Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Yes, the Blog has been down for four months. Life has been peaceful (for some). So, the logical question, one I have asked myself quite often, is why bring it back? There are multiple answers, all of which flow from my June 30 Post, the one in which I declared "-30-" Therein I indicated that if our federations failed to take ownership of JFNA and if JFNA continued down the path it was clearly and aimlessly heading and if in personam attacks on your Blogger continued, I reserved the right to return. And, because bad times have never seemed so bad, I am back.

I am committed to making the Blog a kinder and gentler place, accused as I have been in the past as engaging in the kind of personal attacks that those I have been writing about do toward me...and they have continued. I have explained that when leaders -- lay and pro -- confuse the organization's purposes with their own, as they continue to, their conclusions will continue to be that any criticism of organizational policies or programs or lack of direction or wrong direction are personal attacks. There are those who believe that the Blog was nothing more than a series of personal attacks on JFNA's leaders. I would ask them, knowing that they won't, to reread the 660 Posts that preceded this one. Just know that I have too much respect for those who assume leadership roles in our communities to do so. At Kathy Manning's specific request (even as she assured me that she never reads the them unless they are sent to her), I have reread those Posts and admit that I have too often failed my own standard. I will try not to do so in the future -- but (and it's a very big BUT) when leaders confuse criticism of programs and lack of a concept of institutional purpose with personal criticism, the problem isn't mine.  I'll just have to live with that reality.

As so many of you have noted, I have been gone from these pages for four months...four months during which, unfortunately, JFNA has continued to engage in the humorous and the destructive while, all around it, federations are in retreat from the values and principles that once bound them together, with JFNA ...oblivious. The silence from the federation owners has been, is and, apparently, will remain...deafening. In the Posts ahead I will be looking back...and peeking into the future with you as what was such a beautiful system continues down the path of self-destruction.

Sure, I continue to be baffled by JFNA's lack of purpose, the annual on-going waste of a large percentage of $30.3 million of our precious resources, but, all the more, I am brought back to this Blog by the federations themselves apparent lack of will and growing lack of purpose. I return after these four months of silence as confused and frustrated as never before.

In the coming days and weeks I will be writing about the folly of the JFNA Global Planning Table -- which is nothing if not a written expression of the Orwellian fantasy world in which JFNA operates -- you know, black is white, dark is light; a meaningless and worse Second Membership Criterion; "deals" on Dues; the manner in which JFNA operates what has become the annual Community Heroes thing; and, of course, Tribefest 2. I will be looking at what some of our federations around the country have been doing, promoting or not doing. And I will be musing about the constant self-promotion, the self-congratulations that JFNA offers itself in such a variety of ways and about all manner of things -- its "brand," its missions but not its Mission, its lay and professional leaders and on and on.

Observing the lack of institutional purpose after 11 years just so saddens me. (You think that anyone at JFNA can articulate its purpose in a single sentence in plain English?) But, worse, over the last four months of my silence, I have watched as even those federations whose leaders truly care about our system, have handed JFNA's leaders a whole bunch of matches and a huge can of lighter fluid. And more and more, they are willing to just stand back and just admire the fire.

Then, last week came what has become and remains the kind of pettiness I had come to experience first-hand but which I had hoped was past. I had been asked to serve on a Search Committee for a successor to Yitzchak Shavit, z'l.  I don't know who picked me but there was some rationale for it -- I had worked with Itzik in his roles for UIA, IEF, UJA and JFNA for over 25 years. When I inquired last week about when the Committee would be meeting, I was told that I had been summarily deleted from the Committee by "someone," unnamed, at JFNA. They know who they are...and so do I. And, so it goes.

Yes, I know. I am engaged in an act of both principle and futility.

So be it.



Anonymous said...

Welcome back. For those of us on the outside, your comments are always an eye opener. Why am I not surprised that JFNA would keep the one person with the most experience and knowledge off of the search committee? consider yourself lucky that you aren't on the committee since undoubtedly your choice would have been rejected by those "yes men and women" who will be on the committee.

paul jeser said...

B'ruchim Haba-im! :-)

Anonymous said...


As a federation CEO, almost totally in the dark as to what is going on at JFNA, I welcome you back. I hope you will shine some light into the dark corners where JFNA's lay and professional leaders choose to spend my donors money.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back!

Anonymous said...

Judging from the last paragraph, I guess JFNA violated the detente!

Laura King said...

I have really missed your blogs during your sabbatical. I'm glad you decided to continue. I am sorry also that you won't be serving on the search committee. I am sure you would have been an asset there and provided valuable insight. I am looking forward to more blogging and your marvelous turn of phrases that sometimes cause me to almost fall out of my chair laughing.