I understand the sense of desperation at JFNA over the probability that TribeFestivus II will be as big a financial failure as the first Festivus. So, here's what's happening (or not happening):
~ JFNA Senior professionals have made it abundantly clear in writing that the overriding purpose of TribeFest "...is the collective goal of bring more people to TribeFest."
It's all about the numbers; the numbers are the "goal." Thus, after
offering the Endowment Committee "seven ways" staff -- for this is a
staff driven thing with YLC lay leaders around for support and script
reading -- to apply a $100,000 proposed grant, ultimately staff decided
to offer 500 additional potential registrants a $200 subsidy. Seeing as
73% of all participants in Fest 1 were subsidy recipients, sounds
like a good way to hype the numbers for a Conference that, like the old
Seinfeld show, like JFNA itself, appears to be about nothing. But it is
about something -- TribeFest II is all about spending what JFNA
estimates (and JFNA is really bad at this) $818,259 before staff travel and overhead...this is therefor a $1,000,000 event. Where was the debate over this investment? Rhetorical question. Numbers for numbers sake.
Forgive me but I can think of ten things or more that JFNA might be doing with $1 million that responds to the needs of federations, that would produce more young leaders. But, at JFNA...this.
~ National Young Leadership will convene a pre-Festivus "Leadership Development Institute" in a transparent effort to pump up attendance. So, here you have it: Festivus "designed" for the non-affiliated will be integrated with NYL -- supposedly the "elite" of the affiliated young adults. JFNA is so confused and desperate, they don't even see the conflict...can't have a deficit;
~ The confusion that is promised by the Global Planning Table "process" will now be exacerbated as the Festivus attendees will be surveyed as to how our donors Israel and Overseas dollars should be prioritized and distributed. Yes, JoAnne Moore will devote a session -- say that's an hour -- to "explaining" our system's historical commitment to Israel and overseas needs and the GPT itself and, then, these young men and women will be asked for their "input." I can think of nothing more pandering or ridiculous, other than the waste of Festivus itself.
Best I can tell the "LDI" (yes, in the great tradition of JFNA, this thing has already acquired its own acronym) will last for 5 hours (and that includes at least lunch and, probably, breakfast), cost $99 (in addition to the $499 cost [less subsidy] of the Fest) and the speakers will all be professionals, mainly from JFNA or affiliates, each with little in the way of federation experience (not that that matters anymore). No lay persons, though there are Co-Chairs who will, no doubt, bring greetings and say farewell. Sad, but this is what the Young Leadership Cabinets have been reduced to -- no longer the fertile field of future federation leadership, just bringers of best wishes and cheerleaders for ideas no matter how weak. Oh, and "...professionals are invited to register to learn alongside lay leaders."
~ As of mid-December, 104 young men and women had registered; now the claim is that over 800 have -- amazingly, though the recession is still upon us, and there have been no apparent communal benefits from Festivus 1, allegedly 64 communities are already committed to subsidize Festivus 2 and JFNA copped a $100,000 "grant" for 500 more subsidies (see "above"). I am told that the YLC conducted "post conference programming...including the handbook, e-mails to assist communities to conduct innovative and creative activities following the Tribefest experience." Have you seen any of that?
~ I read somewhere about the Jewish Rapper Shyne, who, for some reason known only to Shyne himself, announced he was "rapping my tzitzis." Shyne will no doubt be front and center on the Main Stage at the Festivus. Enjoy.
~ And back on January 17, an attendee at the first Festivus wrote: "Now with TribeFest rapidly approaching, I think we need more dish on how that NEW IDEA is progressing in light of last year's 'results.' I was in Las Vegas and despite the fact that the vast majority of attendees were self-selected Young Leadership types, when discussing plans for this year almost no one knows about the massive cost overruns, the failure of achieving stated goals, etc. I mean I had a very fun time last year on my heavily subsidized trip - but I don't know how I can justify going again while remaining at peace with my conscience. So please - let me know how it's going. Please tell me that JFNA is taking active measures to organize a better event, to attract any new blood, etc. Please tell me this is not going to be just another booze soaked Vegas weekend."
Like you, I want to see more and more young men and women engage with our system. We have found the means to do so in Chicago and those from federation with credibility at JFNA have suggested both tried and proven ways to do so to JFNA time and again -- only to be ignored time and again. What we have instead is this pile of waste now to be repeated for a second year. So, JFNA will have lost two years wandering in the desert that is the Festivus/Festivii. Last year over $253,000 was lost on this thing and to avoid further losses this year, $100,000 was sought and granted from the JFNA's endowment and the attendance pleas and pressures began much earlier in 2012. And, remember this name...Rachel Dratch, star of 30 Rock (or was that Tina Fey?), and one big name draw at the Fest to come, along with multiple personalities from 25 Broadway.
So, here you have it: JFNA has made TribeFest its premier program. It's throwing $1,000,000 of its budget at it and asking you for more, assigning its top domestic professionals to it (most of whom by age alone should be as disqualified from attendance as I am) -- and it can articulate no purpose for it other than...numbers. This is junk programming; it is narishkeit; it is a terrible waste at a time that we cannot afford any.
At the end of the day, with all of the waste -- money, professionals' time that could be spent productively, the precious time of young Cabinet members and leaders (who have actually been convinced and convinced themselves that this is something other than "another booze soaked Vegas weekend." Remember last year, the YLC Co-Chair actually compared Fest to Birthright.) -- most tragic is how our system is being presented to those not affiliated with us and to those who are at an event like this.