I often exchange substantive correspondence with a terrific federation CEO for whom I have the greatest respect. Most recently, just before Pesach, we engaged in an internal "debate" over the "value" of the GPT, his view, or the lack thereof, mine. Our discussion won't be repeated here (except in part below), but trust me when I write that it was executed with mutual respect -- something that is unknown, unfortunately, to JFNA's lay leaders these past six years.
As we closed our discussion, here is what this leader wrote: "Richard -- one final note. This exchange we've had should be occurring at the highest levels of JFNA, with multiple federations across the country and with our next gen leaders -- the national conversation that Steve Windmueller and others have suggested. If it were, a lot of these issues would have been resolved and we'd be talking about less mundane matters, like whether you like your matzo balls firm or fluffy..." I responded with my 100% agreement (and, N.B., "that I like mine firm with a bit of fluffy").
But, our leaders deride debate; they abhor debate; debate conflicts too often with their narrative, their opinion and their "facts." To me, debate is a building block to consensus; to JFNA's leaders, consensus is what they say it is on any given day. These "leaders" fail to comprehend that their dictatorial methodology -- one that shuts out all questions and all debate until now -- has placed the institution that we created and that we, the federations, own, at the very precipice of a disaster from which it is likely it will not recover.