- Completing the Journey. In early 2012 or late in 2011, I can't remember anymore, the then Chairs and the current CEO did what they usually did when funding of a special need is required: They sent a letter to the federations seeking $5 million as the system's obligation to finish the aliyah from Ethiopia. Then, as they always do, they waited for the checks to come in -- and a few did. But, not much. Did JFNA's leaders visit the federations and plead, pound the table, mobilize its lay leaders? No, they ran some Missions to Ethiopia, magnificent, emotional and meaningful -- chaired by, among others, the National Campaign Chair. Fund raising...come on. JFNA raised and transmitted $938,000 of a $5 million commitment...a commitment that used to mean something. By mid-2013, JFNA realized it was in trouble (duh!!), and it turned up the pressure -- the New York UJA-Federation pledged $1.1 million (+/-) and the Jewish Agency reduced the total need to $3 million (not that the costs diminished, oh, no, just that JFNA told the Agency it would raise only $3 million; JAFI would have to absorb the balance). And, JFNA sent out another letter as is its wont; and raised and transmitted another $40,000 -- yes, that's a whole $40,000. So, against an ask of $5 million, JFNA "raised" all of $978,000, New York UJA another $1,168,000 and JAFI has received $1,813,00. I'm waiting for the boxes of documents and conference calls to explain to you how this "Journey" got "Completed."
- The Negev. On March 18, in a lengthy Leadership Briefing, JFNA announced that its Negev Funding Coalition Appoints New Chair. The Briefing was, in the main, a means of thanking past and welcoming current leadership to the Coalition, listing the participating federations and announcing the "second funding cycle for two minor programs -- the sum total of all this effort; all these federations, all these leaders. Yet, there are those of us who remember when the focus on the Negev began as a joint venture among the Government of Israel, the federations and the Jewish Agency. We knew this would be an incredible opportunity requiring an investment of $100s of millions of dollars -- two priority regions were identified with the Government of Israel...and, now, these baby steps are the result? What a shame; what a travesty; what a disgrace. Within the GOI, JFNA has to be nothing more than a "joke of the day." As one who was engaged in this "process" from the beginning has observed: there is "...no institutional memory, no obligation to fulfill commitments, and no continuity of leadership." But, it's so much worse than all of those -- it is a history of promises made, promises broken. Follow the cups and that little pea.
- Ibim. Then there is Ibim -- the major Absorption Center and Youth Village for the Falashmura. The beautiful place where the "Journey" continues in the mainstreaming of the Ethiopian Israeli population. At one time a Western Region federation was the named partner in the funding of Ibim: signs of thanks were erected celebrating the partnership and JFNA, for a time, worked hard to assure that the community's support would not merely continue but grow. But, in the need to pursue new shiny objects, JFNA dropped its advocacy for Ibim and that community -- the partner forever -- dropped its support -- leaving only the signs celebrating the "partnership." Where did this leave Ibim -- well JFNA was "selling" again -- no doubt another letter went out. It made one of its "commitments" (this means something else in JFNA-speak, of course) to JAFI (see 1. above) for $1.1 million -- so far JFNA has paid $520,000.