Sunday, July 27, 2014


We all multi-task in our lives, our work. We try to handle as well as we can the many challenges of a life well spent: family, work, Jewish life and so much more. We see the best of our federations confronting the multiple challenges of a declining donor base, weakened annual campaigns, and, too often, the root issue of the abandonment of principle. Then there is JFNA...yes, then, there is JFNA.

Remember the Ukraine crisis? It's in the papers every day, side-by-side with the stories of Israel's battles against the Hamas terrorists. Remember when JFNA sent a letter to the federations requesting funding to assist our partners serving the Jewish communities of the Ukraine? Remember when JFNA created an Ukraine Emergency Allocations Committee with two outstanding and serious Co-Chairs? Well, JFNA has moved on. Ukraine has been forgotten by JFNA. Understandably, our focus has turned to Israel and our extended family there; but, need the Ukraine have been as forgotten as it has been? Fortunately, the Jewish Agency and JDC are on the ground doing their life-saving work. They will no doubt be forced to engage in their own FRD.

A responsible Continental organization would be reminding us of the totality of our responsibilities; it wouldn't abandon one for another. But JFNA has. Certainly the war being fought by Israel is the most vital crisis of our generations of Jews -- but with our capacity for love and assistance, we are not forced to choose between the Jewish population in Israel and the 360,000 to 400,000 Jews living in the Ukraine, are we? Yet, evidently JFNA has made that choice -- it has abandoned messaging the daily threats to the Jews of the Ukraine by "counting the days" of strife in Israel.

So, once again, JFNA fails to complete its task; once again, it has failed to reach the FRD "goal" it set for itself and for (and, it would claim, with) the federations. It just pivoted, turned its back on one threatened Jewish community just as it has with every FRD "goal" it has ever set for the past 8 years. And, yet...and, every turn we reward our professionals as if failure were success for at JFNA failure is success. If you disagree, then please point me to one FRD "success story" that JFNA has completed/delivered over the past 8 years...please, please do so. Now, with a goal for assisting our partners in the emergency work we have asked them to perform for the Jewish communities of the Ukraine abandoned...abandoned...the caravan moved on.

I could repeat my "shame on them, shame on us" mantra but there is no need. This organization is awash in shame, drowning in shame, and the lay leaders whom we elected take responsibility for this shameless operation appear to not care a whit...not one whit. Silverman, who knows no better, accompanied the Campaign Chairs and Directors Mission to Greece for whatever reason he had other than waving the bedraggled JFNA flag, when he might have accompanied JDC leadership on their critical mission to Kiev -- but no, I guess he needed to "Harlem Shake" his way through Athens. Then he did some good work in Israel, of course, while starting the blasphemous "Circle of the Fifteen Second Club." (Note to Siegal, if you can't bring yourself to do the right thing and refuse to renew his contract, could you at least get a muzzle, restricting his public utterances and writing to "yes" or "no?")

A meaningful and relevant organization would challenge us to meet our responsibilities wherever Jews are in need, wherever Jews are threatened -- but no one left at JFNA in New York or in Israel appears to know how to do so -- and after challenging us would offer case studies in how to do so. But not this crowd.  Instead, they attempt to remake the wheel every time and it's not a pretty sight to behold -- they flounder so badly every time and consequently too many federations which need Continental guidance flounder themselves without it. 

It's all such a mess and no one charged with the responsibility to do so is doing anything about it.



Anonymous said...

It's all a function of the JFNA lay and professional leaders not having a clue how to do anything.

Anonymous said...

This group hasn't just forgotten the Jewish communities of the Ukraine, they have forgotten their responsibilities altogether. It's the "shameless era" of Jewish communal life.

Anonymous said...

This lack of continental attention represents total malfeasance -- it's what I would call dereliction of duty.