Wednesday, February 15, 2012


 Someone from 25 Broadway, writing anonymously of course, attacked an Anonymous critic of the Fest whose Comment was one of many in response to HELL IN A HAND BASKET -- TRIBEFEST EDITION. The Anonymous to whom JFNA was "responding" had pointed out that the same JFNA writer had cited three Fest 1 programs wherein community philanthropy was presented and that represented less than 10% of the programs at a federation event. I have decided to print the entirety of this quasi-official response (for how could it be "official" if this courageous professional hides behind anonymity) with some commentary:

Dear friend, those were just a few examples of the whole. No, that was it -- three programs.  It is clear that the facts are not important here in this discussion, so I will leave it at that. Sure, when the facts are on your side, argue the facts, when the law is on your side, argue the law and when neither is on your side just "leave it at that." I am sorry you are so angry about something that is trying to do some good and has the support of the majority of the federations and people out there - at least that has been the surveyed feedback. We'd be glad to publish this "survey" right here. What we do know are the following facts: TribeFest was "planned" for unaffiliated young adults; yet, 75% of those in attendance were affiliated; a federation offering a subsidy is going to give priority to those affiliated with it; and JFNA so blindly lost over $250,000 on the 2011 "Event" that it begged the Endowment Committee for $100,000 that are going for even more subsidies; and JFNA has now added a new appendage to increase numbers -- a so-called "Leadership Development Institute" of 5 hours duration, including lunch, that is designed, best I can tell, strictly to increase the numbers at Festivus. N'est-ce pas? My suspicion is that ANYTHING that JFNA tries to do will not be good in your eyes, so why even bother to have this discussion. On these pages we would welcome ANYTHING that JFNA does well.

Just remember that there are a lot of good, honest and dedicated young professionals (there are some great young professionals at JFNA and I would wager that all of them are "good/honest" but I would wager that the Anonymous writer would not meet the age cohort of the invitees to the Fest). at JFNA who are working very hard on this, doing it with little or no budget (please -- we have seen the budget for the Fest - it's $818,000 not including staff time and staff travel -- so, do not insult your own intelligence), and are doing it in partnership (yes, that is a real word -- yes, and to JFNA, by its actions, it is only a word)) with our federations, our agencies, and organizations.
We don't think these attacks are funny.

Always good to hear from our friends at 25 Broadway.



Anonymous said...

I think you are too harsh on JFNA professionals. In his/her mind by JFNA standards $800k is a very little budget. To which I would only reply paraphrasing the same comment of that great senator from Illinois - $800k here, $800k there, pretty soon JFNA will be talking about real money.

Anonymous said...

JFNA professionals are very proficient an arithmetic. Just look at the reported GA attendance for the past 5 years.

Anonymous said...


It's not exactly on this topic, but want to hear your take on this as well:

UJC/JFNA in recent years seem to be tilting heavily Republican and even more recently in public communications such as Daroff's tweets (a full-scale examination of them is warranted, in my view, to show a lack of balance).

But the latest JFNA press release crossed a line: "Obama Administration Budget Threatens Charitable Giving". If you do a search on the JFNA website for "Bush", you won't find any similar such headline on any UJC/JFNA press release for anything that the prior administration had proposed in terms of, say, slashing funding for the social safety net that helps many Federation programs, for example. It is telling that only JFNA and the OU came out and bashed Obama like this, while other Jewish organizations were more measured in their response.

If the JFNA is to maintain its tax-exempt status, in my view it needs to tread far, far more carefully. That and, frankly, many who are political centrists or to the left will have less and less motivation to contribute to the Federation system.

paul jeser said...

Re: last post: NJCRAC z'l :-(

Anonymous said...

Re Daroff: the issue of bias is interesting but hardly the main point.

What is the point is a) where does JFNA public policy come from?

b)JFNA should be more protective of their image and standing than to give license to a professional to tweet without ongoing organizational vetting, particularly in the volume the man does. His public utterances (as the public policy face of the Federation system) should only reflect organizational policy and not his own musings and...

c)that department's mixing of domestic affairs and Israel related statements in the press (with a fairly hawkish right wing tilt no less) goes beyond the historic mandate of the office.

Anonymous said...

To the commentors on William Daroff and the Washington Action Office:

A) I agree with Richard's often-stated viewpoint that Daroff and the Washington Action Office are one of the few things JFNA does right.

B) Daroff has been recognized twice by JTA as being among the most influential Jewish twitteres in the world - and just this week the Huffington Post said he is one of the ten most prominent "Jewish Influencers" in social media. He has nearly 14,000 followers on twitter -- more than AIPAC; more than JTA; more than ADL, AJC, JCPA, B'nai B'rith, and the Conference of Presidents combined. At a time when we all complain that the federations and mainstream Jewish organizations aren't communicating with the next generation, here's a guy who is. And, it's not just speaking TO the Jewish world -- he's having a conversation -- discussing issues and demystifying both the Jewish world and the Washington power scene.

C) As for who decides what JFNA stands for, there's a Pillar (unless they've changed the name) that decides these things - lay leaders who vote on it. The priorities are listed on the website. Our federation board reviews them each year through our JCRC. If you look at the list it includes both domestic and international issues.

D) I hadn't noticed any bias on Daroff's twitter - but he tweets so much it's possible I missed something, so I went and looked just now.

There's a great deal about what JFNA is doing - news releases, columns, Festivus2, and Daroff's travels to federations.

As for the news and opinion tweets, here's what I see:

On the left side of the spectrum, last week he tweeted about President Clinton's endorsement of Peter Beinart's new book (which Beinart retweeted); when he was in Florida, Democratic National Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz tweeted welcome to him and they tweeted back and forth, yesterday he tweeted a White House justification for how Obama's budget deals with Israel, and he also tweeted about JFNA's demand that budget cuts not disproportinately impact the poor.

On the right side of the spectrum, he tweeted about Obama seeking a waiver to rejoin UNESCO despite their accepting the PA as a state, he tweeted about the new New York Times bureau chief playing footsie with lefties, he slammed the Arab League for its hypocrisy on Syria, and he does tend to tweet a great deal about Netanyahu.

All and all, I think he's pretty even-handed. Most of what he's doing is sharing news and information. And, as I wrote above, clearly he is doing something right -- 14,000 people in a demographic that the ish campaign geniuses would die to capture.

But, don't take my anonymous word for it, or that of my fellow anonymous commenters, look for yourself at

E) Lastly, I agree with Richard that JFNA is mostly irrelevant to what we do in our communities. But, I feel better about supporting our dues payment when I see the Washington Action Office take a lead role in fighting Obama's plan to reduce the tax deductibility of donations to non-profits. Like many here, I raise money for our federation. I know that tax code has an impact on the money that comes in to us - particularly amoung the very wealthy. When JFNA focuses on this issue - which really gets to what we are as a federation - a fundraising organization - it gives me confidence that someone at JFNA knows what my bottom line needs are.

RWEX said...

With regard to the Comments on William Daroff, I do associate myself with the last Comment -- under Daroff and a succession of excellent lay Chairs, JFNA-Washington is a singular bright light. The title to the most recent Leadership Briefing on Washington events was both unfortunate and accurate, wasn't it?

I wouldn't know a Tweet from a Twit -- so I will leave it to others to judge the value of Bill's to our system and to the federations. I have heard that it is the one place where amcha can get info about what JFNA is doing (other than this Blog, of course).

Anonymous said...

Even with the proposed tax code changes regarding charitable donations, the rich have simply accumulated a lot more $$ thanks to Bush tax cuts, no movement on capital gains taxes(see the pickle Romney's in), etc.

In historical terms, the rich in America have it quite easy today when it comes to taxes. And there are too many others who are hurting.

And again, the other side of the coin gets little attention by the JFNA media spin...prior Administrations have gutted funds for government programs essential to the work of the Federation system. That is as objectionable--if not moreso--than what the current Administration is proposing.

Anonymous said...

Contrary to the post of the previous commentor, much to the chagrin of Republicans like me, my federation and the Washington Action Office and JCPA might as well be an outpost of the Democrat Party. They are always railing against cutting government funding to support big government programs that perpetuate the welfare society. I'm not sure what universe the commenters above live on - but I wish the federation wasn't an appendage of the far left.