Yes, I was totally wrong. The current JFNA leaders have proved that you can fool all of the people all of the time. In fact, you can even fool those one thought would be the ones who would first argue that the Emperor/Empress wears no clothes. What am I writing about? Read on...
JFNA Board members just received the By-Law Amendments that will be considered at the February Retreat. In the main, these have nothing to do with the health or success of JFNA or making JFNA more critical to the best of our system, to those who contribute the most but, as always these days, about the accretion of power to the Chair.
1. The Delegate Assembly was designed to create a check and balance on the JFNA Board. Thus, voting at the Board was one Board member one vote; at the Delegate Assembly, votes were distributed in a weighted fashion, thereby assuring that those who contribute the most to JFNA had the greatest number of votes on Budget and more. Now, no more Delegate Assembly; to these "leaders" it's but a vestige of the past. No check, no balance any more. And to justify themselves, they just rewrite history.
In the JFNA "explanatory" Memorandum on the By-Law changes, leadership wants you to believe that the Delegate Assembly was nothing more than a relic from the CJF era...that would be wrong...so wrong. The Assembly was created at the time of the merger; what was incorporated from CJF was only...only...the formula used for weighted voting, a complex combination of campaign and Jewish population, (And, because JFNA was apparently too "busy" rewriting history, the formula was unchanged from 1999 even though governance required annual modification.)
The Assembly was also to be a place for representation in JFNA's work by representatives of our religious streams, our partners, academics, JAFI, JDC and others. This was discussed and debated at length -- the religious stream leaders considering this minimal representation insulting and worse. (I know because I spent hours in these discussions.) Now, as some argued at the time of the merger, JFNA's leaders have assured that there is no place for them at JFNA. Was this history ever discussed by JFNA leaders with anyone? (That's a rhetorical question.)
Yes, it's pitiful but, after all, they are JFNA.
2. The Merger Agreement determined that there was to be a Board Chair and a Chair of the Executive. It seemed like a good idea at the time -- a Chair of the Board who would be a mega-donor (a Bronfman or, at the time, a Bobby Goldberg) offering not only the example of his/her generosity but new ideas and program proposals, and a Chair of the Executive who would be someone knowledgeable of our system (a Tauber, a Sonny Plant, z'l) who would lead an "operating Executive" dealing with JFNA operational matters. (had Manning understood her role as Chair of the Executive one has to wonder whether the morally bankrupt serial termination of women during her three years would have been tolerated.) Over time, the original concept was ignored and, in the current iteration of roles, with a self-described "full-time volunteer" as Board Chair, zealous to arrogate all matters JFNA to herself and not good about sharing with others, it has been evident that the Chair of the Executive was an appendix that required a By-Lawectomy. A Chairman of the Executive -- no more. After all, it's tough to have two microphones operating at the same time -- especially when one person wants both. I have to give Michael Gelman credit for his patience and leadership here, but not for his apparent acquiescence.
3. And to those federations who were assured...promised...guaranteed...that there would be a "best we could get" Second Membership Criterion? There is a "model" floating around out there; one so weak and pathetic it represents "the least" not the "best ." Remember JFNA's leaders told you that the November 2010 Agreement with the Joint and Jewish Agency promised a Second Membership Criterion that promised the two "partners" greater funding ("...to increase overseas allocations to support the important work of JAFI and JDC"); and are now proposing a Membership Criterion that promises the opposite. Seems JFNA promises, assurances and guarantees were as misleading as the JFNA signature to that Agreement with JAFI and JDC in November 2010. That is to say...MEANINGLESS.
4. Finally, I have great respect for the lay and professional leaders of World ORT, but just exactly when did ORT (or is it World ORT, or ORT America or ORT Israel...who knows for sure) become a federation partner, a co-equal with the Jewish Agency and the Joint? Some friendship the Board Chair has with an ORT-something Chair? There's no there there. One of those ORTs is being fooled -- not invited to the GPT meeting in Florida...but in these By-Laws a "partner?" Come on. What's up with this...and why? The cash to the ORT from federations allocations through JFNA in 2011 was 1.45% of the infinitely small aggregate of allocations to JAFI/JDC. Terming ORT a "partner" is terribly misleading to all, and especially ORT itself. JFNA -- handing out the title "partner" and making it meaningless.
Someone STAND UP!!