without Silverman first contacting the CEOs of those communities? Of course not. So, shouldn't the same professional courtesies extend to smaller federations? Apparently not. Worse, JFNA's emissaries contact venues in these communities where federation CEOs have significant influence and could be helpful. This is so shortsighted -- in particular in a Dues environment where JFNA is not doing well.

And, on the subject of the GA, two of three hotels are "sold out" to Registrants; yet JFNA "extends" the $625 "early bird registration date" by one month. What am I missing? Better yet, what are they missing?

~ Tweeting. I have been reminded by responsible friends that the tweeting I may have mocked that associates JFNA with the tweeter does reinforce the "brand." And, that's a good thing. If one "tweeter" has 4000 Twitter-friends, then the brand is out there in a more meaningful way than the preposterous #ish and Heroes at no cost to our system.


Does anyone believe this is how it was supposed to be? That this is what our federations would be paying $30.3 million to prop up?___________________________________________________________________

Let's end on a happier note. Earlier this week the WWW reported that Lebron James (self-styled "The King") recently transplanted to Miami from Cleveland, has engaged an Israeli Rabbi who speaks no English "...and bases his teachings on the Kabbalah...seeking guidance in advance of major merchandising meeting..." The shitach was attributed to Columbus Jewish communal leader Jay Schottenstein. I have to tell you were it not for Schottenstein's involvement, one would have to wonder if the English-speaking James relationship with the Hebrew speaking Rabbi was some sort of play on Jewish stereotypes. The Rabbi -- Yishayahu Yosef Pinto -- 37 years old and the spiritual leader already of three different synagogues, is "...regarded as something of a guru in the New York real estate community." But, watch out Lebron, one website reported that a "Hasidic real estate broker with whom (the Rabbi) had business dealings, and with whom he'd had a falling out, died in an apparent suicide."

Does James now have a voice in the Conversion Bill debate? Does the Rabbi? What about Amer'e Stoudamire, b'ivrit?



paul jeser said...

richard - of everything you have written, this 'update' about the YLC is the most depressing - and saddening.

Back in 'the day', us small/intermediate city Fed Execs looked to the YLCs as a most important part of the system. It was the glue that tied us all together.

The YLCs were the breeding ground for future leadership - especially from the smaller Feds who did not have the same leadership/donor strength the larger Feds had.

That the Feds 'allowed' this to happen, it seems to me, is more proof that the Fed system, as we knew it to be, just is no longer viable.

Reading this post was not a good way to begin Shabbat.

LisaB said...

Oh dear, seems you were subjected to the ubiquitous Rae Roadshow. I've had to sit through it 3 times and am yet to be inspired.

In other news I received a letter from the president of my big federation that as a committee chair it is my responsibility to exclude anybody from being actively involved if their giving history isn't up to par. Not find out why they aren't inspired, not ask for more, not have a real conversation and encourage real investment in the system from someone who actually shows up. Just cut them off.

THAT will really inspire people.