Wednesday, February 27, 2013


As I write this Post, I am in Jerusalem where everyone with whom I have spoken -- from family members, to academics, to those in the government and political process -- has told me in the most stark terms that Israel's economy is (or soon will be) in crisis. The impacts will fall, as everywhere else, on Israel's most vulnerable, those living near or in poverty in this Land that we love and whose people we cherish as our mishpacha. 

And, I fear that at a time when we most need our national and international  agencies to be laser-focused on our historic obligations to care for those most vulnerable, wherever they may live, I find JFNA distracted and deflected by the machinations of the Global Planning Table and some form of Strategic Directions   that would move us away from those obligations as if they do not even exist. A brief history: when JFNA began 12+ years ago, it did so burdened with the ONAD (you remember, although it best forgotten, "the Overseas Needs and Distribution" process). After a year of in-depth study, ONAD determined under a brilliant Chair, that there should be no change in allocations until such time as allocations to our partners increased and, then, that those increases be appropriately adjusted. I won't bore you with further history other than to note that five years later, after no increases in these allocations, Steve Hoffman and others led the charge to terminate the ONAD process after an overly ambitious ONAD Chair attempted to unilaterally override the ONAD Committee's decision to maintain the allocations for the self-same reasons as were articulated in Year 1 of the "process."

And, here we are once again -- only the times are worse. But we are "here"  without a Steve Hoffman as CEO of JFNA, not even close (although Steve is intimately involved with the GPT), with another overly ambitious Chair of the GPT Steering Committee, and with a CEO who has articulated to many that a failure to approve GPT (one might ask fairly "approve what???") will mean that JFNA will self-destruct (as if, given what has happened with our money, starting over would be a bad thing). 

So, while here I have come to literally feel the social welfare safety net falling apart, at 25 Broadway they are studying ways to divert our allocations from serving vital, basic needs in Israel and elsewhere in the Jewish World where the needs are greatest, to "other things." Why? Because we have told them "go ahead, let's see what you come up with." While we should be saying: "Shut this GPT, this thing, down and now.  

Meanwhile, Nero fiddles while Rome burns....again.



Anonymous said...

And where is JAFI on the needs of the most at risk? Their strategic plan authored by one ubiquitous consultant transforms a once great nation building entity into a Sunday school sermon/travel agency. It is not the GPT alone that needs to get back to people centered basics.

Anonymous said...

Richard, I always thought one of the problems with ONAD was that "A" in ONAD stood for "Assessment" and that the powers that be could never figure out a way to allocate how much each federation "owed" and that federations began going their own way.