Friday, April 3, 2015

THE PATHETIC NOW

1. JFNA's leaders found their voice. Almost a miracle. Urging "...Caution and Congressional Review of Any Iran Deal" Mssrs. Siegal and Silverman within hours of the announcement of a preliminary framework and, certainly, without having read it, called it a "weak deal."
Maybe they didn't know that JFNA's entity for this purpose, United Against a Nuclear Iran, became the first NGO to acclaim this framework, in the NYT.  They have found their voice, now they have to use it properly.

2. It's been over one year since the brilliant leaders of JFNA filed its Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service. Even then, the 2012 -- yes, that's 2012 -- 990 covered the 2012-2013 fiscal year so the filing that is long past due (we'll assume that JFNA filed the requisite extensions) will cover FY 2013-2014 so the info will be over one year stale. Inasmuch as JFNA has already filed the 2013 990 for its UIA subsidiary, one has to ask: what are JFNA's leaders hoping to hide?

3. We reported months ago that JFNA had entered into a consulting agreement with Max Kleinman immediately after Max's retirement as the long-time CEO of the MetroWest Federation. His job: ferret out funding for the underfunded unfunded Global Planning Table "Strategic Initiatives" and, specifically, the "Israel Children's Zone." The deadline for that funding was set as March 31, 2015. Max didn't/couldn't come close; so, of course, the deadline will be extended perhaps to infinity and beyond. What does this say about the present/future of the futile Global Planning Table? What does this have to say about Max Kleinman's consulting position?

4. JFNA's Board Chair and CEO have been trolling around for successors to the Chair of the JFNA Budget and Finance Committee (and here we thought that Steve Silverman had been named Chair of that farcical effort for life) and for a new National Campaign Chair for the non-existent National Campaign. We know of at least one Federation leader who turned down the Budget chairmanship for the farce that the budget "process" has become. And what about the number of leaders who have been asked so far to become the National Campaign Chair, a position devoid of meaningful staff or purpose. Deck chairs on the Titanic? Time will tell.

5. Perhaps it is just as well that JFNA decided to rid itself (as of November 2015) of the claque that serves as its Executive Committee (and I should note that it is not just the claque that is going -- that would have been sufficient -- it is the Executive Committee itself). The last meeting of that august body was apparently and totally devoid of anything other than self-serving reports and an "orgy of self-congratulations and self-aggrandizing reports." Instead of hard questions being asked about anything...anything at all...there was only heard the sounds of arms breaking while patting themselves on their respective backs. Ouch.

6. And Finally. On the eve of every Pesach holiday from the first days of my involvement in federation through the UJA, I received (and sometimes sent) a message in keeping with the spirit of our Holiday of freedom and Peoplehood. We tried to inspire our donors and we were challenged to do ever more as we were all together at Sinai. And then there came the Pesach message of 2015 from Jerry Silverman -- A Passover Message. It was well meant, no doubt, but thereafter it was suffused with fear: we don't watch the door for Elijah, we fear who else might be coming in; we tell Jews in Europe and the Ukraine that "we haven't forgotten you" when our actions (a single Solidarity Mission of three days in Paris, a paltry $2.5 million raised to help our extended Jewish family in the Ukraine [which Silverman inflated to a paltry $4 million only days after Michael Siegal disclosed the lower amount]; an overstatement of the value of the Secure Community Network to European communities which have had their own Jewish Security instrument in place longer than the SCN)...when our actions say "we have forgotten you except on occasions like this."  I have to admit that when I first read this thing I thought "it's April1 -- maybe Jerry sent this as a cruel April Fool's Day joke." And to our eternal prayer at Seder's end "Next Year in Jerusalem" was added "Or Paris. Or Kiev. Or wherever Jews choose to live." The letter was a pathetic conflation of misinformation and bloviation devoid of any inspiration, meaning or understanding. So terribly sad; so terribly Jerry. In the alternative, you might read Aliza Gershon's, now the Executive Director Tzav Pius, an Israeli non-profit, whose message of Jewish unity and how to achieve it in ejewishphilanthropy was especially meaningful. http://ejewishphilanthropy.com/building-a-united-israel-more-important-today/

Friends, I wish you and your families and loved ones a Chag Pesach sameach. May we all draw inspiration from the great story of the march from slavery to th emergence of the Jewish People and from being together at Sinai.

Rwexler





4 comments:

Anonymous said...

1. The JFNA has no voice on the Iranian deal because the federations it serves have no voice and no role. Federations have zero political clout (70 Daroff WH visits + Silverman's 12 that have achieved ?? are but samples of this), and zero political advocacy mechanisms or expertise. JFNA can issue all the statements it wants. Zero influence.

1a. What's with Daroff banging his own chest on Facebook about being the #1 Jewish White House visitor? His modesty is such that he explains that two Jews that had more visits (Saperstein and Diament) didn't count as they serve on an Obama's faith-based council.
All self promotional, Potomac fever perception building with little to show that's commensurate with the expenditure + visit frequency.
I don't see any chest banging from AIPAC, which actually can demonstrate what it does with the legislative and executive branches.

2. Regarding Max Kleinman. Exceptional professional who's served with distinction. But even Max can't sell that which has no market. This isn't about how good of a salesperson we have. The GPT may or may not have been a good idea. But the concept wasn't developed with genuine buy-in and commitment from federations. So it stands to reason that proposals emanating from the GPT (after years of tortuous deliberations) would land poorly. Tranquility Bay to Houston -- the federations aren't bought in. Time to move on.

3. Our system is without a focus and apparently incapable of developing one and pursuing it relentlessly. European Jewry is smoldering if not on fire (in a few countries, it's a five-alarm). Holocaust survivors are hungry and living in squalor (even in Israel!). And the Jewish future? How's that looking? These are three major opportunity areas that are begging for focus and collective action.

Let's hope our federation system finds the afikomen this year. We won't find it unless we actively look.

Zissen Pesach to all.

Anonymous said...

1. The JFNA has no voice on the Iranian deal because the federations it serves have no voice and no role. Federations have zero political clout (70 Daroff WH visits + Silverman's 12 that have achieved ?? are but samples of this), and zero political advocacy mechanisms or expertise. JFNA can issue all the statements it wants. Zero influence.

1a. What's with Daroff banging his own chest on Facebook about being the #1 Jewish White House visitor? His modesty is such that he explains that two Jews that had more visits (Saperstein and Diament) didn't count as they serve on an Obama's faith-based council.
All self promotional, Potomac fever perception building with little to show that's commensurate with the expenditure + visit frequency.
I don't see any chest banging from AIPAC, which actually can demonstrate what it does with the legislative and executive branches.

2. Regarding Max Kleinman. Exceptional professional who's served with distinction. But even Max can't sell that which has no market. This isn't about how good of a salesperson we have. The GPT may or may not have been a good idea. But the concept wasn't developed with genuine buy-in and commitment from federations. So it stands to reason that proposals emanating from the GPT (after years of tortuous deliberations) would land poorly. Tranquility Bay to Houston -- the federations aren't bought in. Time to move on.

3. Our system is without a focus and apparently incapable of developing one and pursuing it relentlessly. European Jewry is smoldering if not on fire (in a few countries, it's a five-alarm). Holocaust survivors are hungry and living in squalor (even in Israel!). And the Jewish future? How's that looking? These are three major opportunity areas that are begging for focus and collective action.

Let's hope our federation system finds the afikomen this year. We won't find it unless we actively look.

Zissen Pesach to all.

Anonymous said...

Richard: Chag Sameach to you, your family, and your devoted readers!
Regarding Max Kleinman, unfortunately, everyone, including Max, I suspect, knew that his position was a non-starter....but hey, Jerry was going to pay him, so why not take it?
Regarding Anon's Point #3, Wouldn't it be nice (can't expect anything inspirational..the bar is so low) if JFNA would identify just one of the three issues that we are facing?
And, regarding finding the Afkikomen, at least we know where not to look: 25 Broadway.

RWEX said...

Amen.