Saturday, July 12, 2014


Of course JFNA meant well, don't they always?

First, you probably do not remember, but Kathy Manning, during her JFNA Chair-ship, in a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, out of nowhere, advised the incredulous PM that in the event of a crisis like the one Israel faces now, JFNA had a plan and Israel could "count on us" -- kind of like the President advising Israel "we have your back." In fact, as the events of this month have demonstrated, JFNA, as always, had no plan...and now finds itself racing to get ahead of events. That incredulity is now ours.

Last week the JFNA Executive Committee met and authorized a $10,000,000 initial Israel Emergency Fund (G-d forbid, don't call it a "campaign") to aid the victims of terror  in Israel. Having done so, JFNA then contented itself with periodic reports from Jerusalem and a "Solidarity Mission" led by Dede Feinberg with, at most, 7 lay leaders participating. (Makes one ask: was this about Israel or was it about JFNA?)

So, they meant well. But the results? You be the judge:

  • Some communities, like mine, understanding that $10,000,000 is but a drop in the bucket of potential need, were able to advance their "share" (out of endowment or otherwise) letting donors know that when the need is ultimately determined they will be asked to participate. Then there are the federations who seem to know no better, who convened their most major donors and asked for a total of, e.g., $250,000 seemingly unknowing  because JFNA gave them no instructions that far, far more will be needed. These are federations that have forgotten, like JFNA itself, how to raise money. 
  • As one experienced leader wrote us: "it’s very interesting that on one hand they have no process for other campaigns that were either ill-advised or downright silly but for a real emergency they go thru this process for pocket change. With major leaders on the ground – CCD mission, solidarity mission etc – it seems to me they would have been much better off trying to see what they could raise on the ground and use that as leverage to build a much greater effort." Exactly.
  • Then JFNA prepared a generic letter for Federations to fill in with local info about an Israel Emergency Fund. Some federations have dutifully sent the letter out to all donors. Let's say you are a $10,000 donor and get this letter; you send a check for $500. As the crisis deepens, more is needed, and this donor gets another letter (or, even, a phone call) with another ask. Guess what? That donor is going to say: "what's with you people? I already gave." Don't call JFNA; they don't know what they are doing any more than you do. 
Friends, a crisis requires thought and planning...but no. Not at JFNA where there should have been a plan, but never is.

No thought + no thinking = chaos. Business as usual at JFNA.



Anonymous said...

If you read the Michael Siegal transmission carefully, the $10 million covers "the next two weeks" -- how JFNA came up with $10 million for 2 weeks, we don't know and neither do they. It's all done on the run. It all makes no sense -- why not $20 million, why not $50 million, why not $5 million? Then, the generic letter has no "goal" in it. As you wrote, it's so JFNAA

Anonymous said...

Following Shabbat JFNA distributed their day five update from Jerusalem. If you weren't fortunate to receive it the up is posted below. It is typical of JFNA that there is no mention of the $10 mil promised and no place does it ask for money or suggest ways that readers can help short of attending a solidarity mission that you pointed out has less than 10 lay leaders.

Day 5: Update on Operation Protective Edge and Federation Response
July 12, 2014

Dear Friends,
As Shabbat ends, we bring you this brief update of latest events in Israel. As many of you know, Shabbat in Israel is always a special experience. However, this Shabbat was spent alert to the possibility of rockets falling at any moment. The concern followed every citizen of Israel in every activity and wherever they went.
Over Shabbat, we had to run to shelters once here in Jerusalem. Across the country, people have been using their shelters consistently for the past five days. And now, with the increased scope of the rockets and the added threat of attacks from the north, no Israeli is free from this threat.
As I walked back to our hotel from the Western Wall with the CCD Mission on Friday night, we were inspired as we bumped in to four different Birthright groups. There are currently 3,600 Birthright participants in the country, and organizers are doing an excellent job at adjusting itineraries in light of the security situation, while still keeping the programs on track.
They are ensuring an inspirational experience for all, while still placing safety and security as the highest priority. We could sense the tremendous positive energy being generated in this transformational experience, and participants seemed to be minimally phased by the situation on the ground. We were all very moved, and highly impressed.
I hope the week ahead will bring peace and security to all of Israel.
Shavua Tov,
--Hamas has continued its rocket barrage against the country. Around 200 rockets have been fired at Israel since Friday morning
-- Both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem were targeted throughout Shabbat as well as numerous other locations.
-- Rockets fired today soon after 7:.30 pm landed in Hebron and Bethlehem, predominantly Arab cities, Hebron has a population of 250,000 Palestinians; Bethlehem, 25,000 Palestinians.
-- Hamas announced, in advance, a barrage of rockets against the center of the country at 9 pm on Saturday night, and followed up with numerous rockets, on time, at Tel Aviv and other locations.
-- A rocket fired from Gaza earlier today fell short and landed on a UNRWA warehouse causing a large fire.
-- The IDF has been warning Gaza residents living near the border to leave their homes, presumably in advance of a possible ground offensive.
-- The IAF continues to target terror hubs in Gaza from the air.
-- Houses of Hamas leaders have been targeted
-- Weaponry and rocket launchers are located right next to a Gazan school
-- JFNA will be welcoming a solidarity mission to Israel, Sunday afternoon.
For more information: