Sunday, February 3, 2013


A few days ago, I wrote about the historical implications of the lowest core allocations ever transmitted to our system's historic partners and JFNA's ostrich-like non-response to the fact that on its watch, these allocations have fallen by 52% without apology or peep.

Then I began to focus on the implications of this horrific decline in allocations and I was sickened further. Are we reaching the day when JDC food assistance to Holocaust Survivors in the Former Soviet Union will be denied any of these impoverished elderly? Or will the day soon arise when the Jewish Agency will be forced to come hat in hand directly to the federations or to their donors to rescue the surviving remnant of a long-forgotten Jewish community somewhere in this World of ours in order to bring them home to Israel? Or will World ORT soon have to close training sites in Haiti or Montenegro because ORT's resources have been reduced? 

Friends, I fear that we are well down the path toward each of these horrible possibilities and, yet, not a voice is raised, not a cry is heard. In each instance cited above, we are talking of the work of our federations' partners that they have executed for us -- feeding the most impoverished of our People, bringing those who need rescue home, training even non-Jews -- all of these and more are part of our collective responsibilities. Have we forgotten who we are; have we forgotten what we are about?

Today, the Global Planning Table, operating in the dark corners of our national organization, proposes that the global responsibilities that have always been our collective obligation, be relegated to something called "signature initiatives" -- that they be no more than "electives" -- what were once our sacred obligations relegated to the decisions of a Steering Committee on which none of our historic partners has a voice. Collective responsibility will be redefined by those who have provided no evidence that they no its meaning -- as Orwell wrote with such prescience: "First they steal the words; then they steal their meaning."  And all of us should know full well the implications of this deconstruction of collective responsibility -- when it is gone there will be nothing to distinguish the federations from any other charity...and even the best of us will disappear.

Observing JFNA as I have since its birth has, tragically, been like watching a train wreck in slow motion -- there is a growing sense of calamity. This sense has been accelerated and exacerbated by a Global Planning Table exercise that has been allowed to grow without restraint into something it was never intended to be -- all without regard for the potential consequences. Watching a small group of senior executives constantly being forced to step in to rescue JFNA from itself has become like watching a bunch of jockeys trying to carry their horses over the finish line...or pallbearers hefting a large coffin to its grave. They only have the strength to do it for a while. And now, at long last, they must say "no more."

The following is a Comment received that deserves careful reading and attention:
I am the President of a large Federation.

I believe with all my heart and soul in Federation Giving/Collective Giving/Collective Responsibility.

My Executive shared the GPT toolbox and related materials. I am appalled.

This process is engineered to encourage every Federation to ignore our historic partners and make their own party. Even calling them historic as opposed to our partners says it all. We will be encouraging small programs instead of community strength.

From my perspective, this GPT will simply reduce the real value of Federation in the overseas agenda.

How Michael Segal can sit by and let this happen just because it is perceived by the promoters as their personal legacy is beyond my understanding. Michael may perceive that he is being a mensch (which he is) for not wanting to hurt these people's feelings, but he knows better. Michael: stand up before it is too late.

I have made up my mind. I will be forced to vote with my checkbook. I will complete my term and maintain my gift. But when my term is over and if this GPT goes forward, with tears in my eyes, my family's gift is leaving our Federation's overseas efforts.

We will have our own Family GPT Partnership Committee, thank you very much. 
The tragedy of our times is that no one is listening. It is time for JFNA's new (although not so new any longer) Co-Chairs to take the reins of our national organization and point it once again in the direction of our federations, as it once was and must be once again. JFNA can no longer be the captive of former Chairs and a CEO who appears not to have any understanding of federations -- their present, their history or their future.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think we should all be reduced to tears by what we have permitted to take place on our watch. And, worse appears to be yet to come unless men and women of good will step up.