Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I was sitting at my computer catching up on my e-mail when, almost simultaneously, three friends e-mailed an identical piece to me. It was Invitation to a fund raiser. I took a quick look and saw a handsome couple on the invite and then read down while taking a sip of coffee -- and, then I did what in the movies is called a "spit take," a double-take. I realized that Kathy Manning, our Board Chair, had once again, as she had last December, had agreed to be honored at a fund-raising event, this time by Hillel:The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. Now I know that the JFNA Board Chair has a strangely unrequited need for recognition and a microphone but accepting an award at a fund-raising event at the height of federation campaigns across the Continent merely confirms that these three years of "leadership" have had nothing to do with the federations, only with Ms. Manning. It's all so sad that she has really learned nothing over her terms as Chair of the Executive and Board Chair about the nature of her responsibilities to the federations themselves. JFNA is, after all, all about the Chair.

  • Commemorative Journal

  • *If you’d like to remain anonymous, please indicate below
    *Please note that $350 per seat is not tax-deductible
It's a wonderful honor from a fine organization -- but it's A FUND RAISER...get that...A FUND RAISER (see the gross cost of a seat above) for a national organization raising (or attempting to raise) major gifts in the midst of the federation annual campaign calendar.  And just what is the National Agency Alliance doing about this? (That's a joke; a rhetorical question.) Ever think of doing any fund raising for the federations? Of course not.

So, here's the secret to reengaging JFNA in the federations' Annual Campaign, the federations' lifeblood. Ask Kathy Manning if she would agree to be the Honoree at the First Annual JFNA Campaign Achievement Award. It's a winner for sure.


Sunday, May 27, 2012


As you might expect, when it comes to new, even, in this instance, important initiatives, JFNA's Budget is inadequate to cover the costs. So, the JFNA Planned Giving and Endowment Department determined that there is a system-wide need for Practice Manual that would protect federation Endowments from tax law changes. They produced a very convincing background paper on the need. And, then came the denouement:

"The legal and accounting expertise required to produce the manual is not cheap.  A ballpark estimate of the cost puts it at $100,000 to $125,000.    We would solicit bids from firms that have counseled federations on these issues in the past and have the depth and breadth to handle the engagement.  A draft of our Request for Proposals is attached.

At a recent Senior Advisory Council meeting, there was considerable support among endowment directors for the project, but they urged us to take our request directly to you.  We doubt that this task will be accomplished without raising the funds requested.  An average contribution of $5,000 would require 20 to 25 federations/Jewish community foundations to support this project.  Please let us know whether you support this project and how much in financial support you would commit to it.  Please respond to _____________ by May 22, 2012.  If we get commitments for less than we need to complete the project, we may undertake only a portion of it.  We would return unexpended amounts pro rata to federations that contribute."

Well, first, JFNA could try to find a law firm outside of Manhattan -- as a former lawyer, this estimate sounds totally beyond the pale. Second, no matter the cost, given the apparent imperative of the Manual to assist the federations, why not (may I even say it?) pay for the thing as a budgeted expense out of Dues?  I know this is an heretical thought, but, what the heck, I've already been banished from the Kingdom of Manning to wander the wilderness.

Then, another plea -- on May 17. Apparently, not too many positive responses to the first letter -- "[W]e have extended the response date to June 17." "It is not a JFNA budget item." But, the Compliance Manual " very important." (Italics JFNA's) It's just not important enough obviously to be in the Budget.

Yes, the Budget is otherwise committed -- Festivus, #ish, Heroes...stuff like that. There's just no room for a Practice Manual that would directly benefit the Federations. Nope, "...can't spare a square." So, the federations will line up, with " average contribution of $5,000." As always. As always. Or maybe not.

God bless 'em.


Thursday, May 24, 2012


~ TribeFest as The Caesaria Process???? In one of many papers distributed in connection with the Global Planning Table, JFNA wrote the following:

"Additionally, a variety of entities – JFNA’s National Young Leadership (offering many programs, including overseas missions, TribeFest, and others), the Wexner Fellowship program, CLAL, and, in the recent past, the Caesarea Process and Kol Dor – have developed interesting models for convening leaders from diverse locations.  Both locally-based and cross-boundary programs may be important ingredients in effective leadership development for the organized Jewish community." 

Yes, friends, Festivus has been elevated to one of the "interesting models for convening leaders from diverse locations." I do recall that some JFNA leader compared the Fest to Birthright, but this elevates that kind of stupidity to new heights and continues to bring shame to our national organization. Kal ha'kavod.

~ How Not to Complete the Journey. You may remember that the leaders of JFNA, who apparently don't know how to even ask an inanimate object -- like a federation -- for money, sent two letters (what they do best) to the federations asking for money (which they do often) to "Complete the Journey" of the remnant Falash Mura population from Ethiopia to Israel. The organization has been involved in Missions to Ethiopia and has written the Prime Minister -- a "strong letter" as I recall -- demanding that the Government of Israel expedite this aliyah. So, where do things stand? JFNA asked the federations $5.5 million in 2011; the Jewish Agency was assured that the funds would be forthcoming. The aliyah has been expedited thanks to JAFI's work in partnership with the Government. And the funding? Oh...that? Well, $1,000,000 has been received by the Agency from JFNA/UIA. JFNA has told JAFI that it has "pledges" from the federations in the amount of $3,000,000 -- no evidence, that's just what JFNA has stated. That $5.5 million ask? Don't ask.

Letter to follow.

~ Executive Recruitment.  I have been  hearing horror stories for months if not years about the professional leadership recruitment being done in the name of JFNA. Professional leaders being told "don't apply" as communities allegedly favor certain candidates; CEO searches on-going for up to two years, a third party consultant brought in and a hire takes place in weeks; the "same old, same old" names kicked around the Continent; and the like. Is all of this true? Any of it? What have been your communal experiences, if any?

~ Reply All.  You and 40 other people get an e-vite to a meeting. Why is it necessary to hit the "Reply All" key when responding? Do I care whether you will " there for the Cocktail Reception, Dinner and the Monday meeting?" Or whether you will " with (my) grandchildren?" Or, even, "can't make it?" NO. I love you but could you just tap "Reply" and go on your way, could you? Would you?


Monday, May 21, 2012


History has shown us that every dictatorship requires collaborators; those who can be counted on to "follow the leader," unquestioning and without regard to the values they once appeared to hold dear. So, why should JFNA be any different?

JFNA's leaders, and, in particular, its Officers and members of the sacred "inner circle," in most instances without the benefit of serious Federation CEO input, rely instead on two things: (1) unquestioning loyalty to the Board Chair and (2) their belief that all must be well if they are involved. The result, the creation of the circumstances of JFNA's failure: a series of programs that are either copy-cats of those inherited from UJA and CJF and continued (often re-branded to appear somehow different); or wasteful "experiments" gone bad and repeated over and over again. The latter are programs which, in the main, are disconnected from any vision or purpose. This abject and unquestioning support has resulted in the waste of our money as if it were theirs and, when the financial pressure became grave because so much had been spent on so little, that shortfall became the pretext for these "leaders" to demand a bigger budget with the threat of rollbacks in just those programs that might actually have value to the federation -- like FRD.

And, permit me to distinguish between those leaders who have labored to save JFNA from itself and those who just line up like puppets and nod their heads up and down, some with such unnecessary enthusiasm they may have damaged their necks. The former are at least trying to effect change, albeit minimal; the latter, merely Quislings. I feel sorry for the former but applaud their efforts; I feel only contempt for the latter.

And, sadly, we knew and know these collaborators. We had reason to believe upon their election or appointment that they would perform in their JFNA leadership roles as they had in our federations. And, we were so wrong. They became the enablers, the pathetic sycophants without whom the Board Chair and CEO could not have moved their personal goals forward. These men and women, in the context of, for example, the Global Planning Table and the Second Membership Criterion, turned their backs on their own communal values as if they no longer believed in them or, suddenly, they knew much better. 

But, then came the results of the Nominating Committee: a Committee "gone rogue." With the Board Chair not on the Committee, the Committee acted with independence (and without any apparent instruction). This could be a turning point for JFNA. Let us hope so.

In the meantime,  congrats to all of you collaborators, you have created the institutional version of the Edmund Fitzgerald...but, of course, you "...are JFNA."

Know this...without the collaborators, JFNA would be in a far better place. It couldn't be worse.


Friday, May 18, 2012


One of our "system's" best and brightest wrote me offline with some suggestions for "adjustments" to the GPT that might make it actually work for the federations and the "historic partners." Here are his suggestions:

I finally got around to look at the GPT plan and what struck me as so obvious is that it could actually have done some good with a few smart adjustments:

1. A radically streamlined planning process and calendar (Are global needs that mysterious and is that much time necessary to get the job done?)

2. Voting rights on all levels for JAFI and JDC (last time I looked that fit the definition of partnership).

3. Choose two issues and designate each of the above partners as lead on one. The criteria should be old fashioned UJA simple - Clear gravitas and need, significant urgency, "only the Federation system can deliver", and readily marketable appeal to donors.

4. Devolve very early on the active planning on the chosen issues to the lead partners - while holding them accountable for a product to be delivered in a timely and quality manner. Create the expectation that the lead partner will engage in coalition the most relevant, willing and talented NGO and foundation collaborators.

5. JFNA can provide essential calibration, troubleshooting and back-up staffing and have an honored place and seats at the planning tables. GPT lay and executives should be engaged throughout and can "lead from behind" constructively (no slight intended in describing this CEO/COB type role). Think of how the best foundations and Federations shepard their pet projects. JFNA should be the point on resource development with the now bolstered resource development departments of JAFI and JDC pulling their weight."

Now, my friend, my colleague, wrote to me rather than to JFNA because he knows full well from his immersion in our so-called "system" for so many years, that no one there has the capacity to listen or the interest in doing so. Further, as I have written recently, it appears that the GPT is now and forever in the hands of a consultant who busies herself with inapt "background papers" and dictating policy while no one...that's no considering alternatives such as these.

No, these ideas are too good; they would maintain our relationships with our federations' historic partners, even enhancing them, while challenging them to deliver, to partner, to move our system forward. So they will be ignored.

Thanks to my friend, my colleague. Now, dear readers, I would welcome your thoughts.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012


It was no doubt inevitable that the Global Planning Table "process" would go the way of all things JFNA, after all, it started that way. The missive below went out to the historic partners adding to the burden of responding to each and every inanity and blind alley down which the GPT is being led. It was sent to me from inside JFNA with the comment: "No one dares criticize the stupidity of this thing."

So, friends, here is the latest evidence of the truism of the maxim: "If you don't know where yo are going any road will get you there."

"During the April meeting, we had a productive discussion about possible Working Group topics. Leadership and Community Development were themes that came out of the discussions and will be defined broadly to include the following:

1.  Leadership Development – including young leadership
2.  Community Capacity Building – including physical and organizational infrastructure – professional development
3.  Philanthropic capacity building – including helping  the not-for-profit sector – promoting and improving the quality of philanthropy – building the ability to raise funds in general
4.  Promoting and facilitating volunteerism of all kinds – hands on and volunteer leadership – volunteering as Jews to help others
5.  Safety and security – preparedness, monitoring,  working on intergroup tensions, responding to violence and anti-Semitism, crisis management, rescue

To ensure that the Working Group has a clear understanding of the work our partners are already doing (or have done) in these areas, we would like to request additional information from you. As with the previous research summaries, we will integrate this information into a larger set of materials that describe the issues related to these areas of work.

We recognize we have not asked for information in this area before and have a tight turnaround, but any additional information you can provide this working group would be greatly appreciated.  We need to receive this no later than next Thursday, May 10.  As with all responses, please cc Karen Barth"

Karen Barth is the consultant to the GPT taking her orders from _____ _______.(Fill in blank yourself.) The recipient organizations were given five business days to respond. So the crucial work of the partners is to be set aside to respond to....this.

For the moment let's pretend that the Global Planning Table has a real purpose to it -- offering new and critical programmatic and funding options for meeting critical, vital needs in Israel and Overseas. If you understand the federations (oh yeah...them) needs (oh yeah...them) that would be met by 1, 2, 3 or 5 above, please clear up my confusion. The one-legged table that is the GPT is keeling over.



Monday, May 14, 2012


Let me state at the outset of the Post that I knew Rabbi Herb Friedman, z'l. He was my friend and mentor. We met often in New York and spoke as recently as in the weeks before he died. He was a huge figure in Jewish life and my life and in the lives of so many. In our weekly chats, he never failed to bemoan the fate of the Young Leadership Cabinet and to excoriate me, as only Herb could, for pushing what he called "the disaster" -- the merger of UJA and CJF into... 

So, when I read the treacle below and the closing line, all I could do was lift a toast to Herb, who, contrary to what Jerry Silverman wrote, would have seen the sorry state of today's Cabinet as nothing more than evidence of how far our system has fallen. 

Here's what the President wrote, with my comments.

"Young Leadership Cabinet Alumni Inspire Today's Leaders"

May 11, 2012

In 1963, a group of upwardly mobile men in their early thirties joined together to create the Young Leadership Cabinet at the behest of Herb Friedman, chief executive of United Jewish Appeal. A mentor and visionary, Friedman taught the Cabinet members about Jewish responsibility, about the history of their people, and about why they should be proud of their heritage. He convinced them that they could be tomorrow’s leaders, and make changes in the Jewish world that were so desperately needed. Ten years later, nearly every national Jewish organization was led by a Cabinet alumnus, each of whom made a tremendous impact on the Jewish community and the state of Israel. The issue is not what these alumni and others of the Cabinet in that era accomplished for their federations and our partners since. The issue is what Is the Cabinet today and where will its graduates be in the future? A Cabinet today that apparently lacks all membership criteria; where the per capita giving at the last Retreat was a woeful $6,000; where there are no goals or demands (other than "come to TribeFest").

This weekend, more than 40 of those leaders gathered in Washington, D.C. at the 50th reunion of Young Leadership Cabinet members from 1960 to 1970. I was honored to stand among them with my colleagues Joanne Moore (who herself is a National Young Leadership Cabinet Co-Chair alumna) and Barry Shrage, president of CJP, Boston’s Jewish Federation, listening to their stories of triumph and tribulation, awed by their incredible accomplishments in the face of insurmountable obstacles. These men transformed the global Jewish community for the better, and helped build an Israel that is today a haven for Jews from around the world. 

Joel Tauber, a Cabinet alumnus and a former chair of UJC, tells of a time when he and other Jewish leaders met with President Clinton while he was in office. “I told the president how The Jewish Agency for Israel had just gotten thrown out of Azerbaijan (actually, Russia) because the government said the Jewish Agency was convincing Jews to leave,” he recalled. “Before I told them about the situation in Azerbaijan (actually, Russia), none of the government officials in the room knew anything about it. By that weekend, the Jewish Agency was welcomed back to Azerbaijan.” As he does so often, Tauber makes the story about him and never lets the facts get in the way...but, in order to do so, he misstates history. I will leave it to others (who were there) to provide the facts when they choose to do so but, as in so many things, Joel left behind a mess that others (at the NCSJ) cleaned up. And, what did this "story," even if true, have to do with the Cabinet? (That's just rhetorical.)

In conversation after conversation throughout the weekend, you could hear, “Cabinet changed me; it exposed me to a greater good. It had a major impact on my life.” This was true not just in the first decade of the Cabinet but straight through my era, and to the formation of JFNA. The excitement of a Cabinet Retreat in Lake Bluff, Illinois to one in Scottsdale two decades later, has been lost; the inspiration of capacity giving with our peers, lost; the dynamism of Washington Conferences, gone forever to AIPAC.

The truth is the Cabinet experience and Cabinet leaders have influenced the world. They have had a major impact on lives across the globe.

Today, our National Young Leadership Cabinet stands on the shoulders of these trailblazing men. While they were sharing stories and reconnecting in Washington, a group of 45 men and women from today’s Cabinet were sharing stories and connecting in Greece, exploring the ways that they, as young leaders, can support our brothers and sisters in the Greek-Jewish community during a historic, devastating economic and political crisis. Next week, Cabinet members will visit Poland and travel alongside Chief Rabbi of Poland Rabbi Michael Schudrich and Honorable Member of Knesset Dr. Nachman Shai to survey the impact they can make in the Polish-Jewish community. Not an impact they make, but one that we as a federation system could continue to make with a shared vision and commitment.

Today’s NYL Cabinet continues make change in the Jewish world, caring for those in need and nurturing Jewish communities across North America, in Israel and around the globe. They serve as advocates and activists, leading and educating others about Israel advocacy, humanitarian endeavors, legislative issues and Jewish life. They are 300 strong, committed to shaping a bright future for the Jewish people. What Jerry doesn't understand, seemingly can't fathom, is that today's Cabinet is so far distant from Herb Friedman's vision for it, as to be out of real touch with Herb's dreams. Worse, Jerry hasn't a clue how to fix it because he does not know it is broken.

Herb Friedman would be proud. No, Jerry, he would be sickened comparing the glory of the past with the reality of today.


Thursday, May 10, 2012


Yes, friends, the JFNA Nominating Committee has been doing its work in complete secrecy and will soon spring its confidential results upon us. I could preempt the Nominating Committee announcement but I will observe the demand of confidentiality they have imposed upon themselves. The following is just idle speculation:

     ~ The new Chair of the Executive, if I have heard right, is a great choice. Someone who has "done it all" -- a Federation Campaign Chair, a Large City Federation Chair, an active leader in both one of our major national partners and one of our international historic partners. Excluded from JFNA leadership for no apparent reason. This leader will demonstrate both independence and a desire to heal.

     ~ The only thing I know about the rumored new Board Chair is that he has the same name as my brother-in-law.  He has neither served as an Officer nor as a Chair of any critical JFNA body nor as a member of the Manning "Coordinating Council" nor has he left any footprint in the dust of  the current JFNA. And his name is spelled wrong in the JFNA 2011 Annual Report. I mention this non-service not as a negative but because it is a positive attribute of a new leader of a failing organization -- except the misspelling.

So, if what I heard is correct,  what we will have as the two new Chairs are leaders untainted by what has been going on. But, one is certainly knowledgeable even as that leader has been almost willfully excluded from any important role at JFNA by the current Chairs, and the current and immediate past CEOs. This historic nominating process  suggests to me that the current Board Chair either was unable to impose her will on this Nominating Committee to get one of her sycophants elevated (although who is that I am hearing will now be Treasurer and Chair of Budget/Finance?) to one or both of these offices; or she just wasn't around. (And, I can't believe it was the latter because in the history of every organization with which I have been involved, the sitting Chair has always sat ex officio on the Nominating Committee).

Someday soon the names will emerge in some public announcement...and I will prove to be prescient or totally misinformed.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012


The Global Planning Table -- that epic piece of "work" that is, in reality, a three-legged stool -- met in person in Chicago on April 23. The attendance -- 32 leaders including 8 or so from JAFI and JDC and multiple members of the JFNA staff were present along with an unannounced number of phone participants -- is the best evidence of the overwhelming lack of federation interest in this joint creation of the Board Chair and a consultant. Together with a supportive CEO, they managed to ignore each and every criticism moving inexorably forward toward the stool (I know, I know) they have now produced.

They convened a meeting at which those attending in person were literally flooded with consultant and staff work product at the last minute, papers which at best are overly simplistic, citing other source materials, paternalistic or judgmental (when is the last time you read a paper with the imprimatur of our national organization that termed the West Bank "occupied territories"), or written to the lowest common denominator? And since when do we just turn our meetings over to a Consultant when the GPT and Board Chairs are right there? But, so be it. 

And, what have we got? A Partnership Committee, a GPT Committee, some form of Executive/Steering Committee (where the "real" decisions will be made) and maybe three, maybe five, "Commissions" to study and recommend (like they do in New York [which, BTW, actually raises the money that will then be allocated]). Please stop reading if any of this makes sense to you. JAFI and JDC have already "invested" a huge amount of time to this exercise in futility as have, I am sure, World ORT and the Ethiopian National Project, the latter two now also known as "historic partners." At the end of the day, this time investment for all is in the nature of "playing defense" against JFNA's leaders' intent to totally disengage from historic core allocations support (other than lip service.)

Here you had federation lay and professional leaders summoned to Chicago (the wise stayed away) and a strong sense among those with whom I spoke that they had, as one told me, "...wasted another day and about $1000 (in air fare, hotel, etc.) that neither I nor my community could afford." And, this is only the beginning. It is true that many federation CEOs, in particular, among the Large Intermediate and smaller -- in the main, bright and knowledgeable -- see some sort of unidentifiable panacea, a Phoenix, arising out of the ashes of the core allocations to the Jewish Agency and Joint. In particular, some have emphasized to me, they don't believe JAFI's impact and disbelieve JDC's "case" any longer. Their solution -- well, it appears their only answer is the continuing defenestration of core allocations. And, JFNA is right there cheering them on chomping at the bit to offer any and all alternatives.

JFNA's leaders assert that "the GPT is not and will not be ONAD."  And, that's probably true -- ONAD in retrospect will prove to have been about the Joint and the Jewish Agency; the Global Planning Table is all (and only) about JFNA. We have previously pointed out that consultants in Israel independent of JFNA have already begun prepping 1000s of NGOs there to assault not just the GPT for support but your federation and mine. (Has Silverman called these consultants, who know our system extremely well, to "demand" they stop? And with what affect?) While ONAD, until JFNA lay persons at the time tried to substitute their unilateral judgment for the ONAD Committee's collective judgment, focused on the totality of core allocations to JAFI/JDC, it seems clear at the outset of the GPT's convoluted "process" that this "Table" will be dealing with marginal dollars at the most. And if that is the end product -- marginal dollars extended to marginal organizations -- along with the termination of assured contractual distributions to the Agency and Joint as has historically been the case, what will we be left with? C...H...A...O...S. And, in the midst of failure, JFNA will declare "victory is ours" while every Jewish non-profit is banging on the federations' doors.

But the CHAOS didn't end with the GPT way. Just two days ago, the internet was flooded with more requests of the "partners." There was this:

      Attached you will find two document on the Rest of the World topic- an Overview and Identity.  We expect to have the Caring one to you shortly.  Please take a look and get them back to us with your comments this week.  We would like to get the Overview which was sent last week by Monday, May 7, 2012 and the Identity document by Thursday, May 10.  We are trying our best to be respectful of your time and keep on our schedule to have them ready to share with the GPT Committee members before the June meeting.  

Immediately followed by this:

 We took a crack at the Leadership and Community Development document and thought it might be easier for you to review this, send us comments or additional information.

We recognize we have not asked for information until late this week and have a tight turnaround, but any additional information you can provide this working group would be greatly appreciated.  We need to receive this no later than next Thursday, May 10.  As with all responses, please cc Karen Barth.  

Read this in context -- you got three days. Yes, friends, there is a new definition of insanity -- the Global Planning Table. Participate at your own risk. 

And the worst of it? It didn't have to be this way. Next time we'll offer additional suggestions on how this insipid, convoluted "process" might be fixed.


Monday, May 7, 2012


No, I am not making this up. This appeared in nyc aviation newsletter under Aviation News:
"Israeli President Shimon Peres has arrived in Canada on an official five day visit, but no thanks to his country’s national airline.

Israeli media reports say an unusual row erupted last week between the President’s office and El Al when the airline demanded he pay $5,000 fee to bring an oxygen tank, a charge that had not been issued before.

The tank and other medical equipment must be carried with the President under Israel’s security protocols.

Peres instead decided to fly Air Canada.

El Al has since apologized to the President."


Saturday, May 5, 2012


As we all know, JFNA begat the GPT and, now, the GPT will begat...CHAOS!!

"Challenge and Opportunities in Fundraising from Federations and Family Funds in the USA
Learning Seminar

JFNA is a Jewish, Zionist organization that brings together 157 Federations and some 400 independent communities across the US and Canada. The Federations centralize and guide institutional Jewish activity, mainly fundraising from the community for Zionist and Israeli causes. The total amount of donations from American Jews to Israel has doubled in the past two decades. In 2007, $2.1 billion was raised for Israel. In past years many from the Jewish communities around the world are asking to be more involved in their philanthropic investments, to know where their money is going and to receive reports. Lately, JFNA is considering whether to allow additional organizations beyond the Jewish Agency and the Joint to compete for their funding which is around $140 million a year.

In the US, there are thousands of Jewish Family Foundations. Many of them contribute to Israel and the competition to receive funding from them is great. Only the most professional and persistent, succeed. During the seminar we will hear in detail about these Foundations, and how to fundraise additional money from them.

The Speakers:

·        Natan Golan – resume omitted

·        Jeff Kaye –resume omitted

The participants in the seminar will receive a list with information on 100 Family Foundations in the US.

The seminar will take place on Monday, May 14th, 2012, between 10:00-3:30 at the Weil Auditorium, #4 Hanetah St., Kfar Shmaryahu.

The cost of participation is 310 NIS (including VAT). Payment must be made in advance to participate."

The fund raising consultants' announcement of their Seminar for the literal 1000's of Israeli NGOs which might participate in the GPT process and, if not, might soon be knocking on federations donors doors, is probably welcomed by those at JFNA who still know nothing about the communal discipline necessary to run a successful Annual Campaign (or really don't care about this life's blood of the federation system). But, both Natan Golan and my dear friend Jeff Kaye know plenty about it...and about supplemental FRD, as well. 

Rumor has it that JFNA is putting great pressure on the consultants to cancel the Seminar. But, what's the carrot and what's the astick and do JFNA's professionals know the difference?

Were I a leader of an Israeli-based NGO, I would consider the 310 NIS cost of this Seminar to be a wonderful investment. If I were a federation leader I would be afraid...very afraid.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012


~ A Sign of the Apocalypse. Jewlicious was a "partner" in Tribefest. I know its leaders to be persons of exceptional good will. We also learned that a Jewlicious "representative," the writer of a very positive opinion piece on Festivus was present as "Press" and no other leader of Jewlicious was present. Hence, the ramblings of one of its leaders about Festivus 2 titled JFNA'S TRIBEFEST HIT THE JACKPOT included the following:

"TribeFest is the best thing going for JFNA — a significant organizational and communal accomplishment for the largest charitable network in the Jewish world. So while participation on a national level at their annual General Assembly convention is down, and Federations around the country are downsizing, TribeFest’s 1,500 delegates is more that last year’s participation and shows no sign of slowing down."

Not surprising, Jerry S. reprinted the thing in its entirety. Let us merely note that if TribeFest's focus is now federation-centric, we need it even less. But...onward to LollapaJewza!!!

~ Even when they do right, they do it wrong. JFNA convened a March King David Society event with the Palm Beach Federation at which Former President Clinton was the draw.  I have written earlier that I thought this was a good indication that JFNA had a vague memory of a successful FRD heritage founded in the UJA's annual Palm Beach weekend.  No surprise, they screwed it up.

The National Campaign Chair was there -- a nice, small crowd of major donors was there. From what I have heard, a good welcoming dinner at a beautiful home. Fund raising? This was a JFNA event after all.

Someone (duh??) apparently dictated that the event also be about the Board Chair. So, after the former President's speech, as the evening dragged on toward 8:30, then 9 then 9:30, she sat as the gentle inquisitor of the evening, asking her pop-up questions of the ex-President without regard to the fact that the audience had yet to eat and many had left or nodded off. What could have been a fun event for all turned into a long night for everyone but Kathy. (No, I'm not sure if she sang. That would have been nice.)

If JFNA can't even run a "party," seemingly it's current raison d'etre, what's left? Festivus 3?

~ When All Else Fails. Yes, I am aware of the Cigar Nights, Deli Nights, and there are probably even Bingo Nights but is it a sign of the times or of desperation when a federation creates a Man Cave event? Once a community of great potential with approximately 35,000 Jews. Well, here's the description of the Man Cave Night:

"Many men will be supporting the Jewish Federation...when they participate in the inaugural Man Cave 2012 event...The evening's highlights will include an open bar, cigar tasting and scotch tasting with a 20-minute educational session. Food trucks...will be on hand. Private jets and exotic cars will be on display..."

Unlike the Festivii (the echoes of which resonate here) there will be a a minimum gift $200 for "adults" and "$100 for young men..."

What's next? Pork Night?