Thursday, February 16, 2012


With the JFNA Board's approval a while back of another (ho-hum) $30.3 million Budget, one that once again rarely associates any of its "planned" programs with any dollar amount, it occurred to me that perhaps we ought to consider just what our federations, our agencies and/or our partners might have spent the $600,000,000....that's $600 million, friends...for matters meaningful, even critical, rather than wasting so much of it on pet projects and personal agendas and vendettas.

Think about it: $600,000,000!! Not a small number; about what what we transmitted to the Jewish Agency from the great Operation Exodus Campaign, sufficient to leverage the aliyah for 1,000,000 Jews from what was the Soviet Union. What might we, as a continental community done with that truly outrageous amount? We could have provided Jewish pre-school and day school scholarships to tens of 1,000's of families. We could have responded to the Joint's continued unmet needs in the FSU? Or given federations the ability to meet the needs of a massive outbreak of new Jewish poor in our midst? We could have met the needs of Birthright or fully funded JAFI's MASA program. Instead, we have thrown and throw an equivalent amount at JFNA and in little, so very little. Is it fair to criticize the lack of purpose and the waste? Or is it merely a waste of time to do so?

And, coupled to the wandering, we find JFNA in total disregard of the financial crises facing not just our historic partners but, apparently, those facing our own communities. Now there is the suspicion, engendered by the time devoted to the subject at the Orlando Retreat and a subsequent Leadership Briefing (that demonstrated, once again, that the core value of "collective responsibility" is unknown to JFNA), that JFNA believes it can find purpose in wrapping itself in the cause of Israel's civil society. Why? Because it is the sense of the current JFNA leadership that that involvement, like its attempts to arrogate to itself the determination of federations' Israel and Overseas agenda and allocations, will make JFNA (and thereby its leaders) important. Forget the reality that JFNA has no proven capacity to accomplish anything beyond the reductio ad absurdum destruction of the FRD function that once elevated our national organization to such glory and the elevation ad absurdum of a TribeFest at such great expense -- a financial failure in Year 1, now a failure of design and purpose to come.

And, I guess that my friends in leadership of the federations, seeing no alternative to JFNA, and, basically, disinterested in trying to right this institutional version of the Costa Concordia, throw our money at it, with the hope that it will then float,  and vote for programs without inquiry or concern. How easily we have become coopted.

That was $600,000,000(+) and counting.



Anonymous said...

I was, like you, astounded at the number. As an amature statistician I put on a graph the $600 mil. In the first column I put at the top the years 1990-2000. In the Second column I put the years 2000-2010. I then listed the accomplishments under the first column the use of the $600 mil. attributing the rescue and absorption etc. I then did the same same thing under the second column and listed the accomplishments of JFNA. While your description is informative by itself if you make a graph or list side by side it is disgusting.

Anonymous said...

As long as Manning, Silverman, Smith and their board enablers are on the bridge, the ship is heading for the rocks. At least Kane knows something about a UJA-Federation. The rest is wasted communal cash. It's up to the communities to decide how to handle that inevitability.