~ You are probably sick of hearing about the depths reached in the promition of TribeFest -- but maybe a promotion of a Fest subsidy by one Large City Federation shows that the system has hit bottom. Writing about Festivus, this Federation describes the event in Las Vegas as the place "where 1,800 Heebsters from Federations around the country are expected to get their Jew on." Can this get any worse, my friends? Every time I think that the depths can get no deeper -- they do.
~ A reader, a terrific federation professional, reminded me, in light of our DERELICTION Posts, that now have the strange circumstance of the JFNA headhunter operation placing many from outside the federation system into Federation CEO positions. Then, this professional pointed out, for a variety of reasons, a number of federations have hired Executive Search firms (at great expense I can tell you from personal experiences) to seek out new CEOs. In one classic case, a Large City first engaged JFNA Mandel to search for its new CEO, after at least one year of futility, JFNA Mandel was discharged, an Executive Search firm hired and for what was no doubt a significant fee, that Executive Search firm placed a sitting federation CEO in the position. Ironic? Nope -- just the "new paradigm." (Postscript: Mandel JFNA has been engaged for the Northern New Jersey CEO Search.)
~ If you want to get a snapshot of waste, hit the http://www.jewishfederations.org/ website and link to the User's Guide To Israel Office of the JFNA. There you will discover how JFNA spends your money as if it were their own. In the "Executive Office" you will find not only the "Director General" but an Assistant Director "Strategic Initiatives," and an Executive Assistant. You will discover that the Israel Office requires a Director of Communications and an Assistant (apparently to prepare the now Media Guide and take pictures of the Director General). Four professionals in Finance and Administration (in addition to UIA's professionals who are responsible for assuring that our allocations to JAFI are properly applied) -- these include an IT Manager and an Office Manager. In the "Program and Planning Area" are a mishmash of federation representatives, an area Partnership 2000 "Director" and the Director of Program and Planning -- 8 more professionals. OK, I count 28 people -- why? What is JFNA doing for the federations in Israel? How big an empire is being constructed there? And...why? I am all for full funding of programs and offices that demonstrate a return on investment. Tell me where I can find that ROI in JFNA-Israel?
~ I admit to being more than a little confused by JFNA -- as usual. After a comprehensive and daunting presentation of SCN (The Security Community Network) to the JFNA Board last Monday, Jerry Silverman seemed to suggest that SCN's federation financial support was waning. Jerry (admittedly it's hard to determine from his presentation), to his credit, said that SCN was critical enough to the Jewish community that JFNA would, if the federations so desired, absorb the SCN cost in its budget in large measure -- at least enough to cover the shortfall. Eloquent testimonials from Chicago, Hartford and other federations attested to the criticality of the need. John Ruskay noted that SCN should not be another of JFNA's multiple "asks" -- although he asserted it far better than my shorthand. Now, we'll see if JFNA will (or can) separate its chaff (#ish, Tribefest anyone?) from the wheat of a SCN.
~ Is JFNA short of leadership...or what? (This is a rhetorical question. The answer is "yes...and we like it that way.") The Board Chair gleefully announced on Monday that Judy and Steve Silverman, after the great job they did in Chairing the New Orleans GA, would serve again as the National Co-Chairs of the 2011 Denver GA. Judy and Steve may have been the best Chairs the GA ever had -- that's not the point. Yes, Kathy Manning and Joe Kanfer chaired successive GA's -- a fact occasioned, at least in part, by the forced resignation of the national Chair of the LA GA. But...to that point in time never had a person (or couple) chaired successive General Assemblies. This honor (which is also a job) should be the opportunity to expand leadership, not further constrict it. Manning and Silverman could have just looked around -- here are a few suggestions -- Arlene Kaufman and Sandy Baklor, Lori and Steve Klinghoffer, LA's Richard Sandler or Stan Gold, Chicago's Midge Perlman or Lynn and Skip Schrayer, so many possibilities from New York UJA, and so many more from around the Continent...women and men of incredible generosity and outstanding leaders...but our leaders don't get it. It's a shame that "leadership" doesn't understand...or, maybe, doesn't care.
~ I am not a big reader of the Comic Sections in our nation's newspapers, but on a rainy Sunday morning in Napa, I was leisurely reading the San Francisco Chronicle where Dilbert appears in the Business Section. It struck a chord, see if you find that chord, as well, as Ruth and Dilbert dialogue:
"Gilbert, your boss asked me to get your input on this."
Dilbert reviews the Document. "We have two options for wasting our time here."
"Option One: I could tell you all of the things you should change, and you could ignore me as usual."
"Option Two: I could lie, and tell you that everything is perfect."
Ruth responds: "I prefer the lie. That way I can pin some blame on you if things go bad."
"Excellent choice. It's faster, and I can later say I was misinterpreted."
"Okay then, I declare that your document is perfect, under a certain set of assumptions that I won't list."
Boss shows: "Did you help Ruth?" Dilbert: "I could say yes. But it's sort of a gray area."