Friday, March 30, 2012



Now that the great, incredible, fantastic success (did I mention "incredible"?) of Festivus 2 is behind us (and even while certain participants who shall remain nameless are still wandering the Strip), we at JFNA are, as always, looking forward. "To our future," as we say even as I have to admit our arms are so damn tired from patting ourselves on the back.

Many of you who took Latin in the halcyon days of yore will remember "panem et circenses," the phrase which summarized the Roman formula for creating a docile population; give them "bread and circuses" and they will be yours. Here at JFNA it's just circenses -- the circuses have proved to be more than enough. And, have we got a circus planned for you. As we say in Latin: "Give a listen."

Given the undeniable (sure, you can deny it but here at 25 Broadway, we're not listening) success of two TribeFests -- young Jews subsidized by their Federations (well not "theirs" quite yet, but we have a tool kit for that) and the JFNA Endowment, awash in alcohol, testosterone and Vegas, the last one had a Budget of $818,000 (before staff travel and overhead) and an estimated 1400 participants (that's hysterical laughter you are hearing behind me) or a cost per participant of $584 per head (or $715 per at the real cost; yeah, that's astonishing, even astounding, but, boy, did we get bang for your bucks) -- with all that success, next year JFNA will proudly sponsor the first ever LollapaJewza. The first Jewish rock, rap 'n hip hop music festival for Jewish Young Adults --our favorite audience. "It's a natural move after the great achievements of these two Fests," said President and CEO Jerry Silverman. "It's like moving Dockers from pleats to straight-legged -- a no-brainer." Asked to list the "achievements" of Festivus 1 and 2, Silverman deferred to his new Managing Director of the Office of the CEO, who could not be found.

At the recently adjourned Festivus 2, high marks went to the performers on the Main Stages and at the Mosh Pits...and at the bars and in the suites. So, so popular. So JFNA staffers just sneaked a copy to us of the performers already scheduled for LollapaJewza 1: Diwon (producer and DJ), Dege Feder (Ethiopian dancer and choreographer), Hatikva 6 ("honorable 33rd place on the list of the 60 best songs in Israel's then 60 years"), Aya Korem (Israeli chanteuse), Moshav (Israeli musical group), the Drei Kopfs (singing group of Jewish mothers-in-law), the Alta Kachers (old Jewish men yodeling badly), Chutzpah (the "World's First Ever Jewish Hip Hop Supergroup"), The Adelson Elementary School Choir (big hit at the Festivus), Etan G ("the Jewish Rapper") and, of course, Rabbi Perl and the Rockin' Rabbis. (Do you know which ones actually performed at Festivus 2?) And, more...names too big to be released as yet. Those LollapaJewza Mosh Pits will run with Jewish blood.

And one of the five Main Stages will be dedicated to those we've invited -- like the pro-BDS crowd and J-Streeters -- but don't really want to attend. We'll charge 'em the same as anyone else but their Main Stage will have no acts; just speeches by the Israel Action Network on a continuous loop. It'll be just a way to increase our numbers and, if you know anything at all about us, it's all about the numbers we can claim.

If Festivus 2 was worthy of a waste an investment of $1 million, then LollapaJewza -- $2, $3 million. We're thinking, not a hotel in Vegas, Madison Square Garden. We're not just talking "big," we're talking "huge." TribeFestivus had one Main Stage; LollapaJewza -- five; the Festivi wasted three days (plus travel); LollapaJewza -- one week. Registration -- $500 -- but there will be subsidies (insiders tell me that JFNA is considering a $600 per person subsidy). When asked if the federations would permit a LollapaJewza, Board Chair Kathy Manning replied: "We're not planning to tell them; we're folding it into the Global Planning Table. No one will even notice."

Of course.


With apologies to those who produce the remarkable Lollapaloosa on Chicago's lakefront every Summer with great success. We've stolen the idea from you just as we stole the Festivus from Jewlicious.


Anonymous said...

Richard, I never knew you had such a humorous streak.

paul jeser said...

I met a participant last night and ask her what she thought. She said that it was one of the best parties she's ever been to!

I asked her about content - her reation "best parties I've ever been to."

She didn't remember any of the speakers, just the entertainers.

RWEX said...

Sense of humor -- moi? Non? Or at most less than I used to have.

And is it possible to make a laughingstock of a laughingstock??

Anonymous said...

Wait!! We are not yet at the grand finale. On Monday hundreds of newly "inspired" young adults will go back to their communities (which declined their request for a subsidy last month) and say "here I am an $800k investment, I am here to get involved" and the community says????

Anonymous said...

Just like JFNA...they claim that Tribefests were for the unaffiliated, then they offer "subsidies" thru the federations. Who did they think federations would subsidize? The unaffiliated or those already in the federation "family?" So this became a "reward" event for the already affiliated and a few hangers on. Why even have this time-consuming, expensive "thing?"

Anonymous said...

Can ANYONE explain the value of a TribeFest convened and run by JFNA? I have given this a lot of thought as have my lay leadership and we find this to have been among the greatest wastes of money yet.

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of reasons to be critical of Tribefest. Many. BUt there is benefit to bringing the group of Federation connected Jews together to celebrate their Federation affiliation. That is there way of being Jewish. They are not deeply spiritual, curious, or thinking outside the box. They are a mainstream, reform Jews, who feel connected when they federate. There has to be a place for them too, as much as we dislike the production costs, and the hyperbole, and the mis information about it reaching the unaffiliated.

Anonymous said...

In case you haven't seen this, here is a lovely write-up from Jewlicious about TribeFest. Would be great if you could share this!

Anonymous said...

Of course if is wonderful to bring together all of these people...but when a system does not exist to engage them after their return to home communities therein lies the problem.

Anonymous said...

I read the lovely write up about Tribefest on Jewlicious. Allow me, if I may, to provide some context. Jewlicious was at TribeFest I in full force, reporting on the scene, speaking at panels and they even threw a well attended party in a suite. This year, Rabbi Bookstein, the Jewlicious Festival Director and top vote getter of JFNA's first Jewish Community Heroes contest, was the sole Jewlicious presence and even he attended merely as Press - he wasn't invited or asked to participate. Thus, JFNA, in its wisdom, dispensed with the content but they did keep the party as Jewlicious sponsored an unofficial suite party again. Make of that what you will.

You have to stop saying that TribeFest stole the idea from Jewlicious. All they did was use the Festival concept. Jewlicious Festival runs on a shoe string budget and provides participants with relevant content in tandem with some great entertainment. For what TribeFest cost ($1 million? Seriously??) you could run 5 Jewlicious Festivals and still have lots of money left over. Jewlicious also manages to attract and engage young unaffiliated Jews, whereas TribeFest is made up predominantly of people already Federation affiliated. There's really no comparing the two and you diminish one by comparing it to the other.

So what was the deal with the glowing Jewlicious review? I couldn't say without sounding mean, but I guess Jewlicious is just trying to be a team player I suppose. Once again, make of that what you will.