1. Santayana wrote: "Those who can't remember the past are doomed to repeat it." When the chachams at JFNA determined to bring back the failed TribeFestivus for a third time, they ratified Santayana's maxim as they are wont to do. And when I wrote about this ridiculous redo, a FOB with knowledge of the circumstances wrote:
"Two. Million. Dollars. Remarkable. I wonder how much TribeFest New
Orleans will cost? I notice that once again it will take place the
weekend after the 10th annual Jewlicious Festival, which in its 10 year
history hasn't spent $2 million. Talk about scorched earth - kudos
Federation! Please do keep us updated on Festivus developments."
Of course we know by now what happens to those organizations JFNA defines as its "partners" -- be it Jewlicious, the Jewish Agency, the Joint, World ORT, etc., etc., etc. They will be ignored, at best, or emerge from the relationship damaged and diminished. If your organization hears from JFNA that it wants to "partner"...run, fast, the other way. In this case, rather than actually "partner" with Jewlicious, JFNA just stole their concept and attempted to replicate it, scheduling the JFNA "event" so close in time to the Jewlicious event as to compete with it. rather than truly partner for one truly major event, JFNA instead has produced two disasters with no measurable impact beyond the days of the event themselves and now aims for a third.
And, for Festivus 2014 it is said that you can "help design the Program" -- choose from one of 10 (and only 10) program areas, one of which is "Hot Topics." This effort is called a "...search for programming." Uh, huh -- how could I be making this stuff up? Despite the prior failures -- and $2 million down the drain with no one held accountable at 25 Broadway -- JFNA's Senior V-P for Hyperbole, as you have pointed out in your Comments, has mischaracterized Festivus "...as the most anticipated and successful event of its kind in North America." Yes, friends, JFNA's definition of "success" is now failure.
Restarting Festivus for a third time is like shooting yourself in the arm after you had already shot yourself in each foot the first two times. One thing about Mr. Silverman, basically just a "nice guy," he cannot seem to acknowledge any mistakes, it is impossible for him to learn from them, and, therefore, he just keeps demanding that they be repeated. And, then, CEO Jerry whines that JFNA can't operate without more money.
2. It used to be a Mission. Now, the creative geniuses at JFNA have decided that the concept, the word, "Mission" is not user friendly for the so-called "new generation" of North American Jews. Uh, uh, doesn't sell. So, the National Young Leadership has invited young adults of their generation to participate on a "Summer Trip." That's right, a little vacation, like you used to take with your folks. Forgive me, I just vomited in my mouth. "Mission" -- bad word; "fund raising" -- doesn't sell; nope, not what we do.
Here is what you will experience: "YouTube Israeli a capella sensation...2012 Israeli Paralympic gold medalist...Rockin' party with Israeli soldiers...kayak the headwaters of the Jordan...Plus (that's what follows is...a "plus"), get an insider's look at how Jewish Federation...unites and cares for Jews." You want substance? Read the Itinerary; substance can be found right after "pony rides."
So, let's assume you are a young, single Chicago Jew who would love to go to Israel again, having been there on Birthright. You hear about this "Summer Trip." You look at the costs: $3849 for "ground," and $1661 for air -- $5510 for a "Summer Trip." That's real genius, right? Inasmuch as the "newgen" are presumably just starting out in their businesses or professions, spending $5510 on a "Summer Trip" sounds like just the ticket.
Thank G-d that our federations still run Missions, still call them that, still raise money on them, still understand their value and purpose in community-building, in connection-building. Does JFNA even know about these community Missions, is its Israel Office aware of anything other than self-promotion (and keeping CEO Jerry supplied with Coca Cola on his visits) -- Missions so often now arranged by the federations directly with vendors outside of JFNA? Evaluate that.
Oh, and the JFNA "evite" to this Mission asserts that "[T]he trip will include hundreds of people from across North America..." Wanna bet?
3. JFNA in its Virtual Reality. In the midst of the JFNA Board meeting on Monday, while one fantastic fiction after another was presented from the podium, a federation leader I know quite well wrote me: "It's raining cats and dogs outside here in NYC but it's bright and sunny on the planet of
JFNA." Keep smiling. Let's hope the Chairs can see the real as opposed to the fictional,
3. JFNA Board Chair receives a major honor. As CEO Jerry advised us, Board Chair Michael Siegal was named as one of the "Jerusalem Post's 'Fifty Most Influential Jews.'" Well, kal ha'kavod, Michael.
Here is part of what the Post wrote: "A Cleveland-based businessman and philanthropist, Michael D. Siegal, 59, has
since last year chaired the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Federations of North
America, which represents 156 Jewish federations and 300 network communities and
raises some $3 billion annually for social welfare, social services and
education. In November, he is set to host some 2,500 American Jewish leaders at
the JFNA’s General Assembly in Jerusalem." While this resonates, if "2,500 American Jewish leaders" show up in Jerusalem for the GA, Michael will surely deserve to move up from No. 42 to the top 10!! And, if JFNA (not the federations, of course, JFNA) "...raises $3 billion annually" -- if JFNA raised even $3 million -- then, gam ken.
In a great movie scene, the protagonist is urged to "earn it" -- to "earn" the "honor" he has been given. I would urge Michael to "earn it" starting now.
Friends, JFNA has succeeded over the past 6+ years in making itself irrelevant to its Owners/Members who are tied to the national organization by only the threat to take away their Lions, their Cabinet members...by dint of these threats, JFNA continues in stasis.
In the words of George S. Kaufman: "Ahhh...forgotten but not gone."