Thursday, August 21, 2014


Apparently, when it comes to self-promotion, you can no longer shut Jerry Silverman up, you can only hope to contain him. His latest, in the Times of Israel:
"Though Silverman has personally seen a decrease in anti-Semitism on campuses over the past decade, 'the only information they’re getting is what they see in the media.' And the go-to sources for this age group are often Comedy Central, the echo chamber of like-minded thinking on social media.
'The awareness of what is taking place is really clear, the heroic measures of the IDF in stopping infiltrations — they’re heroes,' says Silverman, adding this awareness is shared not only by US Jewry, but 'all over the US the public is now understanding [Israel's plight].'
'You have terrorists coming out of the tunnels into backyards that are reaching kilometers into Israel' says Silverman." (emphasis added)
CEO I-Have-My-Blinders-On has an opinion on everything. What was the last campus he visited -- UCLA, Chicago Loyola, Vassar, Swarthmore, Michigan, MIT? But, that's not really the point -- this JFNA CEO who hardly understands the Federation condition, if at all, has an opinion (usually wrong) on everything...and anything, if it gets him some pub. I haven't seen the inside of Jerry's office but I wouldn't be surprised if there is a "me Wall" there. I truly think that Jerry Silverman has come to believe that he is the equal of Abe Foxman and Malcolm Hoenlein...and therein lies the problem. He isn't. Not close. Not even in the picture. Not even a footnote.

I first suggested putting a sock in it before the November 2013 GA when he decided to opine that the federations embark an a "1 Billion Dollar" Campaign for a free Jewish education for all -- a wonderful and noble concept, never discussed with anyone (other than perhaps Michael Siegal), without a prayer of success from an organization that has failed in every FRD effort on which it had/has embarked under this CEO. He has the ultimate responsibility for an Israel Emergency Fund that was first $10 million, then, almost immediately, $30 million and, with rockets still flying and our Jewish extended family at daily risk, clearly another "target" will be coming soon -- all evidence of a lack of thinking through a crisis.

What was at the beginning but a trickle -- his venture into farcical Gangnam Style Harlem Shaking on a Mission of 25 young people that he participated in because he had "promised" the Cabinet Mission leaders that he would go if they got 25 participants, his insistence to Large City Executives that the farce that is TribeFest continued for a third time "because the Young Leadership Cabinet demanded it" -- has become a torrent of torpidity. Jerry Where's-the-Press? is available for a quote on any Jewish subject, no doubt believing that "my name in the paper" somehow elevates JFNA. So, most recently, his trivializing proposed branding of a "Circle of the Fifteen Second Club" to "reward" those who participated in Solidarity Missions during the height of the terrorists' attacks on Israel, was an embarrassment beyond words...again. Then there are his unilateral decisions -- e.g., federations which exceed there pro rata "goal" for the Israel Emergency "Fund" (never a "Campaign" G-d forbid) may allocate directly wherever they see needs (not that these favored few wouldn't have done so in any event). The result -- federations  as at August 20, had raised over $36 million, but transmitted only $20 million (and much of that for designated programs of federations' choosing, not subject to JFNA allocation). And, then, his personal videos post-Solidarity Missions offering the same views on Jewish unity as expressed in the Times of Israel quote above.

(And, often, there is an embarrassing amount of humor. Example: during a Jewish Agency FRD Committee call this week, JA pros presented with regard to the 2015 JAFI Budget. The Jewish Agency International Development CEO spoke with regard to a horrid projected 2014 calendar year core allocation from JFNA at $87.5 million. Jerry interrupted to ask where that JFNA allocation number came from. "You" was the response. Case closed.)

It should be clear after five years of Silverman that there is some difficulty in forming rational thoughts and expressing them. Take the Times of Israel quote above: what is the Jewish community's responsibility for informing college students so that they have the broad background to absorb and reject the daily infusion of misinformation and wild accusations of the Jon Stewarts? Apparently, from Silverman's perspective...none.

We have reached the level of farce -- maybe that's appropriate for a circus.



Anonymous said...

Early in the summer a story about an an American dentist suing British Airways for putting him on the wrong flight - when he tried to book a flight to Granada, Spain, he wound up in Grenada, the Caribbean island - caught the headlines for a few days.

In reading the story at the time, I thought of CEO Jerry.

We HAVE reached a level of farce and like in the circus we, the audience, keep begging for an encore.

We have only ourselves to blame for allowing this level of incompetence to continue.

Anonymous said...

I am afraid I must disagree with you. I spent two summers with my children at circus camp. The attention to detail, the amount of practice, the strategic planning of every step in each circus act is amazing to see. Comparing what is at JFNA to a circus is an insult to the circus.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading a succession of Silverman's published quotes -- and with each one my jaw drops further and further until it has now no place to go -- jet like Silverman. Guess he feels comfortable in his new self-assigned role -- "spokesman" for the Jewish People. That wouldn't be worth 1/10th of what he is paid even if he had something to say.

Anonymous said...

Never has so much been so wasted on so little.

Anonymous said...

No, two socks

Anonymous said...

Look, this is nothing more than a clothing salesman masquerading as the CEO and President of an organization that might be restored to respectability if not greatness were he gone. But we will probably never know because those with the power to make the changes that have to be made are silent. What has become of us?

Anonymous said...

Richard, You and your ilk can whine and moan and gnash your teeth all you want, meanwhile Jerry is, as they say, laughing all the way to the bank. It's like stealing, only legal.

Anonymous said...

You can complain about Jerry's ineffectiveness and being out of his 'element', and you would be right.
However, as one Anonymous has said, this is much more about the National Lay Leadership of JFNA.
Give Jerry credit: If JFNA Leadership is not complaining, why should he think he's not doing his job; let alone embarassing himself and JFNA?
This falls in the lap of the then Search Committee members and the current JFNA Leadership.
The more telling question is why none of them are speaking up.
They all seem to have conveniently forgotten the definition of Leadership.
They all should be ashamed of themselves and the communities they represent.

RWEX said...

Thanks for putting it so well.