Saturday, August 10, 2013


1. After my expressions of concern for the steady deterioration of purpose, status and direction of the JFNA Young Leadership Cabinet, the Board Chair published a "Blue Ribbon-like Committee" Report that ratified the Cabinet as is/where is as just about perfect. (And, BTW, what would be wrong with "disclosing" just whom were consulted?)  It's great, doing great, yada yada yada. JFNA in microcosm. One could only have hoped that this retrospection would have begun with the question: "What do we, JFNA and the federations, and the Cabinet membership want JFNA to be?" And, then, "how do we get there?" But. nope. Instead our leaders used the same coats of white wash they use for themselves.

2. We have had a good debate on these pages with regard to the role of the Rabbinate in Israel that began with an Anonymous Commentator's suggestion that the GA join those women who are struggling for equal status at the Western Wall. Some have suggested that JFNA not "disrupt the status quo" by allowing the GA to be "used" by activists for religious and gender equality. Respectfully, by doing nothing, doesn't JFNA thereby become an advocate for a "status quo" that the vast majority of its membership opposes? JFNA has already proved that it is best at doing nothing; time for a change?

3. I have written about this before, but a recent recurrence causes me to "re-muse": When you receive an email that requires a response do you find it difficult or even hit the "Reply" icon rather than the "Reply All" one? A couple of weeks ago, about 60 of us received an invite to a conference call meeting of the Jewish Agency FRD Committee. One person...that's ONE...a generous philanthropist found it necessary for all 60 os us to know that she can't participate because she and her family will be in Israel. I probably wouldn't make a bigger deal of this than it is except that this is an every time occurrence for this leader. And, quite honestly, I don't care what she is doing, planning; could she just learn the difference (as most have) between "Reply" and "Reply All?" It's pretty easy. (P.S. The conference call meeting was canceled...too many couldn't participate!!!)

4. When I wrote about the waste of time and energy in a discussion of changing the membership in City-size groupings that Anti-Governance, a number of you offered factual insights about the history of "mis-labeling" that remains uncured because "feelings might be hurt" by doing so. I was reminded by your Comments of what happened back in the early to mid-oughts. JFNA was engaged in the Emerging Communities effort (an actually productive engagement with high potential federations). One of those federations was experiencing explosive population and campaign growth to the point of clear eligibility for Large Intermediate Federation status. I tried to intervene on its behalf but was put off by JFNA's inactivity, rationalized after months of put-offs, that if that community were moved up, others should be moved around as well and that action was "in process." It is now 8 years and two communal CEOs after that initial request...and nothing has happened. Is JFNA great or what? 

5. In the July 29 edition of The New Yorker, a cartoon shows an office worker walking down a corridor with a box (we might call it a "Suggestion Box") mounted on the wall -- a box labeled "Career Suicide." That's exactly the price too often paid for suggestions within a system totally intolerant of them. My best professional partner in Jewish life warned me from the beginning of this Blog that it would be a "reputation killer" -- and to many it has been. If that's the price for outing incompetence, waste, duplicity, arrogance, vendettas and more waste, it's a shame, but such is the state of our system today. Worse, factual criticism is so often characterized as "in personam attacks" so as to dismiss, rather than respond to them. The very reason that I have welcomed Anonymous Comments to the Posts appearing here is that I fully understood that criticism is no longer tolerated in a system more and more closed off from outside ideas as well as free and open debate. 

More's the pity but that's the way it is in Lake Woebegon.



Anonymous said...

I sympathize with your frustration over "Reply All". But if the philanthropist in question never learns how to use "Reply" but continues to be as generous as she is, I will gladly use my "Delete" button while being very thankful that she continues to be so engaged.

RWEX said...

To Michael Siegal and Dede Feinberg: Great changes to the GA Calendar which will now include a "twilight vigil," and expression of unity, at the Kotel

Anonymous said...

Don't feel badly, Richard, when those CEOs who you think are "running" JFNA (oh, by the way, they are) offers any criticism, the CEO literally rages about them -- probably worse than he does about you -- because you can be ignored.