Wednesday, November 12, 2014


The 2014 GA is history. Some thoughts and corrections:

1. My error -- next year's GA will be in Washington, but actually in the District, at the Washington Hilton. Why will it return to D.C.? Ask Siegal or Feinberg or Renee Rothstein.

2. Attendance. Well, it was bad. Nonetheless, once again, JFNA, by the end, was announcing their favorite fiction in numerical terms -- 3,000. Or, even, 4,000. Unfortunately for them, one of my guys noticed the fire safety card on the wall of the rooms of the Plenary -- "occupancy by more than 1,500 is prohibited by law." Lie about one thing, lie about almost anything and everything. UPDATE: A friend with knowledge of the facts advised me that the capacity of the 2 BALLROOMS is actually 2176 -- better than 1500, a lot less than 3,000 or 4,000.

3. Gestures. Apparently, CEO Jerry has been taken speech lessons. His address to the Plenary was characterized by insane gestures suggesting either over-coaching or a terrible case of Tourette's. Maybe it's an improvement.

4. Fed-O-Vation. Once again the branding iron has struck in the land of no institutional memory. You see, at least 25 years ago and longer, the predecessor organizations were offering what was/is known as "best practices" to the federations. In fact, so was JFNA. Some examples? 

  • Under the leadership of New York's fantastic lay leader, Ellen Korda Kroll, in the early 1990's the CJF Planning Department produced a set of best practices in Outreach to Intermarrieds -- maybe someone at 25 Broadway could find it. If not, I have a copy as I chaired the CJF Planning Committee then;
  • UJA in the 80s and 90s was producing annual best fund-raising practices and offering them to the federations. Those works are also available.
  • In the mid-Oughts JFNA Planned Giving and Endowment Department produced best practices for federations with separately incorporated foundations. While that best practice effort was squelched leading to the resignation of a terrific lay Chair of the Department, its results are probably  available unless Joe Imberman was directed to burn them.
So, call it what you will -- Federation, Shmedovation -- it's yesterday's and today's "best practices." An effective organization would have put them on-line, accessible with a keystroke. Not JFNA -- it pretends very old idea it rehashes and rebrands and calls it "new." 

Those few lay people who attended this GA and spoke with me generally thought it was set in recent memory. Damned with faint praise.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been to over a dozen GAs -- you're right this one was small, very small. But Rene or someone deserves credit for vast improvements. It was mostly about real Jewish community issues and actual Federation system work. I heard from a lot of other lay leaders that actually found the content helpful.