Saturday, May 31, 2014


Retired Israeli Ambassador Yoram Ettinger, in his monthly newsletter, suggested the possibility that up to 500,000 Diaspora Jews might make aliyah within the short term. He wrote:
"Currently, there is a rare window of opportunity for a dramatic wave of Aliyah of at least 500,000 Jews during the next ten years from Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Argentina, and Western democracies such as Germany, France, England and the USA, which feature a significant infrastructure of Aliyah-oriented Jewish/Zionist education.  That window of opportunity consists of the relative strength of Israel's economy; the confidence demonstrated by global high tech giants in Israel's long-term viability (e.g., Intel's recent $6bn expansion of its already robust Israeli presence); the sustained global economic uncertainty; the moderate (or no) cost of Jewish education in Israel; the rising threat of Islamic terrorism throughout the world; Israel's success in drastically curtailing Palestinian terrorism; the expansion of an Islamic presence in European countries with substantial Jewish communities; the intensification of global anti-Semitism; and the growing uncertainty in Russia and Ukraine."
Ettinger went on to reflect on what he termed on this "rare window of opportunity" which, in turned, caused me to speculate on the impacts the sorry state of our system would have on such an opportunity for the current generations of Jews to write a new and brilliant chapter in modern Jewish history. 

The daily exodus to Israel suggests that Ettinger's "window of opportunity" may already be open: aliyah from France in the First Quarter 2014 is up 400%; Jews from the Ukraine are lined up at JAFI offices seeking counsel on aliyah, is there any doubt that the third largest Jewish population in Eur-Asia will soon commence? And, then what? Then what? In ejewishphilanthropy this question was framed with greater passion: "The Jewish Agency’s Roman Polonsky reports from Ukraine: “This is the calm before the storm,” many say. “What will we do in case of emergency? How will you save us?” - See more at:
We can't use history as a guide because the North American system is in such disarray and the leading philanthropists of this era and earlier have either passed on, been abandoned or forced out of the system in too many places? The Marvin Lenders, Joel Taubers, Carole Solomons, Art Sandlers and Richie Pearlstones of the 90s have been eased or pushed out -- the Max Fishers, Alex Grasses and Walter Annenbergs of the Operation Exodus times have passed away and the passion of a Brian Lurie is focused on another organization. Our wealth as a North American Jewish polity has never been greater and, yet, where are the women and men, lay and professional, who will recall us to our responsibilities to our People as we did during the last Exodus? 

Even more recently, are examples cited by one Commentator to this Blog that are equally apt to this Post:

     "Sad. So very sad for all who love the Federation system and remember what it could accomplish not so very long ago. 

Think about current "leadership" and staff and ponder:

Could these folks design and implement the Loan Guarantee Program and absorption plans for over 1 million refugees?

Could these folks have the wherewithal to get a leader (from Chicago) to basically say "I will guarantee the bribe offered by Uri Librani to keep rebels out of Adis Ababa long enough for 16,000 refugees to be loaded onto flights to Israel?

Could these folks design a Katrina Response the scope of which our system implemented in 2005 which raised over $31 Million total and had responsibility to distribute over $22 Million of those dollars in a planful consultative process with active involvement of the impacted Gulf Coast Jewish and general communities? (Obviously not as seen by its lackluster results in response to Hurricane Sandy and other more recent natural disasters).

So very sad indeed

Back then, almost a quarter-century ago and, then, so recently.we rose to those obligations with pride and passion in unheard of numbers of donors and dollars. Today, because of systemic neglect  and worse, we have lost 2/3rds of those donors and our Continental organization has turned us and our communities ever-more inward. Fund raising commitment and passion are not mere spigots that can be turned on and off at the whim of a pathetic and credulous continental leadership. No one at 25 Broadway -- not a lay person nor any professional is preparing for the potential of a real $1 billion special campaign need. No, they are awash in the detritus of their own narishkeit.

As the brilliant Bret Stephens wrote so recently in a different context: 
"Goethe wrote that nothing is worse than aggressive stupidity, which is true. But pompous impotence sure comes in second place."



Anonymous said...

This is the sad truth. We are so far from where we once were as to be but parody.

Anonymous said...

An organization characterized by both gross stupidity and arrogant incompetence absolutely deserves the kind of leadership it has.

RWEX said...

I am reprinting this Comment received anonymously today to the prior Post:
Vote no for the renewal of Silverman's contract.

"Enough is enough. He can only make it worse the longer he is there.

1) There is no one better - yes there is.

2) Chairs do not want to spend the remainder of their term looking for a replacement. - so pass down contracted incompetence to your successors? OMG.

3) We have now surrounded him with professionals so get can do a good job - he did not surround himself proving his inability to lead an organization like JFNA

4) He is finally beginning to get it - no he isn't and he never will. Go back to sneakers and slacks.

5) We are replacing him by adding internal strength so we can afford to lose him later. - see 2 and 3 above.

6) Nobody ever did the JFNA Harlem Shake like Jerry - see your Rabbi for the proper blessing. But most Rabbis would suggest “Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, m’shaneh habriyot.” “Blessed are You, Adonai our God, ruler of the universe, who makes creatures different.” This is the benediction one is supposed to say upon seeing an exceptionally strange-looking person or animal.

7) Nobody needs JFNA anyway. - allow us to get rid of Jerry Silverman and we can bring back the JFNA we all need.

Vote no. Very simple. Vote no.

Do not be sheep."

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting if this person had the JFNA Board distribution list.....