Sunday, July 29, 2012


In his e-mail to JFNA leaders and Federation Executive, and in the call on JFNA insiders to spread the word that "the blog is wrong," Jerry Silverman was so terribly misinformed and misinforming. He constructed an "explanation" of what occurred within the Global Planning Table Work Group process that defies reason -- what we did, he claims, was to rebut those who wanted to "substitute 'Zionist Entity' for the "State of Israel'" in a JFNA planning document. Come on. "Zionist entity" has been the phrase most often used by those who would destroy Israel -- What federation leader would ever use the very term that the hatemongers and anti-Israel forces have used to characterize our beloved Israel as a substitute for it?

Here is what JFNA should have done and still could -- issue a Leadership Briefing from Manning, Butler and Silverman simply stating: "We will take all steps in our power to assure that the core values of Zionism will be incorporated in the final work product of the Global Planning Table."

Would that be so hard?


As with so many if not all of you, I am so proud to come from a community, a federation, which embraces Zionism and the centrality of Israel in our lives as among the most cherished core values upon which our community has been built. I known that the federation lay and professional leadership in Chicago will continue to demand that the values embodied in Zionism will be at the forefront of our work because they understand that we build upon those values and principles not upon their negation or exclusion.

Surely Chicago's leaders will work with the leaders of other federations across the Continent and with those at JFNA to insure that our understanding of the meaning and values of Zionism continues to inform our national organization's work.



Anonymous said...

a look at the future:

JFNA Leadership Bulletin - Tisha B'Av 5773:

"Although primarily meant to commemorate the destruction of the Temples, Tisha B'Av is also considered appropriate to commemorate other Jewish tragedies that occurred on this day, most notably the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, one of the concluding events of the Iberian Reconquista, and the death of the ill-conceived, poorly executed and disastrously marketed Global Planning Table."

Anonymous said...

The fact that JFNA has not issued the simple statement that Richard proposed (using their own words, of course) is the best evidence there is that JFNA has made an internal policy decision (not sure by whom) to exclude any JFNA commitment to Zionism or the values represented by Zionism. How can these people, who represent us presumably, do that and remain in office or in employment?

Anonymous said...

I am a Federation Chair and I commit right now that our Board will immediately reconsider its membership in JFNA if JFNA doesn't immediately reconsider its position on the term "Zionism."

RWEX said...

This is to "Jeff" who attempted to post two Comments, one from Jeff ____ and one from Anonymous, both of which accused me of sinat chayim while commiting sinat chayim yourself and, in addition, attacking my federation. Your Comments won't be posted altough I found them...amusing.

Anonymous said...

Here's the full text of Silverman's latest -- sent Tuesday, July 31, 2012 7:34 AM

[Drash: Silverman acknowledges that there was a debate between using "enhancing the Zionist enterprise" and the phrase "enhancing the State of Israel." He asserts that JFNA stands for "Zionist principles," although he doesn't use the 'ism' word. My guess is this has to do with the Global Planning Table's tensions with the Jewish Agency over mission, and is not about left-wing critiques of "Zionism." These are bureaucrats vs. bureaucrats, arguing over who gets to control American Jewish dollars in Israel and for what purposes.]

Silverman's statement:

Late last week, the Jewish Press published a story that absurdly and falsely calls into question the Jewish Federations’ unshakable commitment to Israel and Zionist principles. For decades, Federations have been wholly committed to ensuring that Israel is stable, thriving and integral to Jewish people throughout the world. Such deep support for Israel and dedication to Zionism has been, and always will be, a fundamental Federations principle. So when our values and the principles upon which Federations are built are attacked so carelessly and baselessly – when we are confronted with lashon hara – we must set the record straight.


Anonymous said...


The Jewish Press story is based on distorted, second-hand reports from a recent Global Planning Table working group meeting in New York. Let us reiterate what actually was discussed at the June meeting – not the imagined and invented version.

The Global Planning Table will help ensure that Federations extend our vital mission to support Jewish communities in Israel and globally through the 21st century. The June in-person meeting featured important discussions about how the Global Planning Table can succeed in its mission to embrace the most compelling challenges and opportunities to strengthen and build the Jewish people, ensuring that our collective philanthropic investments have meaningful impact where most needed.

As part of these discussions, group members separated into four working groups to focus on different areas of need in the Jewish world. The working groups, like JFNA itself, are comprised of volunteer and professional leaders representing 155 Jewish Federations. The working groups are scheduled to meet three times during the summer to recommend priorities to the full GPT Committee this fall.


Anonymous said...


During its initial meeting, a working group focused on Supporting Israel’s Civil Society discussed how Federations could work to strengthen Israel and the connections between Israel and Diaspora Jews by focusing on such issues as religious pluralism. While the working group made significant progress upon the issues and priorities, there was some disagreement about the precise language to describe its vision in its recommendations back to the larger GPT Committee.

Specifically, one member of the working group recommended using the phrase "enhancing the Zionist enterprise." Another member of the group recommended using the phrase "enhancing the State of Israel." Members discussed a variety of language options for the vision statement. However: the working group made no decision about language. It did not vote on any specific language. It produced no report.

Where there was clear and firm consensus, however, is that the work being proposed will strengthen Israel and the connections between American Jews, Israelis and Israel. On policies and priorities, the working group reaffirmed our deepest support for Israel and Zionist principles. Following the meeting, we heard from a number of participants who are excited about the progress of the working groups and about how the Global Planning Table will support our larger work to stand with Israel and the Jewish people.

The ongoing support of Israel has always been fundamental to Federations and to JFNA. Our system sends hundreds of millions of dollars each year to Israel to support the vulnerable, to assist in education programs, to help new immigrants, to assist in job and skills development, and to provide concrete expressions of solidarity during Israel's darkest hours. We connect American Jews to Israel and Israelis by supporting birthright and other youth and young adult programs, community and national missions to Israel, and innovative partnerships between our communities and Israeli communities. We are proud to be holding our 2013 General Assembly in Israel, where we will have an opportunity to highlight the important work we do with our partners in Israel.

So why are we faced with a story that is so wrong? One member of the working group shared his thoughts about the language discussion with a blogger critical of Federations and the Global Planning Table, who twisted what really happened into a version with no basis in reality. The Jewish Press subsequently picked up this false account. What should have been a positive story about how Federation volunteers and professional leaders met to discuss how to strengthen our support for Israel and Zionist principles turned into a demonstrably false story that hangs on a phantom, non-existent report.

It is our responsibility – on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of individuals in the Federation movement who have selflessly devoted their lives to supporting the State of Israel and Zionist principles – to refute these false allegations and set the record straight.

Ultimately, this unfortunate episode is a distraction. Our focus is to support Israel and Jews in need around the world, to build connections between Jews and their homeland, and to strengthen the Jewish People and the Jewish State. These are the fundamental values of JFNA, the Federation system, and our new Global Planning Table.

We have just observed Tisha B’av, commemorating the destruction of the second temple, which tradition teaches was brought about by sinat chinam, causeless hatred and deliberate disunity. We will soon enter the month Elul, a time of great introspection, as individuals and as a people. We welcome this time of teshuva – of returning – to our better selves in order to bring about a perfected future.

Thank you.

Jerry Silverman

President and CEO
The Jewish Federations of North America

Anonymous said...

Every year JFNA has this thing about Elul and the future. When will they practice what they preach?