Monday, June 30, 2014


Periodically we will try to explain the so-called "Signature Initiatives" and "Voluntary Project" contemplated after years of expense as the focuses of the Global Planning Table. When the JFNA Board approved these Projects, the JFNA Chair (who I honestly do not believe yet understands the implications of a GPT takeover of JFNA) has advised me/us that now JFNA (not the GPT) will raise the investment required -- $500,000 from each of 10 federations -- as a pre-condition to each Signature Initiative. That's a $5,000,000 commitment per Initiative. 

Let's examine JQuest.

"JQuest is a signature initiative of the Global Planning Table (involving the Government of Israel and World Jewry). This is part of the $100 million that the Government of Israel has agreed to invest in programs to build Jewish identity and connection with Israel in the Diaspora. It has offered a dollar for dollar match with philanthropic funds raised in North America. The JQuest pilot will focus on 1834 year olds in North America, Israel and elsewhere, offering an immersive experiences to engage in meaningful Jewish service and professional internship experiences in Israel and resume building experiences that fit their lifestyles, aspirations and time available. There will be preand follow through programming as well. One of the goals of JQuest is to strengthen Jewish peoplehood by deepening participants’ connections with each other and the people with whom they are learning and working, and also their relationship with and experience in Israel and/or other Jewish communities."

My understanding (and if I am wrong someone will no doubt correct me) is that the incredibly ambitious Government Initiative was for far more money requiring a much greater North American federation investment. However, JFNA advised that it could not raise the amount that would have been required as the North American "fair share" paring down the Initiative before it even began. After all, an organization that couldn't even raise $3,000,000 to "Complete the Journey" of Ethiopian Jewry, then reduced the federation ask for that effort to $1,500,000 and couldn't raise that (after committing to JAFI that these funds would be raised) surely can be counted on...but for what?

Maybe there are those dreamers who still deny all reality and history and believe that federations will actually allocate "new money" to fund JQuest. Sure, there are the few which will do so, but the vast majority of participants (should there be a "vast number" of them) will simply reallocate dollars from MASA and/or Birthright and/or from the core allocations to this "Initiative" and allow the chachams at JFNA to reallocate them and, somehow, count these dollars as "new" and triumph a great "victory." The only "victory" here will be the triumph of the Luddites over common sense. 

Perhaps you will recall that philanthropist and erstwhile JFNA leader Michael Gellman at one point recommended aloud, while JFNA Executive Chair, that the system just reallocate all of its overseas dollars to Birthright. Now he gets closer to his dark "dream." You can expect that Susie Goldman Gellman will assure that JQuest receives a major family Foundation gift as well.

Soon, we'll take a look at a "Voluntary Initiative" on these pages.



Anonymous said...

Let's see, how many times can the same gift be counted? Two is bare minimum today. Do I hear 3; 4?

Anonymous said...

Richard, Back on January 6, David Butler, the mouthpiece for the Global Planning Table (or, perhaps, the ventriloquist's dummy) announced in a Memo to federations: "As noted in the GPT founding document (from December 2011) prior to official launch, Signature Initiatives require a minimum of 10 Federations to invest a total of a minimum of $500,000 per year for 3 years."

Now, the GPT and JFNA merely ignore their own requirements. I don't know about you, but I call this fraud.

Anonymous said...

I was in a senior position at a Large City federation when the following occurred: one of our "major LAY leaders" (who HAD BEEN elevated to a high status position at JFNA) gave a large annual gift to our campaign. Unbeknown to us, he made a large gift to an Israeli charity intending, as it turned out, that that gift be paid out of his annual campaign gift -- he had neither told us, at his federation, or anyone at the Israeli charity, that he was playing the "two-fer" game. The chickens came home to roost when that Israeli charity at our donor's demand, called us and demanded that we pay over our donor's pledge to them. We wouldn't -- finally, the matter was "resolved."

At his federation, we became very aware of his tricks...and JFNA just didn't care.