Sunday, September 26, 2010


In response to our Post earlier today, a past lay President of the Orlando federation wrote us. His story of a federation's total lack of support from JFNA is the sad example of futility of the $30.3 million invested annually by the federations in...what, exactly? Here is the Comment we received:

"I am a past president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando, and my family and I have been involved in the Orlando Jewish Community for more than 50 years (my personal involvement goes back to 1990). Central Florida is still a vibrant Jewish community. It has, however, suffered greatly due to the ongoing recession, in large part because Central Florida is ground zero for the economic downturn with a housing market that will take years to get back on its feet.

That being said, the truth is the national parent organization, by whatever name you call it, has done nothing in the entire time I have been involved but let Orlando down. After years of promises to help with counsel, staff, fundraising efforts, organizational strategies, we were left, time and time again, with nothing but hot air and vapid talk. Emerging communities? The only thing that emerged for us was idle chatter from above. There was never real assistance. Never additional staff to help, never anything concrete. So why, after years of empty promises, should this community have turned once again to a parent whose only constant, whose only quality we could count on was abandonment, and whose only historic record was one of failure. If the Orlando Federation falls, it will fall alone. It will fall without ever having received real guidance or support from any national organization.

The lessons learned? Don't count on anyone besides yourself. Help yourself. There is no rescue from above. Sad but real. The Orlando Jewish community plods on, one step at a time, and it does so on its own. "

"Hot air and vapid talk." "Idle chatter." It appears as if the only action JFNA took with the Orlando Federation was to move November's GA to New Orleans. Where was JFNA while a Federation sought its help? Planning a Tribefest, promoting "the Brand?" Where were its professional and lay leaders? Did no one hear the cries for help or understand the implications? Does this iteration of the federation system, with "Jewish Federations" in its name to remind itself even recognize its responsibility to its owners

Paul Jeser, informed by insights drawn from his years as CEO in Orlando and from his many professional roles in Jewish life, offered the observation that pre-merger, UJA and CJF were more or less constant presences in Orlando. We have learned that JFNA hasn't been "there" at all. Does JFNA sense that this isn't its responsibility? If not Orlando...what, where?

I can't wait to hear JFNA's "explanation" for what a past Orlando President has characterized as "abandonment." I have heard from a number of federation leaders from communities across North America over the last five hours all echoing the sense that they, like Orlando, are alone. All I hear now is JFNA's coda.

Shame on us.


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