Let's start 2015 with a few updates:
1. For those of you who believe that JFNA is bound by federal reporting requirements, consider the Instructions for filing the IRS 990:
Hello!! The JFNA fiscal year ended on June 30, 2014 (I am talking about 2013-2014) . Yet, JFNA has yet to file its 990 for the 2013-2014 fiscal year -- on its website remains the 2012 990 - that 990 was for the fiscal year that ended on June 30,2013 -- 1 and 1/2 years ago. Yes, JFNA may have sought an extension but, if so, who knows about it and who knows what JFNA is trying to hide?File Form 990 by the 15th day of the 5th month after the organization's accounting period ends (May 15th for a calendar-year filer). If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, file on the next business day. A business day is any day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.
2. A FOB sent me this: a friend was interested in joining a national Singles Mission, like the ones that UJA ran annually. Checking with JFNA and his federation, they had either never heard of such a thing and certainly had none on the Calendar. Then the friend went to the Jewish National Fund --http://www.jnf.org/travel/missions/singles-trip.html . And, that JNF Mission is headed to Israel. No doubt JFNA will create one headed to Shanghai.
3. Who among all of us knows of Thompson Habib and Denison? No, it's not an obscure law firm; it's a Boston-based FRD Consultant. JFNA hired that firm and in 2012 paid it $162,000 to apparently raise about $684,778. I don't know who authorized this hire and for what purpose but I can tell you that if my federation or yours had a cost of fund raising of 23%, heads would roll. At JFNA, where no one is accountable, that's just fine.
4. While the JFNA leadership was no doubt still patting themselves on the back, they no doubt were caught mid-clap by the op-ed in ejewishphilanthropy on December 1 -- Fear, Fearlessness, and Forward Thinking -- written by "a Jewish professional living in Brooklyn" and a Wexner Graduate Fellow, Naomi Adland. I won't paraphrase this superb and incisive coda to those whose highest praise for this GA that I heard was "the Plenaries were well-organized and managed." Read the entire article at http://ejewishphilanthropy.com/fear-fearlessness-and-forward-thinking. I perceive the author as what should have been JFNA's audience -- maybe they will invite her to the next Festivus.
Given the self-congratulatory "wasn't our GA great" added to "wasn't our TribeFest great" added to " wasn't our (fill in the blank) great," I call your attention to a tremendous and relevant cartoon in the December 8 The New Yorker. Picture this: a king, bow in hand, a quiver filled with arrows over his shoulder is examining a wall with many arrows stuck therein at random and a serf painting a target centered on each mis-aimed arrow." In our era...it's JFNA of course.
5. I was mourning the University of Michigan's annual loss to The Ohio State University when Michigan announced that its pathetic football Coach who, after four years, had a winning record, was fired. That happened shortly after the University of Nebraska fired Bo Pelini, its football Coach, after years of success, averaging 9 wins per season. Both were let go because they hadn't done well enough. Both came to these universities well-schooled in coaching, in the training of men, in building football programs elsewhere. Of course, those terminations caused me to reflect on the extension of Jerry Silverman's contract after five years with no victories...none, not one winning "season' in five. My opinion is that those who participated in the decision to grant this CEO more years because they just could;t be bothered to search out and engage a truly visionary, experienced leader breached their fiduciary duty to the federations and to our donors.