Thursday, January 27, 2011


~ I recently participated in a conference call where the Q & A periods were dominated by a few folks. As I listened I wondered about those who use these moments as opportunities to demonstrate, they believe, how much smarter they are than everyone on the call. These are typically the same people, time and again. Sad. Perhaps, they should write Blogs.

~ The many blanks in the Tribefest schedule are filling in fast. Go to the link on the JFNA website and learn:

-- That the expected numbers are now down to "more than 1,000" from 1800

-- That this event has been reconceived as Jewlapalooza (I am claiming copyrght protection so that JFNA can't use this term next year) - with a "Main Stage" no less where acts of unknown popularity will perform interspersed with "messages" (the use of the word "Plenary" is so off-putting, you know?)

-- Now you can get a discounted registration and very low suite rates -- not low enough but I am an elderly person, what do I know

-- Strange but the "sponsors" are all beneficiaries of our system -- this may make sense in the case of MASA or Birthright as a recruiting tool but???

But, JFNA recently (and for the first time) distributed a rationale (clearly drafted after the fact) that explained in detail the goals of the Fest and how the Fest fits with an overall "strategy" for engaging "young adults." It's grandiose and self-aggrandizing but it is also thoughtful and planful. At one and the same time, if one believes the substance of JFNA's "plan," then Fest becomes a bait and switch -- we'll draw them in with promises of fun and Vegas and rock and roll and then we'll talk Jewish and expose the attendees to our system. We'll get them in the store with talk of Dockers and then we'll sell 'em Armani. Or was there sufficient criticism of Fest as originally conceived and promoted from within the system so as to force JFNA to wholly change its approach to one smacking of actual substance? Is the change in time? Can it work?

And, then there is Orange County, California where JewGlue and Birthright Israel Next are throwing Happy Hour @ The Auld Dubliner (Yiddish??) where word on the Tribefest will be spread among the attendees.

~ Now the Board Chair and CEO, it seems, take turns circulating under one's signature or the other something called the JFNA Daily Media Report. It's a fun read -- and has nothing of value, so far at least, relating the work of the JFNA with that of the federations. Wait...I am not being fair. There are a number of references to articles of interest to the federations but no analysis...none...of how these stories or reports relate to JFNA's work. Just an example: On the conversion issue, "Further fallout hits the religious community in Israel following a rabbinical decision to support conversions by the IDF" linking to an article and a JFNA backgrounder on the conversion controversy...but without any analysis of the "fallout," what this means with regard to the issue in Israel or in North America. I am certain JFNA will get to it...then again, maybe not. Or, here's another one: Joe Lieberman will not seek another term!!! Or, Sarah Palin referenced a "blood libel."

~ You know the loose use of the phrase "partner" by JFNA. Looks like we have another one. Among other programs for which JFNA sought funding from its endowment (most of the funds creating it were intended for the works of JAFI and the Joint, having been created by UJA donors) for a new "partnership" with the Jewish Funders Network. JFNA proponents were questioned as to how the federations would benefit from this funding of a JFN Research Project? No answer was forthcoming. The funding was approved.


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