Saturday, May 10, 2014


In earlier Posts I have commented on the futility of The Alliance, the national lack of effort to create and enhance a national pool of funds in support of the national agencies created by our system. The Alliance has become nothing more than a national joke and, in The Alliance's treatment of the NCSJ -- Advocates on Behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia -- a paradigm of JFNA's own failures...everywhere.

To The Alliance lay and professional "leadership" the NCSJ allocation looked like just another ATM machine to be drawn down to fund other agencies and purposes. So the NCSJ was deprecated, its purposes and impacts in its areas of operation and expertise derided and its allocations cut, cut and cut again. In 2007, the NCSJ allocation from The Alliance was $450,000; by 2014 that was down to $132,000 -- a 2/3rds reduction. Other funded national agencies also suffered cuts from the funding pool, but none as Draconian as the cuts to the NCSJ. When explanations were sought, none were provided -- "do more with less" was the mantra. At no time did The Alliance "leaders" aggressively seek more members and greater funding -- too busy with other stuff, I guess.

While those who were engaged with the NCSJ and those who had been assisted through its efforts advocated for the NCSJ Budget, The Alliance "leaders", rather than doing their jobs -- rather than vigorously reaching out to expand its membership and increase the funding pool, focused instead on just...exactly what? My belief was and is that, at the least,  the NCSJ serves as an insurance policy for the continental Jewish community in the event of crises in the Republics of the Former Soviet Union and a cost-effective one that cried out for greater federation financial support. I guess that these Alliance "leaders" disagreed. And, look at what has happened.

The NCSJ has been our federations window through which we have learned of the impact of the Ukraine-Russia crisis in almost real time. The NCSJ communiques are being distributed to federation leadership on a daily basis in my federation and, I hope, in yours. The NCSJ contacts within the Jewish organizations and structures in the Ukraine and its reach within the new government there has provided our system with vital insights. The NCSJ has proved its worth ten times over if not more.

But, what The Alliance has done through its ineptitude has been to force national agencies to do exactly that which The Alliance (and its predecessor entities) was created to forestall -- engage in vigorous fund-raising. And, NCSJ and its fellow agencies have done so merely to survive, merely to perform the functions the national system had created them to perform.

And so it was that here in Spring 2014 the NCSJ has been the sole source for detailed, comprehensive in-depth information, contacts and expertise on what has happened and is on-going in the Ukraine and the impacts of what has happened there on the Ukrainian Jewish community. Yes, the Jewish Agency and JDC are engaged in critical work on the ground in the Ukraine but neither of them have the reach of the NCSJ. The NCSJ has been there for us today, in the current crisis, because it has been there last year, the year before, and even the decades before those years. Where have our communities looked for information, for Updates, for expertise -- the same place, the NCSJ, which The Alliance has ignored even undercut since its formation.

Oh, and while cutting the national agency allocations to those agencies which were created by our system, The Alliance invited two organizations to join The Alliance -- organizations neither created by nor part of our system (and which have been raising funds in competition with it). Yes, We!!



Anonymous said...

The Alliance has been poorly mishandled.

And it seems the organizations added and those, in general, Jerry likes to tout all involve major funders from his "good ole days" at the Foundation for Jewish Camp.

Anonymous said...

When the late Arthur Brown and, then, Phyllis Margolius, z"l, led the entity that preceded The Alliance, they both understood the benefits of well-funded national agencies and how to support them. Since The Alliance replaced the National Funding Council, its lay and professional leadership haven't cared any more about the National Agencies than JFNA cares about the federations -- in other words, not at all.

Anonymous said...

I hear that The Alliance will invite JFNA to join as a member so it can apply for an allocation. Part of its new FRD effort

Anonymous said...

I sat on The Alliance and I have to agree with your conclusions -- a very negative laity when not totally disinterested; a lead pro who seemed bored with the assignment; and we never heard a word from anyone in lay leadership of JFNA. It was worse than pathetic and obviously still is

Anonymous said...

No there won't be any apology. You know Silverman's mantra -- "act first, screw up and never apologize."

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wexler, I serve on the Board of another national agency that has suffered huge cuts and higher expenses at the hands of the Alliance. I wish we had an advocate like you, willing to suffer the personal consequences of speaking out. Instead we do as JFNA wants -- we suffer in silence watching our vital work disregarded and underfunded while JFNA gets its entire budget funded and does nothing for $30 million every year.

It's pitiful.

Anonymous said...

It's hard for many once relevant Jewish organizations to make their case today.

The NCSJ is one of many such examples, and while it's understandable that former chairs such as Richard Wexler will continue to advocate for it, in the end we can say that it served its purpose well and now it's time to move on.

This is not to take away from any of the other points made by Richard here regarding the process, or lack thereof, within the Alliance.

RWEX said...


I appreciate your letter but...have you read the 28 Daily Alerts from the NCSJ to your community, mine, all on the issues being faced by the Jewish communities of the Ukraine? What organization is providing those..and what does that organization cost your community...and what other organization could do so?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for speaking up for ALL of the underfunded, scorned and orphaned national agencies. Unfortunately there are deaf ears all around.