Saturday, April 28, 2012


Woody Allen: I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.

When Manning, Gelman and Silverman publicly announced that the Second Membership Criterion was overwhelmingly approved by 57% of the vote not necessarily even 57% of the federations (this was a weighted vote, after all), they evidenced all that has been wrong with the JFNA "process" that led to its passage. Here is their expressed conclusion:

“The second membership criterion is about being part of our national community; it’s a statement about what it means to be a Federation and the collective vision that binds all Federations together,” said Kathy Manning, chair of JFNA's Board of Trustees. “It is a statement of shared purpose, and the actualization of our belief that all Jews are responsible for one another.”

My laughter comes from the reality that the Second Membership Criterion is, like JFNA itself, about nothing.

I feel for those federation leaders who spent countless hours demanding and then incorporating a paean to the historic relationship between federations, the Jewish Agency and the Joint as a Preface to the Criterion itself. For nowhere...not this pathetic announcement did JFNA's leaders cite even their personal commitment to the system's Historic Partners just as the Criterion itself does not. Not a mention. JFNA's leaders' message to those federation leaders who worked so hard to include JAFI and JDC: "Thanks for writing that, now go back to your little corner and just support what we've done." And, so they will. 

And my laughter rises to a crescendo when I read phrases like "...being part of our national community" or "what it means to be a federation' or "statement of shared purpose..." when this so-called Second Membership Criterion means none of those things...none. In fact as one of the express purposes of merger -- one of the inducing purposes -- was to increase the financial resources of the system's great partners in Israel and Overseas, this "Criterion" is in total derogation of purpose.

The dictionary definition of "criterion" says it all: "...a standard on which a judgment or decision may be based." By any measure this "Criterion" suggests a judgment of failed leadership, failed purpose, failed understanding...failed...failed...failed...but laughter ensues.



Anonymous said...

One of the crtieria of good leadership is to build consensus. 57% (on a weighted vote no less) is not building consensus. I imagine that 57% of the wieghted vote can come from a handful of federations, perhaps as few as 15 out of the 155 or so - less than 10%. Richard, can you confirm what the total percentage of votes held by the top 15-20 federations is?

Anonymous said...

It is rude and impolite to laugh at idiots. Shame on you. This vote can only invoke tears and shame on all of us.

The only thing collective here is our heartbreak.