Wednesday, October 8, 2014


As GA 2014 approaches, just one month away, a revisit is appropriate -- and it's not good:

  • The list of Speakers has been expanded. Beyond the liberal justices of the Supreme Court and some talking heads from MSNBC and NBC, added are a few TED speakers and a whole bunch of consultants. There is the LA Federation Campaign Chair and the usual JFNA/GA lay and professional leaders (?!) including "Mr. Federation: Jerry Silverman"...
  • But, who won't be  here  The Prime Minister, the President, the Vice President or any Federation CEOs.
  • The thing is still being held miles from the "District" in a land far, far away called "National Harbor" but you can count on buses to a Smithsonian Event and an expensive taxi ride if you want to spend your free time (of which there will be time aplenty) seeing some D.C. sites or visit with your Senator.
  • The Program has some moments of excellent potential and good take-away as well -- but here we are, about one month from the GA Opening and there is no meat on any of the bones -- who are the presenters, who are the panelists? We are apparently not to know. But all else pales in comparison with the total lack of focus of this GA on the experiences of our People over the past months -- experiences that are so vivid, even CEO Jerry can't get them (or his supposed "role" in them [ask those who heard his "me-me-I-I" speech at their Conference) out of his mind. I remember vividly that on the cusp of the 2006 General Assembly in Los Angeles, the CEOs demanded that the GA be totally refocused on our communal relationship to Israel; a reset we need so desperately once again. But the CEOs appear to either have run out of steam or interest. A great philanthropist was lost when she resigned her GA leadership role in protest 8 years ago -- today we won't run that risk and our present leadership just doesn't give a damn,  all in proof that JFNA leaders have not only wiped out institutional memory of the UJA/CJF eras but of its own more recent past as well - Santayana weeps.
  • If you are a JFNA Board member, at the end of last month you received an inquiry as to whether you would be attending all, two or none of three GA "convenings" ("convening" as a noun, really?). Apparently JFNA doesn't yet have sufficient registration as at October 1 to know who is coming. This could be, maybe even deserves to be, a disaster. One thing is for sure -- after seeking your input, literally pleading for it, the GA Program reflects nothing more than bad business as usual. 
  • Then, but days after the first "Survey," came another -- "We need your help. Answer a few questions for a chance to win an IPhone 6." The questions: check off the break-outs you might attend; and, another listicle, check-off your top break-out choices. The purpose -- we need some idea of the size rooms we will need to accommodate the throngs. The problem: not one of the multiple choices involved Israel, Western European anti-semitism or the Ukraine, among other  critical issues facing us; and session-after-session involving foundations and groups outside our system. Nope, we are just trying to see the size meeting rooms we'll need. Idiocy.
Look, I still encourage you to go, make your voices heard, demand that JFNA start to actually make a difference rather than continuing to pretend that it does.



Anonymous said...

You forgot the "exciting" program for Cabinet alumni -- an evening hosted by Rep. Ted Deutsch on the Hill. I am sure the Congressman is a fine man.

Anonymous said...

He may also have been a cabinet member.He was definitely in his young leadership group of his local federation, one of the largest federations.

Anonymous said...

...And Ted's wife Jill is a graduate of the Baltimore Institute of Jewish communal service and was a sterling large city Federation staff professional!

Anonymous said...

You ever smell flop sweat? That's what I am smelling every time I get another promo about the GA and realize that it's all the same -- it's all about JFNA and what JFNA thinks it does for us at the federations and the Jewish People when it is doing far less than its predecessors and our campaigns are flatlined, our donors are fewer and fewer and engagement is not to be found.

Get rid of the bunch of 'em.

Anonymous said...

If you can't run a successful circus, how do you run a successful GA? These leaders are in some kind of bubble where they neither hear nor, certainly, tolerate, any criticism -- so why even try to make things better?