Tuesday, September 3, 2013


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.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Vetting the 21st century professional and volunteer leader: Answering yes to any quesion below requires clarification and re-education before continuing.

Are you now or have ever been a friend of Richard Wexler?

Do you have residual sympathies for UJA?
(The organization we dare not speak its name)

Do you identify with and are prone to use any of the following terms: historic partnership; the lay-professional partnership; collective responsibility; fundraising on missions; overseas and Israel needs; caucus; collaborative planning; core funding advocacy?