Thursday, July 10, 2014


Immediately after the San Antonio Spurs beat Miami's Heat for the NBA Championship, a story on that historic victory appeared in the Internation New York Times that began:
"In a corner of the San Antonio Spurs' locker room, there is a framed quotation from the muckraking social reformer Jacob Riis.                       
'When nothing seems to help, I go back and look at the stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet, at the one hundred and first blow it  will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it -- but all that had gone before.'"
I am not Jacob Riis, far, far from it, but I will continue to strive to create change.

When I began this Blog close to 2,000 Posts ago, I made this offer to those who read it: if I have made an error in anything I have written or will write, alert me and I will (a) apologize and (b) correct any error or misinformation. I have taken care to verify before publishing. Nonetheless, there remain those who read this Blog or who deny reading it but can't start their day without it, who read, know what I have written is true but who find comfort, somehow, by alleging to anyone within reading distance, that I am wrong, always wrong, terribly wrong. G-d bless 'em.Like this recent Comment to a Post on the vapidity of a new JFNA effort branded Yasod:

"I read these comments and am very upset. As someone who lives in a community that applied for this program, I see it as a great benefit to our system. I know that for Richard Wexler and the Chicago community, paying $350,000 for 20 participants in Wexner is merely a rounding error. For others, it's near impossible. The way I read this program is that it is not to take the place of Wexner (I understand that the Wexner Foundation staff was consulted about it). But it is a way for communities that want to focus on leadership development to do so in a high level (Dr. Erica Brown has designed the curriculum) way with low cost.

Will it succeed? Time will tell. But it is being promoted as a pilot to see if it can work. I find Richard Wexler's constant negativity about anything and everything new coming out of JFNA very spiteful and not useful. Give this one a chance. You may be surprised (but I expect you would not admit so)."
Oh me. Those who know me well know that this Blog has been written from Day One out of sadness and frustration not mendacity or malice with the continuing futility of an organization that has spent $650,000,000 of our donors' funds from which we have not seen one successful new program developed out of one compelling new idea. I leave it to you, dear readers, to read the Comments about which this anonymous Commentator complains and see what those who have looked carefully at Yasod think. And I leave it to you to determine whether all this Blog is and has been is "a barrage of hate-speak," as one of you put it, anonymously as expected.

The fact is that in all but two instances I have never heard from anyone, in name or anonymously, that what I have written has been misinformed or incorrect. There have been instances -- as in the case of the immediate Past Chair of the Board's outright denial that she had directed a GPT Committee not to use "Zionism" as "too controversial" when, in fact, she had done so -- where I have been attacked, by friend and foe alike, for printing the truth. And, from the start, I recognized that "protectors of the system" attacked me and this Blog for being written at all. What they wanted written and when was only what they wanted you to know. So often, they feared...well, the truth, transparency, governance and process. I understand that -- if a CEO, knowing what I have written was true, admits it, then shame on him or her for doing nothing about it, for sitting in silence and just letting whatever it may have been happen. So much easier to just deny it and go on. For others, hubris demands denial.

Many of you have written me over the years of failure after failure, dating back to long before this Blog began, pleading, demanding that I reach out to the CEOs who, if they were motivated to do so, could have effected the changes necessary to right the sinking ship. And, in candor, I did reach out, numerous times, without success. I am guilty of puncturing the fairy tale those in leadership of JFNA have tried to conjure; to many that has been a breach of trust, to others high treason. I started writing out of frustration with those in leadership who spread lies about me to deflect my private efforts to effect the transparency required of a Jewish charitable organization. I quickly discovered to my pain that friends were more easily convinced that I was wrong then they were to investigate whether the emperors' and empress's new clothes were nothing but fake. I learned that, contrary to the totality of my prior experiences in leadership in Jewish life, leaders were not interested in transparency, in dissent or in truth.

Yes, I exposed a failure of leadership to constrain the evisceration of JFNA Financial Resource Development, the myth of "consensus" leading to the creation of the Global Planning Table, the fictional attendance figures at a series of failed GAs, TribeFests, the collapse of per capita fund raising at the Young Leadership Cabinet, the abandonment of JAFI and JDC by JFNA, the breach of agreements entered into by JFNA before the ink dried, the futility of hiring CEOs (federation/JFNA) from so-called "outside the box" environments and the willingness, eagerness even of a variety of JFNA leaders to prevaricate if criticism got in the way of their narrative.

So, the next time you approach the CEO of your federation or JFNA or another lay leader and inquire about something you might have read on the Blog, and the person you have asked answers by telling you that "Wexler never gets it right" or some stronger term, do me a favor and ask: "Just what did he get wrong." And, if the answer is "everything," probe further. You will find that the answer should have been "nothing."

I hold the stonecutter's hammer in my hands.



Anonymous said...

Even those who disagree with your take on the facts (and facts are facts) will have to agree that you're consistent and dedicated. I've not seen another whistleblower in any community as determined as you.

Anonymous said...

That's probably because other whistle blowers can easily separate from what they are blowing the whistle about if they aren't successful in bring about change. In Richard's, who I have known for more than 2 decades, when he blows the whistle it is on his "family" and because he truly cares about bringing about positive change and most importantly because he feels deeply responsible about the organization and what it could mean to all of us. Thank you Richard.

Anonymous said...


Please, never give up speaking out for those of us whose voices have been stilled by our CEOs or Chairs. Never, never give up.