Tuesday, December 31, 2013


31 December 2013

Dear Dede and Michael:

A happy and healthy New Year to you both and to your families. I thought that at this, the end of Calendar Year 2013, I would write to convey my concerns with the constant lack of direction at JFNA and with the state of mediocrity that it has become. You, as our elected leaders, can change things and I pray that you will.

I am saddened by the reality that neither of you reads this Blog; though I fully understand that no leader likes to read a litany of criticism of the organization which he/she leads. I truly wish that JFNA under your leadership were beyond criticism, and I also believe that you can make a difference from this day forward...but, only...only, if you seize the day and act boldly.

You have to know, 18 months after your election, that JFNA has continued its aimless wandering -- lurching in one direction (maybe the Global Planning Table) then another (maybe an illusory announcement of a $1 billion special campaign for free Jewish pre-School for all, with no substance, no planning, no consultation and, really, no thought) and then another (back to the twice-failed TribeFest wasting another $1 million-plus). And, all of these bear the imprint of the CEO, all words, cliches...amphigory. If this is the best that we can be, how sad would that be?

Where and what do you want JFNA to be at the end of your terms? And, what do you believe are the steps necessary to get there? Has the organization reached such depths that no one will take the CEO position were it to open up (as so many believe it should)? I just know that not to be true; and wouldn't that be the most warped excuse to just go on goin' on?

Here is what one Commentator wrote the two of you in response to an earlier Post:

"If I was Chairman of JFNA and the President (Silverman) put me up at a microphone to discuss a billion dollar initiative for pre-schools and summer camps, without vetting the concept and getting Federations in alignment first, I would return to his office and help him pack his things. 

It would be Silverman's last day on the job.

Even worse, is the fact that the Federations are not even upset. They already accept that JFNA has no relevance.

JFNA wants a billion dollar pre-school and camping initiative. JFNA wants a part of the Prime Minister's initiative. And JFNA does not want to shut up already about the Global Planning Table Fiasco.

Calling Silverman and Caspi failed managers does not begin to capture the depth of the issue.

If Chair of the Board Michael Siegal and Chair of the Executive Diane Feinberg support the renewal of Silverman's contract - it is they who have failed the American Jewish Community.

Be responsible: do a 360 degree evaluation. You will hear nothing but failure. The only place people talk about JFNA success is inside its own offices.

JFNA is a failure. If you do not believe it, hire an impartial firm to just compile what people are saying in the field. Listen to them. They pay the dues.

The latest excuse is now Jerry has a team in place. Give him a chance to use his team, It was Jerry who already proved his failure when he refused to put a team in place. Professionals and lay alike begged him to recruit and build a team. They told him he did not know Federations and he needed inside professionals. He refused.

You gave him his chance. He failed the challenge. Time for a new batter. "There is no one better out there" is the next battle cry. Yes there are. And it does not matter. You do not need to pay somebody a half a million dollars a year to make the chairs look foolish in front of the whole Jewish world. And you do not need failed managers to have no accomplishments.

Michael and Dede, you represent the owners of this team. It is up to you to set the standards of the players who will play on this team. You wanted the job - you won the responsibility.

Yes, Michael and Dede, you are both dedicated, caring and wonderful lay people. But you are looking foolish to everyone, as long as you are standing next to the Harlem Shake Jerry Silverman.

You cannot defend the indefensible.

Do the right thing."
My friends, my leaders, make 2014 a better year; a great year. Starting now. Seize the day.



Anonymous said...

Why waste your time with these alleged "leaders?" They haven't the courage of their own convictions; if they have any.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1 is right -- why do anything, why show the courage to do what you were elected to do when it's so much easier to do nothing, to slide through and leave an organization that by your inaction has wasted another $90-million on your watch?

Anonymous said...

Someone once said (or wrote) that you get the leaders you deserve. We have no reason to expect anything better than the leaders we have for an organization so broken.

Anonymous said...

Richard, There will be no courage from these Co-Chairs unless the Large City Executives demand Silverman's removal. And they won't as long as Silverman asks their permission before every mistake (or apologizes and grovels as they like it afterwards)

Anonymous said...

No truer words have ever been spoken than those by anon #4.

Anonymous said...

OK, Richard. Betting you have not heard word one back from these leaders of ours. Right?? Why are they deserving of your respect when the only advice they take is that they receive from those who have taken JFNA from one failure to another? All they deserve is scorn.