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.


paul jeser said...

Jerry Silverman: "As we lament how the chagim disrupt September...."

This quote should be sent to every Federation Board and all Federation staff....

Anonymous said...

The recent use by Jerry of the word "Lament" regarding the intrusion of our people's holidays into his precious work schedule was pathetic and laughable in and of itself.

It caused me to pause for a moment, because "lament" has become a seldom used word.

It reminded me to reflect on its most common reference: The Book of Lamentations. Lamentations is one of our sacred writings, you will find it tucked after the Book of Ruth in Tanach.

It is a series of poems reflecting on the Destruction of Jerusalem. The destruction of JFNA certainly does not rise to the importance of Jerusalem, but the similarity of the feelings of its author are striking.

A smattering of passages:
O how has the city that was once so populous remained lonely! She has become like a widow! She that was great among the nations, a princess among the provinces, has become tributary.

She weeps, yea, she weeps in the night, and her tears are on her cheek; she has no comforter among all her lovers; all her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.

The roads of Zion are mournful because no one comes to the appointed season; all her gates are desolate, her priests moan; her maidens grieve while she herself suffers bitterly.

And gone is from the daughter of Zion all her splendor; her princes were like harts who did not find pasture and they departed without strength.

Jerusalem sinned grievously, therefore she became a wanderer; all who honored her despised her, for they have seen her shame; moreover, she herself sighed and turned away.

All of you who pass along the road, let it not happen to you. Behold and see, if there is any pain like my pain, which has been dealt to me, [with] which the Lord saddened [me] on the day of His fierce anger.

Behold, O Lord, for I am in distress, my innards burn, my heart is turned within me, for I have grievously rebelled; in the street the sword bereaves, in the house it is like death.

Anonymous said...

Our JFNA Lamentations are different.
We spend more time and money on a Global Planning Process to spend money we do not have. (Yes, I have heard the lies, there is money just waiting in the wings for this to all happen.)

We spend millions of dollars on this GPT waste of time and not even a fraction of that amount supporting campaign.

We make a mockery of leadership development in TribeFest that grows no leadership. We trot out the occasional young person who discovers Federation via a free trip to Las Vegas. Do we support and nurture the existing young donor - not.

We invite our competitors as Partners to TribeFest and other venues, while we ignore our real partners in the JCCs, JFSs and day schools.

We raid the Pushka, virtually stealing Tzedaka dollars to promote JFNA, and not our fund raising mechanism. Not to build capacity, but to build the kingdom of JFNA. It is a crime against the Jewish people.

We have built a virtual Fiefdom in Israel, whose goals,expense, and actual activities would not be endorsed by any Federation in North America.

We hire senior staff, pay them 6 figure salaries and never let them do their jobs.

We have weakened the treasure of UIA, by diminishing its crucial role and effectivity at the altar of JFNA's megalomaniacal past leadership and the false idol of "Brand". UIA is the only JFNA activity in Israel actual serving the Federations.

We claim success in the face of repetitive failure. We self congratulate and repackage failure as success. If one cannot admit failure one can never really improve. 700 some people planning to come to the Jerusalem GA. No more than 40 Federation execs will be a failure of biblical proportions.

Our well meaning top leadership, accepts the lies of our chief professional and are being lead like sheep to slaughter. Their naïveté in the face of the Flim Flam Man - our uneducated, menswear and tennis shoe salesman in chief,k is very sad. They diminish their own reputations of solid past leadership. It is not fair because they are not the cause of the devastation, but if they do not step up and stop it, history will only record their failure, while it gives a pass to those who came before them.

I too lament. I lament that Jerry Silberman is being allowed to destroy the JFNA that I love.

Pay off Jerry's contract, pay off our Senior VP in Israel's contract and fire the overpaid consultants before our Jerusalem on Broadway is destroyed in Biblical proportions. We do not need a new book of Lamentations.

Michael and Dede, the time to act is now.

Anonymous said...

sclaimes 1354I couldn't agree more with #3. But it's not just Michael and Dede who need to act. So do Hoffman, Nasatir and Ruskay.

In less than a year Ruskay retires; the other two at some future point. Their legacy too WILL include the destruction of a national Federation system under THEIR watch.

Anonymous said...

There are multiple reasons for Lamentations when it comes to JFNA -- as someone is purported to have said: "they know not what they do."