Thursday, January 16, 2014


In case you were wondering what the Global Planning Table has been busying itself with as it careens from plan to plan...

The JFNA Senior Vice-President in Charge of Acronyms -- the same one (probably) who came up with #ish, TribeFest and others -- has struck again. Continuing to operate in the apparent belief that branding and marketing are everything...that these will drag substance along...JFNA has seemingly convinced that it is essential to their new joint effort to create a meaningful "immersive Jewish experience" for young adults that will build upon the Jewish Agency's MASA and other Israel Experience programs and JDC's new efforts to create a Jewish Service Corps. 

Oh, yeah, what does all this have to do with pie? Or, more relevant, JPIE, their new and expensive and expansive brand? In a December, 15 page white paper (pretty well written for a JFNA document), while the acronym is used long before it is defined, JPIE is the Jewish Peoplehood Immersive Experience Network. It's a "brand of immersive experiences;" a new "company" with a Board "[R]esponsible for all policy and governance decisions" that will include JFNA, JDC, JA "...and 3-5 Federations (with the largest financial investment)." (This is not to be read as conflicting with a Program Management Team of professionals only from JA, Joint, JFNA and "two (unnamed) federations!!??) 

For starters three pros will be hired by who knows (a Director, something called a "Follow-Through Coordinator" and, of course, a Marketing/Branding Professional) and a budget that will grow from $1,400,000 in 2014 to, gulp, $63,545,000 in 2019, with projected program participants growing from 3,955 in 2014 to 23,450 in five years. (Typically, in the rush to publish and distribute this JFNA document, no one seemed to care that the numbers of participants to aggregate 75,000 by 2019.) If you don't see a new bureaucracy in the works here, you don't know JFNA.

Speaking of not knowing JFNA, if you read the document some day, you will learn that "[T]he proposed initiative capitalizes on....the vision and reach of JFNA" as distinct in all areas from the actual (as opposed to imagined as is the case with the self-congratulatory JFNA description) strengths of federations, JAFI and the Joint. The ultimate purpose is commendable -- "It allows us collectively to fulfill our responsibility to build the Jewish future by becoming a cutting edge leader in Jewish young adult engagement around the world." Yet, Birthright (upon whose marketing and branding efforts this thing obviously arrogates to itself) is mentioned but once in 15 pages and, then, only as a potential participant feeder.

In a January 6 Memo GPT Chair for Life, David Butler, (not to be confused with GPT Decision-Making Chair for Life, Kathy Manning) describes the JPIE (while never using the brand name) as "neatly dovetailing" with the "Government of Israel and World Jewry Initiative." Sure. That Memo led directly into a January 14 meeting, convened at the Israel Embassy in Washington by the Jewish Agency (!!) on the very subject of the "Initiative" -- if you weren't invited, fear not, you were well-represented by the JFNA Co-Chairs, CEO Jerry, the GPT Chairs (there are many), and some Federation CEOs -- "round up the usual suspects" -- all invitees. This is worse than the tail wagging the dog, friends, and if I were at JAFI and the Joint, let alone the GOI, I would demand to know who and what are in charge here. And just what are they bringing to the table. It appears to be, as do all things JFNA, chaos.

All of you know JFNA's horrible habit of over-promising and under-delivering in all things. This time we are asked, among "Exclusive all-alumni opportunities offered by the JPIE Network," to "Imagine the Clinton Global Initiative done Jewishly." This from an organization that has yet to produce a single viable new program in 13 years and has not fully funded any obligation it has undertaken over the last 6 years. 

And, while a recent study found that 817,000 Israeli children are living below the poverty level, Chair Butler wrote that the GPT is studying a "proposal focusing on Breaking the Cycle of Poverty for Children and Families in Israel." Yeah, let's look at that as a "replicable model" while our extended family is in crisis. Or, maybe, let's send a letter to the PM demanding action.

So there you have it. Let's go to table discussions so you will all have the feeling of participating. "JPIE" -- more pie in the sky? Oh my.



Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who thinks many ordinary Jews would read the phrase "immersive experience" as efforts to get more people to use the mikveh?

Anonymous said...

"becoming a cutting edge leader in Jewish young adult engagement"

What a laugh.

Are they kidding themselves, or just trying to impress on Michael and Dede they are actually doing something?

Anonymous said...

Wich SVP are you referring to?

Anonymous said...

Given the level of professional leadership that has now produced j-PIE from the ashes of the GPT, this stupid acronym will just be the latest failed brand coming out of jfna

Anonymous said...

Richard -- JPIE?? You're making this up, right??

Anonymous said...

With all due credit to Richard, only some significantly overpriced consultant, or the Dockers guy, could possibly make up j-PIE.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "OH MY..."JPIE"":

A bit of history that may be titled, "here we go again?": In the early years of Birthright a letter (open to varied interpretations) was sent by the first CEO of UJC indicating Federation support for the initiative. Whether it, and dollar amounts discussed, was a commitment or simply broadly aspirational, was the stuff of much dispute and ill will between all the erstwhile partners. Even once a new partnership formula was developed and appropriately processed and approved the bad taste and mistrust remained. The point here being that national organizations should never make representations, particularly financial ones, from the top down unless they have meticulously vetted support at the grass roots. One can only hope that the lesson has been learned or internalized by the few who remain engaged from that earlier period. Sadly I fear we are system with either little memory or a selective one at best.

Anonymous said...

Advertising Tribefest with an email that begins

Macklemore will NOT be at TribeFest...

JFNA clearly does NOT understand young adult engagement.

(posted by an active, member of the Tribefest target audience)