Sunday, August 22, 2010


In response to our Post -- IT AIN'T OVER UNTIL THE FAT LADY SINGS...Paul wrote that she sang when the merger occurred. I disagreed -- but Used to be Important had some critical insights with which I do agree. Used to be...wrote:

"No, the problem is that there is no Vision. Just lots of badly facilitated UJC and then JFNA 'strategic planning' junk full of meaningless Vision statements. All done for and by an organization without a mandate to lead and devoid of the kind of true national leadership it would need to survive, let alone flourish. There was a vision in the days when UJA and CJF were strong. It endured and endured only to be broken apart by the "Study" demanded at the time (mid-nineties) by a bunch of tired and bored Large City Execs who thought they needed to "own" the system ... whatever that meant. The old Vision of UJA and CJF of collective responsibility was founded on the ridiculously simple concept of Kol Israel Zeh l'Zeh and that united North American, South African, Australian and European Jewry in a grand and common focus. That focus fell to the "importance of local needs"; to "Israel doesn't need us any more" and to all the other oversimplifications of the Study and its authors.

The great national leaders of UJA and CJF were divided. A couple abandoned the Mission and looked out for number one, desperate to attain high office in whatever new entity would emerge. Instead of broad, global thinking and action, the new 'leaders' engaged consultants; changed a name that had a huge franchise and created no foundational strengths for the emerging UJC. Its stature is diminished; its leaders are weak. The Federations campaigns are suffering in many cases and, it seems, the two greatest purveyors of good for Jews in Israel and overseas are treated as insignificant. It worked. The inmates have taken over the running of the asylum."

I agree with so much of what Used to be wrote. I have a sense of my personal mea culpa. At one and the same time the "inmates" have only "taken over the running" of JFNA because they have been permitted to do so by the neglect, disinterest and abandonment of responsibility and obligation by so many who could have (and still could) make a difference. The curative steps that need to be...must be...taken are self-evident. They actually begin tomorrow.

Tomorrow, you may ask? Yes. On the 23rd-24th, the Chair and CEO have invited a group of federation lay and professional leaders to 25 Broadway -- if you haven't been invited, you're not alone. (The participants are a secret known only to Manning and Silverman. I'm betting it's JFNA's secret Coordinating Council and some additional Federation CEOs...but not its Executive Committee -- very bizarre [but, perhaps, they can't be "trusted."]) The focus of this meeting is to be the development of consensus on matters related to the core allocations to our system's partners. Two months ago JFNA was charged with developing this consensus -- you know, by, like, uh, visiting with federation Chairs and CEOs. But, no, they called a meeting. No doubt there will a lot of talk of and commitment to a "Global Planning Table" that JFNA's leaders' assert, contrary to all evidence, was a consensus-driven outcome of a 2009 then UJC Board Retreat at which 1/3rd of the federations were participants (one from west of Missouri) and at which no vote was taken. This meeting will take place with JAFI and the Joint excluded. Hopefully those leaders in attendance who truly recognize how critical this consensus is to the federations as well as to the present and future of JFNA, will save JFNA from itself.



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