Thursday, July 19, 2012


Earlier this week I wrote with sadness of what happens when our federations' national organization, out of indifference or ignorance or distraction by tiny shining objects, fails to comprehend that other organizations will be ready to step in and will in roles historically those of the federation system. In the last Post I wrote about JNF and Israel it is about the observation of the 25th Anniversary of the seminal federation-led event in our history -- the December 1987 Freedom Sunday Rally for Soviet Jewry. 

This void began two years ago when JFNA was called upon by a number of federations of all City-sizes to engage in a major way in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Operation Exodus. So what did JFNA do? It appointed a Committee, chaired by the ever-available Joel Tauber. Then, JFNA did nothing -- no celebration of the advocacy or the largest special campaign ever. No celebration of the leaders of the Refusenik Movement. Nothing. (Well, Tauber did give a speech in which he proved that even his prodigious memory fades, but he talked only about himself.) When numerous NCSJ leaders had urged JFNA to a bigger observance, even as many federations were reviving the inspirational memories of those days of advocacy, heroism and commitment, JFNA couldn't or wouldn't stir itself.

In part, that was the result of the almost total erasure of institutional memory.
That was also the past, of course, and JFNA was dedicated to the present and future. They had created a Committee, of course, wasn't that enough? They may have mentioned it at a GA; why can't they just leave us alone? That Committee chaired by Tauber? You've got to be kidding!!

Now, another opportunity. Not even after the formation of a wholly independent Freedom25 Rekindling the Soviet Jewry Movement did the chachams at 25 Broadway wake up. Yet, who, it turned out, were the "partners" in Freedom25 -- JCPA, the NCSJ, the Jewish Agency, HIAS, the JNF and on and on. Federation leaders themselves  were slow on the pick-up -- so sad because Freedom Sunday 25 years ago was the federations' seminal moment, it was our time...Operation Exodus was our success...but not now, not anymore. 

Now, prodded no doubt by Federation CEOs who remember that this was our event, our time, JFNA is trying to play catch up. Of course, there may be one professional still there with any institutional memory, if that's what is needed. My prediction: JFNA will now appoint another Committee, chaired by...Joel Tauber...and maybe put it on the agenda of the inevitable Festivus 3. That will be in March 2013? So what?

I despair. We have a tagline though. Today, it could never again be We Are One...I'm thinking maybe it's time for We Are Done.

What do you suggest?



Anonymous said...

I am a federation CEO. My lay leaders want us to join up with this independent celebration, pay the membership cost and credit our wasted JFNA Dues

Anonymous said...

This is such a sad chapter -- filled with abysmal ignorance by those in leadership of JFNA of the undeniable fact that as federations we build upon a great history

Anonymous said...

25 years ago the CJF had a real leader....Shoshana Cardin. And the soviet Jewry movement had Joe(z"l) and Connie Smukler. Who are today's leaders?