Saturday, October 19, 2013


"[t]here are mountains of data...on how he is not regarded as strong or tough or up to the job..." 
No, this was not written about CEO Jerry ...the problem is that it well could have been...over and over again. While failure is all around him, the President/CEO appears to believe that he is "protected" by his ability to dance (even the "Shuffle") away from every failure of leadership unscathed ... untouched. Well, he's wrong. Even as his bloviations, hyperbole and cliche have reached the level of credibility of that infamous Iraqi "Information Minister" -- you remember Baghdad Bob? -- during the Gulf War, credibility is crumbling, leaving...just a pile of rust -- four years' worth of failed Teflon.

JFNA gave Jerry Silverman a great chance -- following a terribly flawed predecessor, he was given 5 years to propel JFNA forward; I can think of no one who didn't want him to succeed. Four years later and where are we? Are we better off today than we were as a system four years ago? Clearly not... are our leaders prepared to acknowledge the mistake. 

Some have suggested that I blame former Board Chair, Kathy Manning, for the mistake that this hiring has turned out to be. But, that's not the case, not really. She is to be congratulated for her naked and absolute manipulation of otherwise smart leaders and for ending the blatant hegemony of the LCE (which, after the abject failure of Jerry's predecessor) that had literally imposed a Howard Rieger on the Continental level. On the other hand, of course, she chose Silverman without any consultation with...apparently anyone (other than, maybe, continuing consultant Deborah K. Smith, and, perhaps, husband Randall Kaplan) with any knowledge of the federation system. And she didn't do that because she didn't have to being, as all of us would come to know if we didn't already, that, as the mirror told her every day, she was the smartest person in the room.

And, though Jerry was her guy, she often treated him with a "patronizing over- fondness" -- thus, when doing a supposed evaluation of Silverman, her investigation as to your sense of the CEO would begin "isn't Jerry great!!" Your answer, obviously not required. 

Jerry, who had had great success in revitalizing a small national Jewish agency - the Foundation for Camp - learned that his experience there was not transferable to what was to become JFNA. Not only did he serve a very strong Chair, to whom he knew not what to do other than bow and scrape, but he had to serve a number of the LCE to whom bowing and scraping were probably not enough. 

One perceptive albeit anonymous Commentator, writing in response to the recent Let's Talk Tachlis Post, wrote:
"Better needs to start today. 

As the current CEO has not performed, regardless of the obstacles in his path, the time has come for a clean sweep in the office of the CEO (including all those overpaid and unoriginal consultants). He thought he was the messiah who would save the system and his actions have proven he's not.

Better includes federations stepping up to the plate and DEMANDING an organization that serves ALL 155 of them - not just the "big 3."

The Jewish federation system will not survive four more years like the last four. A new CEO, and 155 strong federations, caring federations, gives the system a fighting chance." 
Amen -- on all points. Enough is enough.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for articulating what so many of us are thinking. Silverman survives because he keeps his "keepers" happy while my federation gets almost no assistance whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Alas, there is a fallacy in the anonymous comment at the end of the original post - A new CEO and 155 strong federations gives the system a fighting chance. My fear is that the current CEO and JFNA have weakened the system and certainly have not made 155 federations strong enough to give the system a fighting chance. There are too many federations that are struggling with their own internal problems that they can't even begin to be concerned about saving the system. And what about the big 3? How many of the execs are in the twilight of their tenure? Who is going to fill their positions that will know anything about the history of the system and who will step up to "save the system?" They will probably be so concerned with filling the shoes of their predecessor that they won't even pay any attention to the system, just like their predecessors.

paul jeser said...

And, then there is the sad Orlando Federation situation, which, the 'old' CJF probably would have helped to prevent:


RESPONSE from the Fed Exec and Chair

Anonymous said...

What does this national organization do for its member federations? What are its capabilities under the current professional CEO? Nothing and none.

Anonymous said...

What does this national organization do for its member federations? What are its capabilities under the current professional CEO? Nothing and none.

Anonymous said...

I think you are being way too hard on Jerry Silverman. Who else other than one who knows nothing about JFNA would want a job where you ar expected to report not only to your lay leaders but to 3 Large City Executives who believe that they are the brightest bulbs in the package and 153 (or more) other senior community professionals? OK, so you will be paid a great deal for accomplishing nothing; but still would it be worth it?