Sunday, April 13, 2014


 "It is not an arrogant organization that chooses priorities, it's an irresponsible organization that fails to choose."
JFNA Chair, Michael Siegal, sent out "An Update on Our Work" (3/26) that focused, if one can call it that, on five, count 'em...5, what I guess he would call "systemic priorities" in which JFNA has (or is) engaged. I will summarize them for you in my own way (but, trust me, the entire list fails to justify a budget of $10 million let alone $30.5):

  1. Ukraine. Emphasizing a meeting that CEO Jerry had with Eduard Dolinsky the very excellent chief pro of one of so many Ukrainian Jewish organizations (whose lay Chair, during the Ukrainian Revolution, gave public support to the now deposed Putin Puppet President, Yanukovych...but, never mind), Michael wrote of the creation of the JFNA Ukraine Assistance Fund Allocations Committee (with two superb Co-Chairs) -- but never mentioned what the "ask" JFNA has made of the federations or whether JFNA is leading the FRD effort. But, he wrote, the new Committee will "...make appropriate grants as new needs emerge." (Makes you wonder who writes this stuff?
  2. The Kotel. You will be reassured by the fact that someone(s) from JFNA "participated in a group discussion" on the management of the "egalitarian section" of the Wall. Things, as they say, are moving in a positive direction...but it is Israel and it is the Kotel, after all.
  3. Conversions in Israel. On this one there has been "deep discussion" by federations and the religious movements that "encouraged Knesset leaders" to reject legislation that would detrimentally impact on progress on religious diversity in Israel. "Discussion will continue."
  4. Disabilities Advocacy. With thanks to the Ruderman Family Foundation, JFNA has been trumpeting its leadership in the area of internships for Jewish people (I assume) with disabilities. Kal ha'kavod to the Ruderman Family. 
  5. TribeFest 2014. The Kool-Aid cup runneth over. 1,200 party-goers from  85 communities. Someone, maybe many, saw something that "excites and inspires us for the future of our People." G-d, let's for sure do it again for another $1 million plus.
There you have it -- a "meeting" with the chief pro of a small Ukrainian Jewish group, a "group discussion" on matters related to the Wall, a "deep discussion" by someone with someone on Conversion legislation, thanks to the Ruderman Foundation, the catalyst for assistance the the disabled community and, of course, the "buzz" from another TribeFest. Insipidity to some, Kool-Aid to others.

Your JFNA at work.

Chag Pesach Sameach to you and your families.



Anonymous said...

Try this thought experiment: you are participating in a meeting of your family foundation or giving circle. You have a modest five figure amount to distribute. In your back pocket is this memo you received as a member of your local federation board. You, along with your fellow decision are supportive of overseas needs, inclusion, religious diversity, outreach and a proud an equal role of women in Jewish life. However, in each of those arenas federations and our national agency are way down on the list of those making the real difference. We were once in our sphere the Macy's, the Lord and Taylors and the Nieman Marcuse's rolled into one - today we are not even K-Mart. Nothing being done in the areas mentioned is compelling enough to give you the reason to take that letter out of your back pocket. Maybe at some future board meeting someone needs to open the conversation as to what it is we do that truly separates us from our philanthropic competitors and Quasi-partners. Maybe then we will understand the story that can and needs to be successfully told. Wishing Richard and all readers of this blog a sweet Pesach,
The Last Believer

Anonymous said...

No, try to imagine a continental organization that is creative, well-managed by professionals who you can trust and lay leaders who take responsibility. No, you can't even imagine it can you? Not with these sad clowns.

Anonymous said...

If TribeFest "excites and inspires us for the future of our People" how does CEO Jerry explain the fact that TribeFest will likely be laid to external rest?

Anonymous said...

Why do you keep putting down TribeFest? I have been at all of them and they are great.

I have gotten drunk and got laid every time and my parents friends paid the bill. And we were all Jewish so what is the big deal?

You complain about the subsidy, shut up. Nobody except the JFNA workers would go if there was no subsidy.

My parents made me join a Jewish Frat, go to Hillel, Birthright, and now they shep naches from TribeFest.

Nobody cares about the sessions or anything else, it is a great party. And maybe I will find a Jewish wife there someday. (Don't worry, I am always careful).

Thank you JFNA for a great time. Better if it was every year. Las Vegas is a better destination than New Orleans, but skiing would be fun too.

RWEX said...

Well said.