Thursday, May 1, 2014


While I watch JFNA wallow in the swamp in which it finds itself with a failed professional leader operating with no apparent direction from the lay Chairs whose responsibility for the leadership of our continental organization they have abdicated, apparently, to three Large City Executives. And those three, and we all know who they are, seem perfectly happy that no decision is made without them even as JFNA sinks/has sunk into the quicksand.

If we needed an example of the impact that decisive Jewish leadership can have, we need not look any further than that demonstrated by Adam Silver, the President and CEO of the National Basketball Association. Only recently elected to office, Silver faced a seminal crisis arising out of the racist diatribe delivered by the Jewish owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling. Silver recognized that he could not equivocate, he had to lead the Owners (his "Board") in not only supporting a lifetime ban but the forced sale of the team. As one observer noted: "He took his power and exercised it." Or as another said: "He did his job." Three months into that job, he did it -- he pushed his Board, many of whom might have been reluctant, to do the right thing. He led.

The only leadership one sees at JFNA is Jerry's -- and that might be a good thing were Silverman leading this critical organization in the right direction. BUT HE IS NOT. And no one, not the Three Wise Men, not the Board Chair, not the Executive Chair, not the Executive Committee, Advisory Board or the JFNA Board itself has the courage to say, as Charles Bronfman did -- "ENOUGH. WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH." Enough ineptitude, enough embarrassment, enough waste, enough cliches, enough pandering. ENOUGH. Sometimes, as Adam Silver has done, leaders must take risks in the best interests of the institution...real leaders do so.

I have heard from so many Federation Executives who have written me in confidence telling me in no uncertain terms that they have no further interest in working with an organization and CEO who are patronizing and unresponsive, not once but multiple times. And, yet, JFNA's leaders are silent. 

We don't need an Adam Silver (although that would be great), we need Chairs who have the courage and the will to do what they know is the right thing to do, to lead their leadership to support them in doing the right thing...AND TO DO IT NOW.



Anonymous said...

The qualities you seek Richard are not in the collective DNA of the system: Truth telling is considered a crime, and a foolish one at that; risk taking has only negative rewards; and the obsessive need to be "in the room" stifles most dissent.

RWEX said...

I know that the current lay leadership, as opposed to their predecessors, wants to do the right thing -- they are, however, blocked by exactly the "collective DNA" you have identified.

Anonymous said...

Adam Silver reflected Jewish values worthy of The Forward 50 but he is a leader who happens to be Jewis-- he is not a "Jewish leader." Where do we find those anymore?

Anonymous said...

Sure, JFNA finally offered its "position" on racism -- 5 days after Sterling's racist rants went public. What took them so long? The usual, no doubt: finding the necessary 5 people who would approve it.