Saturday, September 28, 2013


In a conversation with a bright and creative communal professional, we turned to the topic of why the system seems to ignore the opportunities represented by those in their mid-30s and 40s un- or minimally-connected with us. The topic immediately turned my thoughts to Chicago's Nachshon Mission program. As you read what follows understand that I and those responsible for the program itself have urged what passes for FRD at JFNA to incorporate Nachshon into JFNA -- and we have been met with "we'll get back to you" or less...and nothing happens.

"Nachson," Torah taught us, was Aaron's brother-in-law, who, according to the Midrash. He was the catalyst for the parting of the Red Sea by walking into the waters over his head until the Sea parted. In Yiddish "to be a Nachshon" is to be a "catalyst." And that is exactly what was created in Chicago. Uniquely, Nachshon was the brainstorm of a group of (then) young Chicago Federation activists and fund raising leaders. Led by men like Skip Schrayer and others, they, who had found inspiration for all that they were doing from the Israel experience believed that they could motivate a generation of high potential donors to engage with Federation in all of its work the catalyst being a one-week Mission to Israel. They reached out to a group of their friends -- at the beginning all men -- and working in concentric circles, expanded the arc of engagement.

The results were and continue to be incredible -- six figure gifts were and are not unusual, friends brought friends. From one annual Mission grew another and the results compounded. The successes are now over a decade long or longer. The participants have risen through our federation leadership to Chairs of the Annual Campaign, to Federation Board Chairs and Committee Chairs who have absorbed, through their travels together and their exposure to their contemporaries who having already absorbed into their kishkas the core values and timeless principles that have made the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago among the strongest and few expressing collective responsibility in all of our work.

So, my friends, Chicago leaders have exposed Nachshon to national leadership to the point of frustration. Silverman has heard about it (initially from me, which may be the problem), a series of National Chairs have been familiar with it -- I have spoken to three of them personally. AND NOTHING HAS HAPPENED. This could be a home run at a cost far less than, as a bad, a terrible comparison, another TribeFest. It makes one believe that JFNA either doesn't understand, lacks the energy or, even, the lay leaders capable of pulling it off. (After all, the leaders of this effort have to be at the 30-45 year age cohort; they can't be at the age level of, e.g., a Paul Kane [I know, Paul is gone...but he is, as I am, at an age that would be told, we do not, cannot relate]).

If done right, this could be a win-win for JFNA and the federations. Based on history there are two questions: 1) why haven't they done it already; and 2) can they do it now?


Wednesday, September 25, 2013


What follows is CEO Jerry's New Year Message. Many of you who forwarded it on to me were astonished that none of these reflections on 5773 just passed referenced a JFNA accomplishment. They wondered why. I don't.

Here it is:
The years seem to be moving rapidly. Before the blink of an eye, we arrive at the eve of Rosh Hashanah. As we lament how the chagim disrupt September, with three weeks of two- and three-day work weeks, we also take time to reflect. We celebrate who we are as individuals, as families, and as a people.   
This past year brought many challenges: Challenges as parents, issues we face at the workplace and even major disasters. I ask, how did we respond?  What did we accomplish? What mistakes did I make? What have we learned? 
          I think back to the Jewish Agency meetings in Israel in November, 2012, when       Hurricane Sandy hit. We saw the immediate, overwhelming response of UJA Federation of New York, along with the Federations in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rockland County, N.Y. to a wide range of local needs. The Federations’ impact, with their network of agencies and volunteers, continues even today. The disaster also shut down our own offices and systems 10 days before the GA, though thanks to our dedicated staff we worked through it.
Then, only hours after an inspiring GA in Baltimore, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense amid rockets raining down on southern Israel.  Within hours the Jewish Agency and the JDC were assessing the needs and working closely with our Israel office. Within 24 hours Federations committed to $5 million in humanitarian support. Within 72 hours, JFNA Chair Michael Siegal was on the ground in Israel, leading a solidarity mission representing our Federations from Boston to Birmingham to Los Angeles. 
 We not only met pressing challenges of the moment, but we were reminded of how Jewish Federations, every day, are building the Jewish future. This summer on the Campaign Chairs and Directors mission with leaders of campaign, National Women’s Philanthropy and Young Leadership Cabinet, we met young people in Minsk whose Jewish identities were inspired by summer camps Federations helped make possible. In Israel, we spent an evening in the hills outside of Jerusalem with Birthright participants, singing and celebrating being in our Jewish homeland.
This past year only reinforced for me how privileged I am to work every day for the Jewish People. As communities, united together, we accomplish incredible things. May this year bring us from strength to strength, and bring health, sweetness and joy.
Shana Tovah,
"What have we learned," indeed? 

Not much.


PS Do we truly "lament" the "disruption" to our calendars caused by the High Holy Days, Sukkot...? Give us a break.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


When I read the book, now on that rack of tomes that are in "final close-out," political analyst Roger Simon's Road Show: In America Anyone Can Become President, It's One of the Risks We Take, I was struck by how the title could easily apply to JFNA. For in Jerry Silverman, by all reports in public a really nice guy, our leaders at the time of his engagement proved the Simon book's title could just as easily apply to our Continental organization.

I mean, really, is there another organization out there that would have based its Search Committee's choice on what was reported to me 4 years ago by many as a "fantastic interview," the endorsement by a Chair whose thimble-like knowledge of federations' work was barely greater than the candidate's (but who rejected the thought of "just another CEO" and who wanted a "fresh face" whose every act she could and would influence); and a "go along to get along Committee" that included so very many who should have and could have known better. 

None of the members of the Search Committee questioned the incoming Chair's choice -- many thereby endorsed a process followed elsewhere -- ask no questions, rely on the Chair's "judgment" and the "integrity" of a non-existent "process" (as at the JFNA Budget and Finance Committee as well as others). So what did we get: an apparently amiable and, at the outset, humble (no longer) guy whose exposure to our federation system and its unique language language was never questioned. And, the results are in -- in fact they were in quite a while ago.

I wish it were otherwise, but for Jerry Silverman to have succeeded he would have had to stand up to a kleptocrat Chair who was determined to have her way in all things -- from the continued deconstruction of the historic relationships with JAFI and the Joint, to the dogged pursuit of the incoherent Global Planning Table. Instead he encouraged her because, at least in my view, he knew of her support for him (so long as he left her alone) and nothing else mattered. Instead of asking those who might have mentored him how to handle an out of control Chair, he chose silence, exactly what the Board Chair demanded. There was no lay-professional partnership of the Board Chair and the CEO -- there was a dictatorship pure and simple and the interests of the federations were lost and remain lost in the resulting quagmire even as new Co_Chairs try to dig out..

When federation CEOs, out of a sense of professional courtesy, have advised Jerry of, e.g., a hardship that precludes paying full Dues or an inability to participate in funding some poorly articulated Continental "Significant something-or-other" or to attend the GA because of cost, or that the GPT has  no traction in their community, among so many, many other things, instead of trying to understand the "why," the response has more typically been "you'll be sorry." Why? I would assume that it's because the CEO of our national organization, paid in excess of $650,000 (!) per year, really doesn't understand, never understood, or G-d forbid, can't understand the issues federations confront today.

The reality is that Kathy Manning is not to blame for her choice and Jerry Silverman is not to blame for believing he could execute the most difficult job in Jewish communal life -- keeping 155 federation CEOs "happy" and informed -- the fault is in the members of the Search Committee who appear to have believed that their roles were strictly ceremonial -- merely to ratify the Board Chair's choice in all things. Theirs was not to question qualifications, but merely to nod, be awakened from their slumber to vote "aye" and to congratulate the Board Chair (and themselves) for "a job well done" and "a great choice." And, as always, these were men and women who were considered, and actually were, the best and brightest of their generation. Shame on them; shame on us.

Friends, we can do better; we can be better.


Thursday, September 19, 2013


This Post is about failure.

Those of you who read this Blog with any regularity know of my sense that the "National Agencies Alliance," created to, among other things, (a) bring more federations into the national funding system, and (b) create more revenue for qualifying national agencies, has accomplished neither goal. But, behind all the "planning" and "replanning" the Alliance has undertaken in lieu of meeting the goals established for it, there rested an unstated motive -- in execution to do exactly the opposite of that with which it had been charged. And, in so doing, JFNA has been uniquely "successful," if "success" is the rebranding of "failure."

Now, following the collapse of JESNA, comes the decision by the Foundation for Culture's Board to shut down.

When asked to explain this decision, official JFNA 'splainer, Joe Berkofsky, told the JTA:
“Jewish arts and culture might fit into those strategic areas, but there are shifting priorities,” Berkofsky said. “The agency is really evaluating organizations and allocating based on their alignment with strategic directions.”
This, after the JFNA 'splainer in chief noted that the "focus" of the "agency" (??) is now on families and children -- does this mean that JCPA is now at risk as well or, perhaps, JTA?  (I did not expect a true investigative report from JTA inasmuch as JTA does receive "full" funding through the Alliance, few questions asked.) The "explanations" are as ridiculous as the decisions.

Earlier this year, the leadership of JESNA, one of the Alliance's most-favored agencies, recommended for full funding year-in and year-out (including this year, the year of its collapse), voted to put itself out of business. At the other end of the funding spectrum, the (National) Foundation for Jewish Culture, one of the founding national agencies in the Alliance, and recently treated as an after-thought, its annual allocation from the Alliance's national funding pool reduced over time from about $700,000 to $180,000" voted to cease operations in 2014, eliminating an umbrella organization for the arts and culture.

These national agencies -- JESNA and the Foundation for Jewish Culture -- were created by the federation system. The Alliance was created to better sustain and nurture those agencies which the federations created; instead, few, if any, JFNA lay leaders know (or seemingly care) about their plight. Though JFNA did place the Alliance Chairs on its Executive Committee, there they sit silent (but for a periodic report) as one national agency after another now falls by the wayside. While JESNA was burning dollars at a rate it could not responsibly sustain, where was the Alliance professional staff? Looking the other way? Too busy with other things -- maybe another strategic plan (or an examination of anti-semitism in Hungary)? Or actually trying to help JESNA find stability? 

And this circumstance -- one that has seen two national agencies created by our system literally abandoned by that same system -- is not about the need for these agencies. Both JESNA and the FJC were continuing to play vital roles in Jewish education, culture and the creative arts. When some of us were on the leadership track at UJA and CJF, our first national Board service was on those Boards (or HIAS or the NCSJ or JTA, or other "agency members" of the Alliance whose funding has been slashed). JFNA has chosen to ignore the chance to populate these organizations' Board, focusing instead on the kind of party exercises  embodied in the waste that is, e.g., Festivus, offering the national agencies nothing more than benign neglect, lip service or constant deprecation depending on the agency, casting them off one at a time, to independent fund raising (which the national funding organizations dating back to the days of CJF were designed to make unnecessary), of which these organizations have proved, at no small expense, to be basically incapable, or to die a slow death of continental organizational asphyxiation.

You might ask why the Alliance continued to fully fund JESNA while that agency was in continued cascading financial distress -- where were the Alliance professionals and lay leadership? Wasn't/isn't one of the prime functions of the Alliance to conduct an annual evaluation of each agency including its financials in detail? Oh, that!!

And it seems fair to ask why, while the national funding pool was in free fall and federations were withdrawing support, those same Alliance professionals and lay leaders were inviting two fine organizations albeit both of which were engaged in competitive fund raising within the federations to join the Alliance, further threatening the already diminished allocations to the system's own national agencies. But, no one at one...seemed to care a whit about what was going on.

The reaction from our organizations was nothing more than a yawn, a "more for us," an ignorance of the implications of losing valued partners, a supercilious response that says so much more about how much less we are as a Continental Jewish polity today than we were at the birth of JFNA. The national agencies are already diminished, the Alliance a dismal failure; and, if the leaders of the Global Planning Table have their way, the fate of our system's national agencies will merely be the appetizer for the main course -- the deconstruction of our core allocations to our system's historic partners, the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee.

Yes, this is not the failure of two agencies alone, it is not the demise of just two agencies, more will follow. And JFNA will neither shed a tear nor accept any responsibility. Ours is a Continental organization that no longer understands its roles and is allowed to behave as if it does not have to. Meanwhile, the millions wasted on, e.g., three TribeFests, that might have been a responsible continental investment in Jewish culture, in Jewish education, in advocacy, in recasting the system's national agencies to best serve the federations' needs and wants -- but..."we don't do that."

I think we all know where responsibility for "failure" rests.


Friday, September 13, 2013


A shana tovah tikateivu to each of you and your families. It is appropriate to the New Year for each of us to engage in both t'shuva and introspection.

As I sat in the endodontist's chair a few days ago contemplating the pain as I endured a root canal, I thought to myself "this is a real JFNA kind of day." Unlike the root canal, for JFNA it just doesn't have to be this is seemingly day in and day out. And I, like you, am sickened by it.

Some readers (and, especially some who claim not to be) have suggested that I am just "too angry" and that I have let anger color the impressions that I have expressed on these pages. In absolute candor I have to tell all of you that I have been angered, truly angered, only once in the 4 or 5 years that I have been writing about JFNA -- and that was anger over the episode in which I was accused of lying (or, in the words of one critic of mine -- "scamming") about Kathy Manning's public insistence that the term "Zionism" be exorcised from a JFNA draft document as "too controversial." That anger was with the false denials -- for Manning ultimately apologized to those that she had publicly accused of "making it up," of "lying" -- that is, she apologized to everyone but me...and, maybe, to those in my own federation to whom she had expressed her anger and denial. (I don't know if to this date her CEO, and, emphasis on her, has apologized to anyone for his misrepresentations during that brief period.) Other than that incident, which, obviously, sticks in my craw, what I have expressed on these pages has been my frustration and disappointment that after so many years post-merger JFNA finds itself more distant from the goals the federations had set for it way back when -- more distant than ever before.

I am saddened and frustrated by lay leaders who believe their first and only obligation is to the transient lay leader who is sitting in the Chair and fail to think once let alone twice about the organization itself; I am saddened and frustrated all the more by those Federation CEOs who know better and who had helped to build an incredible system and inspired a movement and now sit on their hands as that which they love and had built is being deconstructed brick by brick while they sit by waiting for the call to "save us from ourselves" once again. It's way past time, friends, way, way past time.

I am one who loved the institutions of Jewish communal life. I have served many of them and have been privileged to lead a few. I have served in the shadows of and hand in hand with some of the greatest of lay and professional leaders locally, nationally and internationally and I have learned from each of them. My own community taught me the lessons to be learned from both sides of the lay/professional partnership and the core values and timeless principles upon which our instruments have always been built. And those who came before me taught me the real meaning of collective responsibility, that which distinguishes our institutions from all other charities. And watched great leaders -- the Corky Goodmans and Shoshana Cardins, the Max Fishers and the Albert Ratners, the Marvin Lenders and the Milton Wolfs -- those who never shied away from speaking truth to power, and who never shut their eyes to what was happening around them.

When I chaired the Operation Exodus Campaign at its climax, I saw once again the great good that we do first-hand, and to have gone from the darkened hallways of the apartments of Refuseniks to the great Washington Rally to the celebration of freedom that was the Exodus, our Chapter in Modern Jewish History, I felt that our system was ready for the merger that produced JFNA. I, too, believed in that which Max and Corky told us in the "Fisher Suite" of the King David Hotel on that late night so long ago, "it's time to trust the federations." So I took the time to co-lead the effort that produced the merger -- working side-by-side with the brilliant Jeffrey Solomon, the incredible Lee Twersky, and a wonderful group of lay leaders and the best federation CEOs in the creation of a structure, a Vision and a Mission that we handed over and which I have watched brutalized by both failed leadership and a refusal by those selfsame federations we had determined to trust to take any responsibility for the waste and incompetence which they plainly see and which, by their silence, they encourage. 

The result is what we have today. An organization that we have allowed to become about itself; one that has wasted much of the over $650,000,000 it has been allocated as Dues -- our donors' hard-earned dollars. A "forensic audit" of JFNA will never happen because it would disclose the waste (e.g., an Israel Office with 27, count 'em, employees) and lack of purpose of today's iteration of our national organization.  

So, consider this Blog, if you will, the periodic "forensic audit" of JFNA. Until something really changes. Then, and only then, will it be time to write "enough."


Monday, September 9, 2013


The leaders of JFNA seem particularly proud of the creation and implementation of "Fundraising University" -- which held its first of a year-long program in New York City the week of August 4. While I find irony in the fact that JFNA, which so abandoned FRD some years back that it (a) placed it as a subsidiary of Community Consulting; (b) rebranded it as "Philanthropic Resources," a national organization is clearly the only institution that can lead this effort; and (c) reduced the role of the National Campaign Chair to cheerleader (not that cheerleading isn't part of the job).  When I first congratulated JFNA on taking this idea first framed and implemented by the national United Jewish Appeal two decades ago, I received numerous phone calls, anonymous Blog Comments and e-mails suggesting that I take a closer look. I have done so and, while I find the "University" as implemented in so-called "beta" form to be a mixed bag, my conclusion is that it's a badly needed reset of JFNA engagement with fundraising and fundraisers -- and that's a good thing.

Let's take a look at the positives and negatives, some obvious questions and, then, some suggestions:

  • There were only 19 participants. Most of the federation CEO criticisms that I heard related to the reality that they suggested the "best and brightest," the "superstars" of their professional FRD cadre at the behest of JFNA, only to have them rejected -- "no room," "maybe next time," and "so sorry." Huh?? At the outset, is this University to be so elitist that a larger number of those recommended are rejected than those accepted? And, why? If this program is to have value, it should be about inclusivity. I'm told this year's session is a "beta-test" for a major roll-out in the sense is there is no time like the present.
  • Whoever is responsible for planning the University did something unusual for the organization -- instead of reaching out to its current cadre of those who know little about Federation FRD, JFNA reached out to federation CEOs, and many well-regarded thought leaders inside or outside the system as "faculty." 
  • The "curriculum" focus on "Major/Mega Gifts Management" is confusing to many. In New York a Major Gift might be $25,000, in Chicago, $50,000, in, e.g., Tampa, $10,000 and in most communities it's $2500 to $5,000. Thus, the Program Outline suggests that a significant portion of the "curriculum" will be irrelevant to a significant number of the participants and would be to even more.
  • Sections of the Program offer excellence and promise: "Presentation Skills Training," "How Jewish Values Drive our Work," "Focus on the Volunteer - A Dialogue with Philanthropists" -- all will offer much to the 19 selected participants.
Fundraising University could make a real impact; JFNA deserves congrats for initiating it. It needs a broader focus -- there is nothing offered on prospecting, on event planning (including the pluses and minuses of sponsorships), on building and working with a lay leadership team, and much more -- but that will come, I am certain when JFNA brings in a Senior VP - Development who knows, understands and can work with her/his federation colleagues. If Fundraising U. just becomes an excuse for a consulting contract for the recently retired, then shame on JFNA's leaders...and, as


Friday, September 6, 2013


Let's imagine you are one of countless Federation CEOs and the few lay persons who travel to NYC with the hope that JFNA professional leaders are will be listening and understanding what you have to say. And, you are increasingly frustrated because...

  • You and most of your colleagues reject the Global Planning Table as it is being implemented; you have been communicating your objections in private and in confidence at meeting-after-meeting and you have come to believe that your and your colleagues' concerns aren't even reaching those further up the food chain or they could care less;
  • You have been asked to "consult" on matters pending before JFNA. You have spent either your good money or, in the case of CEOs, your communal dollars to come to 25 Broadway for multiple meetings. You learn that you and other leaders have been totally ignored in a "final report" that reads as if you and your federation colleagues have been totally ignored; or
  • You and your colleagues have pled with JFNA leaders not to hold this November's GA in Jerusalem -- not because you don't want to be there, it's where you desperately want to be. The costs have become prohibitive and are a bar to participation, etc. But, you and your colleagues have been totally ignored. When you advise JFNA that you or your communal leaders can't be there this November, there is no introspection on JFNA's part, those with whom you speak are just angry with you and your community.
How do you know you will be ignored, among the ways:
  • When you see the JFNA "leaders" with whom you hoped were listening looking over your shoulder for someone else to talk to;
  • On those ubiquitous whiteboards, JFNA staff doesn't even write down your ideas (or, they do, but you see them erasing your thoughts off the board even before you leave the meeting room);
  • When you enter the meeting room for the meeting after the one at which you offered thoughts other than JFNA's accepted wisdom, you find that there is no chair for you;
  • You grab a Report before a meeting called to "discuss your thoughts" and it bears the imprint "Final Report"
JFNA -- we don't want your ideas, just your Dues and your vote. Many thanks.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013


The following greeting arrived this past Monday from Natan Sharansky. I wanted to share with you what one of our historic partners has been doing for our People, on our behalf, while we have been cutting its funding drastically without any advocacy from our Continental organization.
Dear Friends,

As the eve of Rosh Hashanah is upon us, it is a good time to thank you for your partnership and your steadfast commitment to the remarkable work we do together.

The importance of our work is evident everywhere you look.

Last week, we completed our historic mission of bringing Ethiopian Jewry—for many years a lost tribe—home to Israel.  Upon shutting down our compound in Gondar, arguably the most ancient Jewish community in the world, we handed the school over to the local authorities as an expression of our gratitude.

During our Board of Governors meetings in Kiev, we saw in action how The Jewish Agency is bringing another lost tribe home – to their Jewishness and to the Jewish people.

In France, our intensive efforts to bring young people on Israel experience programs and to connect the community to our homeland are bearing fruit in ever-increasing Aliyah numbers.

In North America, the number of Israel Fellows placed on college campuses has reached a record of 69, bringing Israel to tens of thousands of Jewish students across the continent.

Project TEN, our new global Tikkun Olam program, is enabling young Jews from Israel and around the world to engage in meaningful service at four locations around the globe—in Kiryat Shemonah, Israel; Gondar, Ethiopia; Hyderabad, India; and Oaxaca, Mexico—soon to be joined by a fifth, at Kibbutz Harduf in Israel's North.

And our Fund for the Victims of Terror continues to provide vital, immediate assistance to those affected by rocket attacks and other violence, ready to come to Israeli families' aid when they need it most.

This crucial work has positioned us as the key partner of the Government of Israel and, as you know, we are now embarking on the formation of a groundbreaking new joint initiative that will enable us to dramatically expand our activities and touch more lives than ever before.  I look forward to sharing more information about this effort as it develops.

Again, thank you for your dedication to our joint work and permit me to express my hope and conviction that we will continue going from strength to strength over the coming year and well beyond.

Shana Tova,

Natan Sharansky
A similar message of achievement no doubt flowed from Alan Gill to the JDC constituency. 

May someday the then leaders of JFNA be able to send all of us a message of its achievements with our funds.

Shana tovah once again,


Tuesday, September 3, 2013


I cannot tell you how many federation leaders sent me the following message we received from JFNA. Their characterization of JFNA's message and judgment ranged from "unreal" to "disgusting," from "ridiculous" to "these people need to be retired now" and echoed my own. For those of you who had not seen what follows, I assure you that I am not making this up:
"What better resolution could there be, than to join us in New Orleans for TribeFest 2014? You've been waiting since TribeFest 2012 ended. It's enough pain already. Leave the suffering for Yom Kippur." 
We, as a People and as a Jewish polity face what may be the most challenging year in our experience and JFNA sends out this?

"Disgusting," indeed.



1. Given the emasculation of what was the position of National Campaign Chair, who would want the position as JFNA Senior V-P, Development? When we conceived of what is JFNA, it was contemplated that the National Campaign Chair would be among three equals at the top of the organization's leadership pyramid -- with the Board and Executive Chairs. And, in fact, National Chairs from Carole Solomon and Bob Schrayer, z'l, to David Fisher performed exactly as contemplated. Then the mantle passed to a series of acolytes who just read the scripts perfectly and acquiesced in the diminution of the position and of the position of Campaign/FRD within JFNA, a minor player in an expensive trade association.

2. Would you be surprised to learn that no one on the staff at JFNA has any sense of the historic role of the national system, of the United Jewish Appeal, in the great Special Campaigns that ennobled the federation system as did no other? Of course you wouldn't. Starting six years ago now, JFNA's lay and professional leaders willfully began the process to erase all institutional memory of what came before. This was why many of us were so excited with the engagement of Rabbi Danny Allen as UIA's chief professional officer -- Danny had that sense of history in his n'shama. But, it is clear that within the halls and offices of JFNA, Danny has been effectively silenced (those of us who knew and know him would never have believed that possible). This has to be especially hard in an organization whose CEO himself knows nothing of the organizational history other than to misstate it.

3. Are potential top candidates for federation positions being "blackballed" because someone/anyone at JFNA just doesn't like them? No, this isn't about me; I am not in the federation job market. (Were it 30 years ago, however, and I was seeking a federation job is there any doubt as to whether I would be blackballed?) However, I have heard from too many superb professionals ideally qualified and ready to lead a federation through the implementation of its growth plans, who were never even "allowed" to have their resumes considered in a Search process because the Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence (??) must have received the word -- "you will not give this person's name and resume to the ____________________ Jewish Federation." And, why? Well, maybe some JFNA lay person or senior professional has put out the word -- "this professional shall not be considered for any job in our system" and, lo and behold, "this person" isn't. 

It is incredible to me that The Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence with a "Managing Director, Talent Acquisition" denies its clients (whom I had thought, silly me, were the federations [not JFNA]) access to the resumes of some who represent "the highest quality professional...leadership for the federation system" because those persons were vetoed by those who clearly don't care a whit about the "federation system," only about exacting some form of "revenge" for "slights" real or imagined. 

The Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence...really?

4. Is it upsetting to me that the Blog is criticized for being negative? May I answer this question with another: is it upsetting that JFNA remains awash in mediocrity? The Blog has offered constructive approaches in a variety of areas of JFNA's work that have been implemented -- from greater transparency, to the GA Program in November at the Kotel, to the demise of the wasteful #ish and Community Heroes, to an apparent revisit of the organizational commitment to FRD, and others -- and we have exposed the mere rebranding of rehashed programs from UJA/CJF as "new Strategic Initiatives;" the waste of the Global Planning Table (waste that has apparently only just begun), a Board Chair's bizarre public rejection of "zionism," the meaningless Second Membership Criterion, and the abandonment of core principles and timeless values too many to count. I have failed in so many ways to be a catalyst for change -- the failures far, far outweigh the changes that have occurred.

And, so, with you, I remain frustrated by the inability of our voice to influence those transformational changes that each and every federation lay and professional leader who has carefully looked at JFNA in practice knows must take place for JFNA to even be a trade association of excellence let alone the central umbrella of the federation system combining the best of the predecessor organizations and the intent of the founders. We'll keep working on that.

Most important, may each of you and your families enjoy a shana tovah u'metukah. May you have a sweet Year, filled with good health and at least a measure of both justice for those of our People for whom justice continues to be denied and of peace.