Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Here they go again. 

I want no credit for prescience, but I want to remind you that from the February 2009 JFNA Retreat forward, I had predicted the emergence of what would be called the Global Planning Table and the intent of JFNA to arrogate to itself the Israel and Overseas allocation function of the federations. Call that faulty process Step 1. Now it's on to Step 2.

Step 2 requires no great leap of faith. At the January 2012 JFNA Board Retreat, an extraordinary amount of time was spent focusing on "Israel's Civil Society." It's an important topic, no doubt, but never doubt for a moment that JFNA lay and professional leaders believe that they can impact on the incivility in Israel and, I guess, on Haredi attitudes and reprehensible activities in some as yet inarticulate manner. So far that "engagement" has reflected itself in "strong statements" in the usual JFNA style -- full of sound and fury signifying nothing; a letter "hand delivered" to the Prime Minister expressing our "concern" and demanding "action," and CEO Jerry visiting the Knesset with his liege, Ms. Caspi, grabbing whoever they can ("excuse me, are you a Knesset member? Can we have a moment"), traveling to Beit Shemesh, etc,and getting a mention or even an interview in the Israeli media. (If federation leaders happen to be in Israel on a Mission, they might be invited to watch participate.) 

Somehow, JFNA leaders have the belief that they can influence Haredi actions in Israel when they have no contact...none...with the Haredi community in North America. Let them start here, at home, not too far from JFNA HQ. Kathy and Jerry ought to take a trip across the East River and meet with the Haredi leadership; tell them of our concerns face-to-face; ask them to cease the violence,; to cease the uncivil activities right here at home; and to cease funding them in Israel. Then, through that success, influence actions directly in Israel. For the last, there's a toolkit somewhere at 25 Broadway...find it, use it...but, beware, it involves mobilizing the federations and, oy vey, lay persons.

But, our leaders won't do that...too hard; wouldn't involve JAFI (whose leaders might have advised Kathy/Jerry of the origins of today's incivility); and wouldn't attract funding from the GPT. But, none of this will stand in the way of JFNA's leaders -- those who have proved time and again that once they start down a path, they don't turn back -- TribeFest, a failure, let's do it again and, this time, we'll budget $818,000 plus overhead and staff travel; Community Heroes, no apparent purpose, but, look, Philadelphia copied us so let's do it again; the Global Planning Table, even though federations will continue to determine where they and their donors want their allocations to go, others have already committed to continue their core allocations to JAFI/JDC, hey, we'll just take dollars from the Israel and Overseas Endowment, its purposes be damned, and some federations will give us something to play with, won't they? And, we'll call it "collective responsibility" and...victory!!

Arrogance and hubris override reason. Onward, the critics be damned. It's the "JFNA way."



Anonymous said...

Before even the best shows take on the big apple they get their act together on the road in some small community. In thIs case I'd suggest Skokie, Illinois. Alternatively they can cross the river a bit further north into Queens and visit Montefiore cemetery for a conversation with the lubavitcher Rebbe. Not sure if the'll get a response but the publicity would come just in time for Purim.

Anonymous said...

Great idea! Agudath Israel is at 42 Broadway.