Friday, January 20, 2012


Back in the early Fall of 2010 JFNA's Board Chair and its CEO and President began pressing the Jewish Agency and Joint to enter into a tri-party agreement that would bind each and all of them to certain underlying understandings. I know the terms of the resultant Agreement of November 2010 because the Jewish Agency and JDC asked me to represent both of them in the negotiations -- over the JFNA Board Chair's opposition, expressed in an ugly, angry and hostile way. I saw my role as both an advocate for JAFI/JDC and as one who would strive to find common ground with JFNA/Manning/Silverman.

You should know that the Board Chair, as is her style, in order to control the "process," dictated a Draft apparently expecting that it would be accepted by the Agency and Joint as she had determined in her sole discretion. Eventually, thanks in large measure to Cleveland's Steve Hoffman's playing the role of shuttle diplomat, an agreement was reached that, in the main, reflected Manning's original draft. There was to be a Global Planning Table in form and substance agreeable to the Jewish Agency and JDC and tied thereto would be a Second JFNA Membership Criterion that would by the express terms of the Agreement "...increase overseas allocations to support the important work of JAFI and JDC." 

Throughout, the JFNA Board Chair demanded a "Severability Clause" that in reality stood the contractual concept of "severability" on its head. Typically, such clauses are intended to assure that "[I]nvalidity or unenforceability of one or more provisions of this Agreement shall not affect any other provision of this Agreement." The Board Chair to the contrary demanded the following language: "The provisions of this Agreement are not severable. The parties have agreed to this Agreement in its entirety." Ooops. Now the Chair is hoisted on her own petard...arising directly out of her own leadership, or lack thereof. Thus, there can be no GPT without a viable Second Membership Criterion, among other things.

Yes, JFNA has brought forward for consideration (but not action) a Second Membership Criterion that assures that overseas allocations will not "increase the important work of JAFI and JDC." JFNA action on the Second Membership Criterion as drafted places JFNA in breach of its own Agreement -- nothing new there -- but also in breach of the fiduciary duties that were explicitly incorporated into the merger that created JFNA itself. From JFNA -- a shrug, a "so what; we tried." JFNA committed by its execution of its own dictated agreement to lead an effort in support of that to which it committed. It didn't.

The national system -- JFNA -- was created to protect, enhance and increase the resources of the federations and its partners. Instead, this leadership has dedicated itself to the deconstruction of that which we believed to be sacred. The fiduciary crisis that our system now faces is one created by the system itself...hoisted on its own petard.

This is not leadership. It's shameful.


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