Tuesday, November 8, 2011


As any reader of these Posts is aware, I found the concept, the planning and the execution of Tribefest  to have been without merit, or worse. So it is only appropriate that JFNA would be embarked already on Tribefest 2; this time in advance of the GA so that it can be sufficiently and endlessly publicized, I would guess, in the halls and meeting rooms in Denver.

I assume that those planning Festivus 2 believe that the inaugural Festivus was a huge success. One has to ask "why?" The thing lost over 1/4 million dollars -- $253,000 -- not including staff overhead and travel. In a post Festivus 1 participants survey, I am told (this was never revealed in all of the self-congratulatory culling of that survey) that 75% of the registrants asserted that they would not have attended without a subsidy. (If this is incorrect, all one of the JFNA Festivus enthusiast need do is send us the full survey and responses.) If all those who participated in Tribefest 1 attend Festivus 2, how will our system have benefitted? How did the federation system benefit from Tribefest 1? We know almost how much we lost.

Has anyone asked the professionals driving this effort (beyond the simple "Why???") how this iteration of Festivus 2 will be any different than its predecessor? We know, for example, that lacking an answer to question of how the $253,000 in losses from Tribefest 2011 will be repaid, JFNA's leaders sought a $100,000 grant for Festivus 2 from the JFNA Endowment. The Endowment Committee members, inclined to support the request, had the chutzpah to require, as a condition precedent to formal approval, some...any...description of how that $100,000 might be used. The nerve of that Committee.

Will someone in charge of this thing (assuming someone is in charge) explain the anticipated outcomes, the measures of success of Tribefest 1 and what more might be anticipated from Tribefest 2? I know it is a lot to ask but one can see, plain as day, another $250,000 in losses, fewer participant subsidies...and a helluva great time had by all.

JFNA has just announced Registration NOW OPEN! Next March -- to be preceded by something called the Leadership Development Institute. Think of the synergies!! Festivus Registration Fee -- $450 (reduced to $49 if you register NOW); suites available for $109. WOW!! Outcomes -- no doubt "priceless." And no doubt a loss leader. And no doubt staff will be directed to spend 100's maybe 1000's of hours on this thing, once again. Never look back. We just repeat the mistakes of the past, don't we??

Two words come to mind to describe JFNA and Tribefest 2 -- "hope" and "prayer" as in JFNA has nothing but a hope and a prayer for Festivus 2's success.



joebrown42 said...

One positive comment, though. I think the idea was to create something young people to relate to - a good idea, imho.
That said, it's a far cry from the successful events (Limmud, for instance). Also, it's a far cry from creating relations to JFNA. Oh, well.

Anonymous said...

Ah give JFNA a break. It all follows on the successful Birthright and chabad models: give em something for nothing, get them well fed, boozed and/or hooked up and they might come back for more. Who said Federation had to be grown-ups? At least there was a bill (solicitation) at the back end of a UJA mission of old.

Scott Brockman said...

I have said this before in comments here long ago....what ever happened to revisiting Tel Aviv One? Better to have a subsidized trip to Israel for those who missed the Birthright experience. At least participants will have jumped in on the "deep end" and not in the Jewish experiential "kiddie pool"of a hotel in Vegas. The most powerful experience I had as a YL professional years ago was leading a group to Israel for Tel Aviv One and creating an even more meaningful trip extension all for first timers to Israel. What happened to that very worth while loss lead?

LisaB said...

Scott - I was on an Israel Engagement committee for a large well funded federation. We wanted to offer experience trips to Israel for adults who might have aged out of the Birthright target or not been eligible but weren't involved enough yet for a full on mission.

The plan met much resistance from older Federation hands and it took a while to realize it was because they didn't want to subsidize it. Imagine their surprise when I emphatically insisted that there should be absolutely NO subsidy and that there was nothing wrong with asking fully employed young adults and couples to actually pay their own way. The shocker.

I don't understand this obsession with subsidizing everything although I suppose it is part of the "something for nothing" culture. Federation is supposed to be about committment, giving and responsibility. Acting like a grown up. Subsidies aren't about stepping up to the plate, they're about maintaining a perpetual stance of childhood.

Money shouldn't be flowing to self entitled young adults as a bribe to encourage them to grow up.

OMG! Zionists! said...

I am pretty sure that I am in love with LisaB! Imagine the gumption of one who suggests that gainfully employed adults should not need a handout... I worked TribeFest I and core participants were already active in the Federation System. There were some who just came for the trip but they mostly hung out at the Casino and bars and used the sessions to shmooze up members of the opposite sex, single or otherwise... what happens in Vegas, well, you know. From my perspective it seemed that all TribeFest was, was an excuse for a heavily subsidized party for young community professionals. My conscience will not allow me to attend TribeFest II. I just can't be a part of that collosal waste of money, time and effort.