Tuesday, July 23, 2013


You, our readers, have always demonstrated that you are way ahead of me.

In response to the Post on the General Assembly in Jerusalem, one of you wrote:
"Restore our Relevance said...
A simple suggestion to save not only the GA but Israel -Diaspora relations: Announce that during the GA there will be a gender mixed minyan at the Western Wall fully supported by JFNA, individual federations and any other groups Israeli or Diaspora that will sign on. Validate the leadership of Women of the Wall and show that we walk the walk of inclusivity and gender equality."
We, of course, know that JFNA seeks to establish its relevance in Israel  and has long talked the talk of gender equality while being wholly unable (or unwilling) to walk the walk. Here was a suggestion that, were it implemented, would mean action rather than "letters to the Prime Minister." Let's see if anything happens.

And, often, it is the press -- be it ejewishphilanthropy.com or The Forward or Tablet or others -- which have highlighted issues ignored by our national ostrich  organization. 

So it was with an article in The Forward by Willam Rapfogel on July 12 -- The Ignored Jewish Poor. While citing statistics in New York City evidencing that "half a million American Jews (are) living in poverty," ignoring the reality that in all of our communities there is a "new Jewish poverty" impacting on our People, creating a new underclass, whom, in too many cases, our historic safety net has missed or underserved. Yet, Rapfogel ignored the extent to which the New York UJA-Federation has responded and how quickly -- and, of course, few know the impact Jewish communities have had on this new Jewish poor -- for example, the J-Help actions and fund raising by the Chicago Jewish United Fund of the Federation. 

Those of People who are living in poverty abroad and in Israel have been particularly "ignored." Whether in Kiev or Jerusalem the wealth gap is dramatic and more and more Jews are living below the poverty line -- they are the ones who have been truly ignored by us. They are invisible to us -- the new immigrant Ethiopians, the dying remnant of Holocaust survivors, immigrants from the FSU, and on and on. Our national ostrich  organization sits idly by while things just get worse for more and more of our People, ignoring dropping core allocations to the Joint and JAFI which means that fewer of our People get help, even fewer are served. The attitude seems to be "this is none of our business."

What is "our business" any more? For the federations, at home, direct assistance to the "new Jewish poor" is a paramount purpose. For JFNA, one has to question whether there is even an awareness, except at JFNA-Washington, of the potential creation of a Jewish underclass in America; and at JFNA-Israel, they seem to be constantly busy with self-promotion that truly denigrates our system's potential and its work. 

Wouldn't this "new Jewish poverty" and how we could deal with it be worthy of a day-long conference; be the focal point (not "just another session") at the November GA? Would not the "new Jewish poverty" in our communities and in Israel and abroad be worthy of Special Campaign consideration?

Just asking of course.

And, then, there is JFNA itself. Apparently the Sr. Vice-President for Proofreading was absent the day this beauty of a GA Briefing went out. Intended to encourage more Registrants for the Jerusalem GA, after answering its own question with an emphatic "You can't afford NOT to go," JFNA went on as follows:
"Airfare varies widely, depending on where the flight originates and whether you fly direct. To keep travel costs down, considering flying out of a nearby city and/or changing planes in Europe."
Duh... Now, I don't know who writes this stuff, but I do know that the full Registration fee for this year's GA is $1 less than $700. (And, "that includes several breakfasts and lunches...") Yep, look at the Program on-line and determine for yourself whether "you can't afford NOT to go."



Anonymous said...

The only way to have relevance is to seek a battle to split the Jewish world, what an absurd idea ! Facts are the Orthodox community is the fastest growing. Such an idea will only bring about a boycott of the GA by significant numbers. JFNA should not be a political tool of the liberal movements, it should be connector and find common consensus for the good of the Jewish community.

Anonymous said...

Is what is going on/has gone on at the Western Wall not "splitting the Jewish world?" And, just who is responsible for that? You are no doubt among those who suggest Wexler offer "constructive solutions" -- what re yours for JFNA becoming a "connector (in) finding common consensus for the good of the Jewish community." Let's face it, what you want JFNA to do is just that which it has proved itself to be the best at, nothing.

Anonymous said...

Readers should be reminded of the sham "compromise" on the issue of conversion worked out by Yaacov Neeman whose result was, hoopla aside, that 300,000 of our people in Israel remain in matrimonial limbo. Orthodox Jews should be fully respected and fully engaged in our conversations but not pandered to or given veto over the symbols and practices of other Jews.

Anonymous said...

Richard,do you know what the Dodo Bird is -- an extinct once flightless bird? JFNA is the Dodo bird of Jewish orgs. In further proof, are you aware that JFNA just sent out the "new" criteria for Cabinet membership -- probably generated in response to your Posts.

Anonymous said...

What is going on at the Wall is that a small group is attempting to impose their changes on tradition on others. The liberal movements are overjoyed, finally their cause has risen to the headlines. They are using this as tool to change the religious status quo in Israel.

JFNA should not be tool of either side.

Anonymous said...

1. Can the Conservative and Reform Movements be properly termed a "small group;" and (2)is it not time for the so-called "religious status quo" in Israel to change for the better?

Anonymous said...

Conservative and Reform movements are far from a small group. However Women of the Wall can't muster much more than 150 people once a month after 25 years of trying.