Thursday, March 10, 2011


Have you ever heard of Kolenu: Global Forum? I'm pretty certain you're not alone. It's, no surprise here, another new "partnership" in which JFNA is a..."partner." This particular "Global Forum" was held in London...that's London in the United Kingdom...and Paul Kane, Jerry's Senior Advisor and undisclosed head of Philanthropic Resources was among (or the only) the JFNA representatives. As Paul is steeped with knowledge of how New York-UJA raised money when he was there, I am certain he had much to offer. (I have noticed, haven't you, that for an organization that raises almost no...that's, JFNA sure likes to talk about it -- a lot!!) Anyway, JFNA was listed as a "partner" in this Global Forum with: Keren Ha'Yesod (whose Chair and CEO are listed as speakers [as did Paul] but didn't appear on the program), UIA-Federations Canada, UJIA, the host federation in London (someone should ask their leaders where oh where have your allocated funds gone), and, from the Kolenu letterhead, "West End Travel?"

The participants were an approximate 75 lay leaders under 40 years old (hence the selection of Paul to represent JFNA was even more incredible) from 16...yeah, all of 16...countries around the Jewish world -- that's "lay leaders," my friends. Who and how many represented our federations? Detroit was there. Chicago was represented. Others?

Yet, at this time of the Festivus, it is worth noting that the topics were quite comprehensive and relevant to federations work: Outreach and Engagement, Campaign, Israel and Our Evolving Relationship, Technology and Upcoming Trends. Some of the presenters were terrific role models -- Michael Brooks, The University of Michigan's brilliant, long-time Hillel Director who will warm up the "crowd," Sir Trevor Chinn, England's preeminent Jewish philanthropist, Hal Lewis, nationally acclaimed expert on leadership development (and the CEO of Spertus Institute), Aluf Benn, Haaretz' Diplomatic Editor, the Chair of KH and the KH Chief Professional, the now ubiquitous Paul Kane from JFNA, members of Israel's philanthropic Strauss family and a couple of others.

So I'm thinking -- were it capable of doing so, might it not be great if JFNA convened a federation-driven conference on these identical topics? Not in London but in Regional meetings across the Continent -- with academics, cutting edge Foundation leaders and Federation thought leaders. While JFNA lay and professional leaders appear content to examine only their own ideas (and how great are #ish and TribeFest and the like after all with the claque cheering them on uncritically), federations are engaged in cutting edge community building and rebuilding that represent the new best practices -- and the word needs to spread like wildfire. But JFNA appears indifferent to the ideas of even its owners. It promoted 4 federations' FRD plans at the Board meeting last month -- FRD plans in which this iteration of JFNA professional leadership played no part.

Kolenu means, I think, "our voices" -- just the voices our leaders appear not to want to hear. All they hear are the sounds that emanate from patting themselves on the back. It's all so sad.



Anonymous said...

Perhaps Richard you should dedicate a column to " 5 successful local Federation initiatives JFNA never talks about".

RWEX said...

Thanks...and Richard will,,,