JFNA's leaders, with all good intentions, no doubt, made 2011-2012, at least informally, the "Year of Completing the Journey." Yes, JFNA's leaders were at the forefront among those demanding...demanding...that the aliyah of Ethiopian Jews not only be completed in 2012 but accelerated, if necessary, to do so. To that end, JFNA committed North American Jewry "...to raise the necessary $5.5 million for the third and final wave of aliya." This was to be "JFNA's special effort." Ahhhh me. Futility, shame, disgrace...pick your descriptive for this one.
So, what did our leaders do? Well, as always, they sent a letter to Federation leaders telling them how important this "effort" was. And, to their credit, they created some exciting Missions to Ethiopia to inspire us. Federation leaders were emotionally overwhelmed by what they saw, what they experienced on these "Completing the Journey Missions." "...it is a dream. A true miracle." They told us: "We have an opportunity today to complete the task of bringing the remaining Falas Mura to Israel and to fulfill the dream of thousands of individuals who want to join us in this historic endeavor."
Oh, they can write; they can emote. Meanwhile, independent of JFNA and the federations, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and the International Fellowship he heads delivered on their promises of $2.5 million -- yes, friends, Rabbi Eckstein and the IFCJ went out and raised the money to which they had committed. You will recall that back in May we wrote about what had morphed from Completing the Journey 1 to Completing the Journey 2 as if this rebranding meant that something old and unaccomplished was new again. On a series of City-size conference calls with CEO's, Silverman and his faithful assistant Paul Kane promised a so-called "fair share allocation" of the effort (even though not one JFNA governance body had ever considered such an allocation) apparently in lieu of fund raising (oh, and the "fair share allocation" would be accompanied by some kind of "fact sheet" way back in May).
Oh, "what are the results," you ask? The Jewish Agency was promised $5.5 million by JFNA's leaders...that's five-point-five million dollars. And, what has JAFI received from JFNA's "extensive" effort after 23 months...after almost two years? Well, shamefully, JAFI has received $107,000...that's ONE HUNDRED SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. In other words, JFNA has raised 2% of what it committed to and the Jewish Agency, having relied on the representations of JFNA, having done its job, having carried out its obligations on our behalf, will be left holding the bag for the other 98%.
So, now, after doing nothing but running some Missions, and running their mouths, and begging the federations for help while offering none, JFNA, without an apology, and certainly without an excuse, never having engaged in what you and I know to be f.u.n.d.r.a.i.s.i.n.g. (shhhh, at JFNA today, that's the "f" word, never to be spoken only bragged about as if they were doing any), JFNA will say: "Now, we're really going after that money." Yes, "now" we're really gonna do it. Yes, two years after the promise, we'll kick the can down the road to Michael and Dede...and, JFNA will no doubt beg New York and Chicago, Baltimore and Cleveland, Miami and anywhere else they can go to send a huge check.
Or, perhaps, Jerry will tell JAFI that he's assigned a senior professional after almost two years of doing essentially nothing to raise the $5.3 million, and, somehow, this pro will have to do so essentially by himself. I see a scapegoat coming. JFNA in action. If there isn't a big sign outside the Executive Suite at 25 Broadway announcing THE BUCK STOPS...THERE, there should be.
Speaking of buck stopping, after the publication of this Post, a significant philanthropist and federation leader wrote to me off-line reminding me that in every major fund raising effort, leadership was expected to and did step forward. In an expression of acharei, leaders led by example. In the time of JFNA itself, Charles Bronfman, Bobby Goldberg and Jim Tisch each stepped forward with their personal commitments as they asked others to join them. For "Completing the Journey," have you heard a thing about the lead gifts from those demanding that others step forward? If you have, let me know.
At JFNA there is, sadly and shamefully, not a scintilla of accountability; no arevut; never an acceptance of responsibility. These so-called "leaders" will seek to explain this all away -- after all, they have been so busy with the Global Planning Table and tag lines and searching out "leakers" and stuff.
Yes, they were too busy to do their jobs, too busy to meet their responsibilities. There's a lot to be ashamed about at 25 Broadway over the last six years, my friends, but this is the worst...the absolute worst.