Monday, April 1, 2013


Picture, if you will,  an oval race track on which three cars are whipping around -- one called JFNA, another, the Global Planning Table and a third, the federations. No one was present when the race started and no one can possibly determine which car is in front, which is second and which one trails the other two. And, all the cars do is race around this oval, never stopping and never getting anywhere.

In the meantime the world outside of the racing oval has changed. First, federations and their donors are responding to a variety of markets -- and, quite clearly, federation allocations are now market-driven. As one of the best and brightest federation CEOs recently wrote to me: "...why do we believe we can force outcomes when people (our donors and leaders) have no interest in the outcomes some seem to want?" But the whirling dervish that is JFNA and the unending exercise in futility that is JFNA catapult around the track, oblivious to the "wants and desires" of federation owners and their donors.

Then, while JFNA is merely driving aimlessly, lost in the revelry of its own voice as dictated by a Past Board Chair, endorsed by the sycophants and those in fear ("do you want to be the one to bring down JFNA?"), chasing its tail (or are the GPT and the federations chasing...) into the void in financial resource development that JFNA has created and its predecessor organization once filled, are organizations dedicated to what they characterize as "entrepreneurial philanthropy" such as the incredibly successful and growing Center for Entrepreneurial Jewish Philanthropy or, if you will, the Jewish National Fund -- both have dramatically, brilliantly and creatively stepped into the void created, in largest measure, by the intentional ignorance at 25 Broadway of its own responsibilities.

It still need not be this way. But that will take an enlightened lay leadership that is willing to take charge. It requires an understanding that they weren't elected to merely serve as an echo chamber for others but, rather, to act on our collective behalf to halt the on-going insanity. Because, from up here in the cheap seats, it sure looks like those three cars are careening toward a catastrophic crash.

Friends, catastrophe is what happens when institutional memory has been wiped away -- all those lay and professional leaders who had it have been slow- or fast-walked away, though some stand on the periphery, outside of any process. Yes, this is what happens when for  the last 6+ years our national organization has been driven further and further still from its core values and timeless principles in the name of a "game change" that has never happened and never could.

And this is no "April Fools Day" just a bunch of leaders being played for fools.



Anonymous said...

You've captured it perfectly. We permit a Ship of Fools to carry us from one disaster to another.

Anonymous said...

Since the Jim Joseph foundation spent 200K to learn that teens use the Internet perhaps they can fund a study for JFNA on why JFNA gets no respect.

Anonymous said...

And the federation owners that allow JFNA to self-destruct? Shame on them. Shame on their CEO's and key donors.

Anonymous said...

JFNA is a cruel April Fools joke...but the joke is on us, all of us