Saturday, October 25, 2014


An astute, albeit Anonymous, Commentator, responding to the articulated need for a system Reset, wrote:
"Richard with all due respect for your passion and deep conviction, and to your loyal followers and even to those who lead (lay and pro) the current establishment (JFNA & federations);

JFNA and the federations (as a whole) face the same challenge. By definition these are strategic challenges. Who are we? Are we what we were a generation ago? What do we do that is special and that the marketplace values? What governance and professional capacities do we need to be successful?

For instance: Are federations simply communal (whatever that means) fundraisers?
 Is JFNA a trade association or a catalyst in its own right.

There is nothing earth shattering about these questions and they've been raised by many, many others over the past decade plus.

What you and your readers are banging their heads against the wall about is elusive. For this to work there must be a critical mass of federations (and within the federation, of community leadership etc) who are marching to one beat and in one direction. We do it somewhat in emergencies. But absent crisis, this critical mass seems unachievable. Too much arrogance, certainty, undermining. It's hard to compromise. It's hard to yield when you have the right of way to do it your way. It might be best for your car (though in the long term I doubt it, but for that trip, perhaps), but it's not best for all cars and for traffic flow.

Our current systems, at the local federation level and at JFNA, are simply not built for what the systems (local and national) actually need to thrive. The marketplace is telling us year-after-year that our product is not compelling. (By the way, that's not just in the federation business but to a large extent within institutional Judaism.) Absent the right conditions, expect more of the same."
This Comment is spot on. In fact, writing with Washington's Norm Goldstein at the outset of the Manning "administration," we raised the exact questions (and more) for discussion by Manning and her incoming leadership. It became clear immediately that these questions were never discussed, that this leadership, sadly either was not prepared to discuss them or to expose them to a wider leadership audience -- certainly Silverman never has understood the questions so how could he even enter the discussion?

While certainly a discussion among federation leaders of what kind of JFNA they want, what its purposes might be, the evidence from one prior exposure of JFNA leaders to federations wants and needs suggests that discussion might be futile. For before the Global Planning Table went into full so-called "planning mode," JFNA conducted a series of regional meetings. At each, federation leaders from communities large and small challenged and rejected the very process and programs that would emerge as the current product. How stupid do they think we are? Very, very stupid.

The writer has set forth the basis for a discussion -- who at JFNA will move a real discussion forward that might...might...give JFNA purpose and relevance? Another rhetorical question.


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