Tuesday, August 31, 2010


So I posed the question whether we could stage Operation Exodus today? I concluded for variety of reasons, including the condition of our national organization, that we could not. In a brilliant Comment, one Anonymous commentator violently disagreed:

"That is a ridiculous question. Well, of course we could stage Exodus.

First, we would need to bring the Global Planning Table together. We would have to agree what share of the budget would go to the Ethiopian National Project, Sheatufim and JCPA for advocacy of some form or another.

We would then create a worthless competition pitting JDC against JAFI to see who could undermine the other for their share of the "split". We would criticize both JAFI and JDC for having any planning meetings at all that did not invite the JFNA Board Chair

We would vet each proposal and make sure that the planning table's personal friends each got a share of the pie. Then we would see what Large Federations wanted to unload currently funded programs that they could bury in the new Exodus campaign to get off their funding backs - oh, and by the way, we would have to hire a few employees that the Large Federations wanted to feather bed off their payroll. Or some past failed consultants.

Of course the campaign would be headed by a wonderful volunteer whose community currently only gives 4.7% of their campaign overseas.

Some of the Federations would have wonderfully successful campaigns! But some of them would never actually forward the proceeds and we would have a gap of 35% between what was "raised" and what arrived.

And then would come the cash collections: we would put together a "Collection Table", bang on the table, go home and declare it a victory.

We would schedule an opening Exodus campaign cabinet meeting. The Board Chair would be waiting to see if he/she had to get on the plane to come or wait and see if the meeting would postpone and the trip would be unnecessary.

Steinhardt and the Bronfman’s would decide that they wanted ExodusNext to be a part of Birthright, because Exodus will only be successful if the kids go on a holiday trip to Israel.

Everybody else would either write their check directly to JDC or JAFI or to the new organization that may emerge someday

There is often great truth in satire. Isn't there?

Friends, I have been overwhelmed by the e-mail responses to my earlier Post on the subject. If JFNA's leaders cared about your opinions...we already know how they feel about mine...they might learn of the growing concern men and women...leaders in their federations and significant donors...have with how our national organization offers no comfort that, unlike UJA or CJF, it could lead us during times that call for leadership. We have a reactive JFNA -- except in the proactive marketing tripe like #ish, in the ridiculous transfer of a small group of Yemenite Jews to Monsey, NY and in the great work of its Washington Office and in leading our response to disasters -- to the conversion issue (about which they had been forewarned on these pages and in more credible places months earlier, to the catastrophic decline in allocations to the core budgets of JDC/JAFI (even though they had been urged to take action for months if not years), to the failure to respond to the economic crisis in a manner that might have aided the federations, and on and on.

And, so this crisis will grow so long as JFNA has a lay leadership disconnected from its constituency.



LisaB said...

What a shame you are receiving private e-mails in agreement rather than publicly posted comments. If people don't stand up and use their voices and names, nothing will change.

Anonymous said...

As one of the people who regularly communicates via e-mail with RW and via phone and occasionally posts an anonymous comment - I do so for a few reaons. It is not my intent to engage in dialogue or to debate the issues with other readers, but rather to help RW in the process by offering my view on the issues that RW feels are important to reach the objectives he has been focused upon for two plus years. The second reason is that sometimes my own comments if they became public could compromise my own ability as someone with over 35 years experience and involvement with federations to help bring about change and to develop the kind of federation system many of us want to see. I know (as does RW) that on many occassions my comments and the comments of other e-mail writers have been published in his blog and attributed it to others e.g. anonymous longtime friend, etc, when RW has felt it important or helpful to do so.