Monday, January 13, 2014


The title of this Post is a question all of us should be asking JFNA. Here is a definition:
"A systematic plan for the expenditure of a usually fixed resource, such as money or time, during a given period.."
That is a standard definition that we all use -- at home, at our place of business (even at Olympic Steel), at our federations -- but not at JFNA.

For Jerry Silverman and his minions, the annual Budget is nothing more than a $29.5 million ATM machine from which irresponsible people can spray money at irresponsible things, moving dollars around at their whim without process or accountability.

Examples, of course:

  • There used to be an Intermediate Communities Consulting Fund -- a line item in the JFNA Budget, until it...just...disappeared. No governance process; no Budget Committee process; it just went. Where, nobody either knows or, if they know, they don't tell.
  • The infamous TribeFests, lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in its first two iterations. How were those losses covered? No governance process; no Budget Committee process. The losses just got "covered." From where, nobody knows or, if they know, they don't tell.
  • How many federations were unable or unwilling to pay full Dues in 2013? How will the Dues deficit be handled? Have you heard a word about this; have you seen a list of federations in "technical default?" 
But, what you/we need to know is this: if CEO Jerry spies a shiny object and decides he wants JFNA to invest time and money in it, he doesn't bother with Budget and Finance, or the JFNA Executive, he just goes forward. The JFNA CFO, for whom I had great respect, she having come from a straight line that began with Lee Twersky and Harold Adler and traveled through Sam Astrof, raises no external red flags, maybe not even internal. All rules on non-profit governance and management are systematically ignored, trashed and no one bats an eye.

Thus, the checks and balances built into our federations' systems, built into the governance of JFNA, built into the Budget processes of every business, non-profit of for-profit, have been deconstructed at JFNA as if they don't even exist. Where's the Treasurer/Chair of Budget & Finance, where are the controls? Enough with the claque's applause already. This abuse has to end and end now.

The worst case is, as has been the case for the past three-plus years, the Global Planning Table. Budgets for Israel-Overseas, Israel Office and "Philanthropic Resources" have been raided for millions to fund the amoeba-like growth of this thing. And, today? Just think about this: JFNA/GPT (yes, you can't tell one from the other any more) proposes setting up a separate "Company" with its own overhead for the JFNA version of "immersive experiences." Let's say that this Company will have a "Budget" of $5,000,000 and will "contract" with, e.g., JFNA Marketing and Communications, paying JFNA overhead. Now, remember that JFNA has not funded $1...that's not ONE DOLLAR...of MASA; it has wholly failed to meet any financial responsibility to Birthright; yet, JFNA/GPT now demands that it be the interface between JAFI (for MASA) and Birthright and the communities. And, it's going to spend JAFI/JDC dollars (perhaps deducted from the deeply diminished core allocations) to do so. Only those with disdain for or ignorance of our system would make such a demand and only fools would honor such a demand.

We have a mess on our hands. And we are doing nothing about it.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If what you have written is true, it would be grounds for dismissal in my federation, in my business. These are unconscionable practices which, if permitted by the Budget Chair or either (or both) Co-Chair, would disqualify them from further service.