Monday, June 9, 2014


In many dictatorships, like JFNA, when things go very wrong, the dictators just change the rules, ignore their own governance, or, in the words of CEO You-Have-Got-To-Be-Kidding, "act first and apologize later never apologize." So goes the Global Planning Table. 

After the May meetings of the Global Planning Table, this letter went out from the Committee's Chair:
"Dear Global Planning Table Committee member:

I am pleased to report that at Wednesday’s meeting, the GPT Executive Steering Committee voted unanimously to advance all 3 of our emerging initiatives. JQuest and the Israel Children’s Zone (ICZ) were approved to move forward as Signature Initiatives, while iRep, the Israel Religious Expression Platform, will seek support as a voluntary project for interested Federations, with support from foundations and donors.  The next step in the process is to present the GPT recommendations to the JFNA Board of Trustees.  That is scheduled to occur on June 9, 2014.

Following the anticipated Board approval of our recommendations, we expect the next 3-4 months to be devoted to further work on each of the initiatives.  We are therefore canceling our previously scheduled June 19 meeting, and will circulate updates to the Committee (including a report regarding the results of the Board presentation) as we move forward. 

Please keep our planned October 1, 2014 meeting (in NYC) on your calendars.

Best regards,
David J. Butler
Chair, Global Planning Table"

  • As you would expect from this "Table" there is a lot more being ignored, including the authorizing actions of the JFNA Board -- although you may expect those to come at today's JFNA Board meeting. "The GPT Executive Steering Committee (that's the one with limited, exclusive membership [in other words, most likely, the one on which your Federation is unrepresented]) voted unanimously to advance all 3 of our emerging initiatives." Nice, huh? Well, not so much. You may recall that back in March, the same Chairman Butler, a fine lawyer, advised:                                

                        ""Prior to the meeting, GPT leadership reached out to member Federations that were involved in the design of the Signature Initiatives in order to secure the minimum threshold commitments required (according to the GPT design document) prior to officially launching any Signature Initiative, namely a minimum of 10 Federations willing to invest a total of a minimum of $500,000 per year for 3 years.  We have secured tentative commitments that meet these thresholds."

  • Well, guess what, undisclosed by Chairman Butler, a fine lawyer, the GPT still doesn't have "minimum threshold commitments required" from 10 federations. Clearly, it never had tentative commitments. But it does have at least one Foundation commitment which has been threatened with withdrawal if they "don't get started immediately."  So, forget the requirement, the GPT leadership says, we are moving this disaster forward.
  • JFNA governance, as CEO Jerry advised at the meeting, requires (there is that damn word again!!) that a campaign (such as that to raise funds for these important Initiatives), requires the approval of the JFNA Board. Ms. Manning, who, as you all will recall, appointed herself the Chair of the GPT Executive Steering Committee while still the Chair of JFNA, blithely informed the Committee that it can merely ignore the JFNA By-Laws. She might have added "as I did whenever I felt it necessary when I chaired that Board." Jerry, cowed as always by the contradiction of his sponsor, and Chair Butler, likewise, said nothing.  
I have noted since Day 1 of the Rube Goldberg-like creation that is the Global Planning Table, that JFNA had permitted the creation of an alternative governance structure there, filled with unelected representatives, now just moving merrily ahead ignoring even its own governance, rules and "requirements."

But, please reflect on this: both the so-called "Signature Initiatives" and the curiously-named Voluntary Thing are not at all of or for the federation system -- they are, each and all of them, products that will be adopted by some self-selected group and clearly not all of the federations. The GPT/JFNA entities are nothing more that facilitators for those federations which can afford participation and have any interest whatsoever. For JFNA, as predicted on these pages, these projects will be funders of JFNA staffing -- as always, all about GPT/JFNA as the tail wags the dog and the federations are nowhere in sight. 

All brought to you by an organization whose leaders apparently cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. Some day they will wake up and see the bright lights of the looming catastrophe they have permitted; then they will be road kill.

Save them from themselves.



Anonymous said...

I wonder if Vegas will issue odds on when this farce will come to an end. I suggest we set up a raffle and pick dates. The person closest to the date gets half the pot and JAFI, JDC and World ORT split the other half. It is probably a sure thing that this exercise will generate more money than the initiatives.

Anonymous said...

This goes far beyond just JFNA but to the vacuum created by visionless leadership in this century: GPT; ONAD; the GOI initiative; this new Aliyah fiasco with accusations and denials flying...chickens running amok with no heads...federations clueless on so many fronts. But they sure understand the art of high compensation and contract negotiation and giveaways!

Anonymous said...

What do you expect anonymous #2 - all of these organizations are run by clowns (and that's on a good day!)

And that includes the off-stage puppet masters and over-priced consultants.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, do we even know who is the ringmaster of this circus? If it's Michael Siegal, a respected businessman, then shame on him; if it's not Michael Siegal, then further shame on him; if it's Jerry Silverman and Kathy Manning, then shame on all of us.