Wednesday, June 26, 2013


1. Post-script to the Kohane affair. One of the best and brightest federation CEOs wrote me off-line and observed:

"Just one private comment on the Kohane affair…nowhere have we focused on the handful of communities that really are doing good work on both fronts—young adults and those 40+. In addition to failing on collective responsibility and advocacy, JFNA has no sense of how to effectively share best practices, amazing considering all the communication outlets that exist these days. 

Although I believe that the SF Fed had the perfect right to discharge Ms. Kohane, a valuable teaching moment was lost. The alternative would have been for Ms. Gorovitz (the San Francisco Federation CEO who terminated Ms. Kohane) to publicly state the policy, allow Ms.Kohane to acknowledge and apologize for her error, and then move on to focus on the real challenges of Jewish engagement and prove to a large segment of skeptics of Jewish organizational life that dissent tempered with compassion really has a place in our work."
 I agree with my friend and with the Brooklyn Rabbi who said: "Michal was fired for saying what most Jewish professionals I know believe to be true. And even if one were to disagree with Michal (which I do not) dissent is a Torah value."

Could this moment be a turning point for our crumbling system; imploding as never before? While I doubt it, let's see.

2. The Chicago Blackhawks and JFNA. Huh? You may ask; how will you, Wexler, conjure up any analogy between the newly crowned Stanley Cup champions of the National Hockey League and the pathetic JFNA? Let's see if you agree that there is one. Eight years ago, the Chicago Blackhawks, in a national poll, were voted the worst franchise in sports -- not just in hockey, but the worst in all sports. And, then, management and operations changed completely, a new forward-thinking culture emerged, and personnel were dramatically altered, and within four years, the team won its first Stanley Cup since 1961 and three seasons later it is on the cusp of a dynasty. 

And so it is that JFNA today is at the bottom of the barrel. JFNA is in need of massive changes, starting at the the top. As with the Blackhawks of less than a decade ago, it's long past time for major change, for a new culture of inclusion, for a vision that incorporates the best of practices. and for a set of strategies that are about federations not about JFNA. Let's face it, there has been not a single piece of evidence that the current CEO can deliver a "new JFNA." 



Anonymous said...

Unfortunately there is a problem with the analogy. The Blackhawks did not a bunch of "owners" who are secure in their own positions to the extent that it was not in their best interest to keep the status quo. The Blackhawks also did not have volunteer directors who needed to be "fired" as well in order to bring about the changes needed at JFNA.

RWEX said...


Anonymous said...

There is a case to be made for the federation system and their is an equally valid case to be made for free and open debate. JFNA should be doing both and is creating a vacuum by doing neither. At the same time its illustrious tennant JCSA remains clueless as it prepares to nominate the next in line CEO for its prestigious Mandelkorn Award. Those who knew Ben know that would not have been his style. We are midgets teetering on the shoulders of giants.

Anonymous said...

Sure, "dissent is a Torah value," except in the federations and at JFNA where dissent is treason

Anonymous said...

Federations tolerate a certain level of dissent particularly on an abstract level. What they do not tolerate is truth telling: To get ahead, to stay in the game, be you professional or lay, you need to tell people what they want to hear not what you think they should know and hear.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous above says, "Sure, "dissent is a Torah value," except in the federations and at JFNA where dissent is treason."

No truer words have ever been spoken.

All rise and give homage to Silverman, Ruskay, Hoffman and Nasatir. The kings who broker absolutely no dissent!