I am a dinosaur. I admit it. I consider my status self-evident; I wear that status on my sleeve with pride. I believe in the ideal; I believe that our organizations should have standards and maintain them. And I observe with great disappointment as our Continental organization, the dismal JFNA, has essentially lowered the bar as to all things that are within the definition, or at least what was the definition, of "leadership."
Recent "appointments" to leadership of critical JFNA constituencies have contributed to my strong sense of angst. I won't name names and, certainly, constituencies are entitled to select their own leaders...but, c'mon now. And I am certain that the chosen leaders for the two most critical constituencies are wonderful women and men, truly committed Jews...but, really.
JFNA ought to just state explicitly and on the record that "we just don't care about allocations any more" -- in fact, its leaders have demonstrably not cared for a decade. When your most major constituencies' leaders come from communities whose allocations are an insult to the core concept of collective responsibility, these appointments demean the organization on whose leaderships councils they will now serve.
What these appointments mean is that women and men from communities which represent the lowest common denominators of our system have reached the highest levels of leadership of JFNA -- an organization totally bereft of any evident standards for its highest (or any) positions. One of these newly appointed Chairs comes from a community that by name and philosophy has "defederated" even as it still pays its JFNA dues....its allocations to Israel and overseas needs in any other era would be considered a joke. Another comes from a community which has such an minuscule allocation to those same needs that in any era would be considered to be unworthy of a community whose leaders serve in any leadership capacity in our Continental entity. But today...not only "step right up" but join our most inside leadership group -- the unauthorized by any governance JFNA "Coordinating Council!!"
When your organization has no standards for its own leadership, it is a reflection of the umbrella organization's lack of purpose, of failing to understand what its role was designed to be in Continental Jewish life. And as JFNA is totally lost, why should its constituencies be any different? Why should we expect the federations to reflect our stated purposes when those at JFNA evidence none? Or do I have this "formula" upside down? Why should the parent organization have any purpose beyond self-preservation when the federations themselves have none?
Our organizations wander aimlessly in the wilderness and have no clue just why or where. But we do.