Thursday, October 21, 2010


Three weeks before the General Assembly, JFNA trumpeted a "unique" set of moments at this year's GA (no, not the Golf Outing) -- "HISTORIC JEWISH SERVICE DAYS SET FOR 2010 GENERAL ASSEMBLY." Something called Repair the World, "a new national platform organization," will lead the way. I thought to myself on reading the Leadership Briefing: how little our leaders know about our work, the history of our commitments, the help we give. I let it go. Then I received a letter from a federation leader, a passionate thought leader, a concerned Jewish citizen. I decided to completely reprint it here:

"I find this patronizing and obnoxious on so many levels

1) If Historic is defined as "having importance in or influence on history"
- this is far from historic. Its exaggeration as a part of Jewish History on any level either makes a mockery of our rich Jewish history or it displays the utter ignorance of Jewish History by the writer. A great observer of modern communications once said "The greatest export on the internet - greater, even, than information - is hyperbole"

There is a limit to hyperbole - JFNA has yet to find theirs.

2) I think that Service days are wonderful and I am fully supportive of them, BUT, the people who attend GAs - at least the lay people, are the Leading VOLUNTEERS in Jewish Life.; They all donate hundreds and hundreds of work hours every year, the last thing they need is JFNA trying to encourage them to give community service. This is Chutzpa to the nth degree. "

Friends, in my community and I would wager, yours, hundreds and thousands of Jews young and old, join together in Mitzvah programs -- in Chicago we call our terrific work the Tov Project, in your community it is named something else -- we didn't need "a new national platform organization" -- and we don't. What we need is national federation organization of purpose and passion. As they say in New Orleans -- Who Dat?



Anonymous said...

Ah come on Richard, give em a break! Maybe someone is just confusing a previous job with a present one by creating a fun filled three day summer camp for Federation campers complete with a clean up day and star
camper heroes award. JFNA t-shirts anyone? How about a color war with the JAFI shtarkers versus the JDC Shnorrers (or vice versa - no bias intended)?

Anonymous said...

How do I get on the steering committee for next year? I would like to see a "Day of At One Ment." It would feature simultaneous sermons by prominent rabbis instead of forums (including female rabbis to show the support and role of JFNA for the conversion law). There would be at least two rabbis per movement representing at least one rabbi you can't stand. In an effort "At One Ment" JFNA would switch the announced rooms for where the rabbis are speaking thus forcing everyone to sit thru the other rabbi's sermon allowing JFNA to declare an "historic celebration" of At One Ment (since the doors would be locked with JFNA professionals and lay leaders acting as the ushers). No food would be allowed to be eaten within the convention center. The closing plenary would be a mass celebration of Havdalah, the sounding of the shofar, and all the "walls" dividing the Jewish people would come tumbling down. The concluding song - Kumbayah in Hebrew of course. What an historic event that would be.

Anonymous said...

how sad that so few remember the GA's when Havdalah was a magical closing moment of unity --always followed by a top name speaker.