Tuesday, November 18, 2014


There is a post-GA or pre-GA or a constant at JFNA -- confusion...total confusion compounded by another missive "From the Desk of Jerry Silverman" post-GA.

What am I talking about? Pay attention, if you please...forget the constant misuse of numbers -- 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 -- we all know that these numbers are always...always...just made up to rationalize failure after failure. Just pay attention to this -- Jerry's hallucinatory summary of the GA (he may have been at another conference after all):
Innovation and Collaboration at the 2014 GA
November 17, 2014
Dear Friends,
It’s hard to believe that only one week ago, 3,000 lay and professional leaders from Federations around the continent, as well as representatives from every corner of the Jewish world, were gathered at the General Assembly (GA), awaiting special addresses by United States Vice President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Under the banner “The World is Our Backyard,” we came together just outside Washington, DC for three days of learning from experts, sharing success stories and celebrating Federation’s unparalleled ability to touch more Jewish lives than any organization on the planet.

Many of you flocked to FEDovation sessions, which showcased more than 50 of the most groundbreaking Federation programs this year, from new approaches to education, Israel and communal engagement for Millennials to the latest fundraising strategies that are invigorating Annual Campaigns. As Michael Siegal, chair of JFNA’s board of trustees, reminded us, “Many of the most innovative Jewish communal programs today started as pilots either created or embraced by Federation.” Together, we are working to foster further idea- and resource-sharing, both online and through in-person skill exchanges.

This year, we introduced a smartphone app that enabled all participants to communicate in real time throughout the conference. One user remarked that the app made the GA feel like an “intimate gathering among close friends.” According to app users, GA high points included an address from actress and activist Marlee Matlin, who emphasized how crucial inclusion of Jews with disabilities is in creating a truly accessible Jewish community, and the commemoration of Veterans and Remembrance Day, led by five distinguished Jewish military chaplains from the U.S. and Canada.

From our global backyard, Jews from Ukraine, France and Israel reinforced the importance of Federation and our partner agencies’ support as rising anti-Semitism and anti-Israel actions threaten Jews around the world, and Holocaust survivor Nesse Godin reminded us never to forget our past as we forge ahead to the future.

Likewise, Vice President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuaffirmed the strength of the historic American-Israeli partnership, especially against continued unrest in the region and the looming threat of a nuclear Iran.

In the words of our Federation leaders, this year’s GA was “thoughtful,” “meaningful,” and “full with love and appreciation for the Jewish People.” Relive your favorite moments and share them with friends and colleagues with our multimedia Video and Press pages."
BTW, I won't accept for a moment a reference to a Holocaust survivor's vivid reminder "never to forget our past as we forge ahead..." from someone who has partnered in the erasure of our institutional history. "Innovation and Collaboration" indeed.

Then, reflect on the reality that not one specific takeaway, not a single "FEDovation" is offered. Then hit the "Video" link above and watch the 4 minute clip from CEO Jerry's address to the 3,000 (I would add..."or so" if 1,500 were close to 3,000). Listen/observe the use of the "royal we" and readily realize, as I did, that there is not a single reference to a single thing JFNA, itself, did. "We" is really you..and all that "you" did you did without one bit of assistance from JFNA even as you paid $30 million to JFNA to do something for "you." (Oh, and one of the FOB's suggested that we all turn off the audio and just watch CEO Look-At-Me gesticulate wildly [and inappropriately]. It's damn good.) 

And, why couldn't CEO I'll-Take-Credit-For-What-You-Did reference anything that JFNA had done for you other than organize a series of small Solidarity Missions -- because JFNA, under this leadership, didn't help you much if at all.


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