When the horrific earthquake struck Nepal, JFNA was quick to act as only it doesn't -- it set up a Mailbox, and asked for donations. Then it promoted that Mailbox/"Fund" in an almost daily barrage of information about what others were doing -- mainly the Government of Israel (which, to our knowledge, receives no funding from "us") and the JDC, the former doing incredible work on the ground; the latter mainly distributing funds to the main actors in the Ukraine. We not only heard from Jerry "Show-Me-A-Disaster-And-I'll-Show-You-A-Mailbox" supplemented by a strange Memo from Becky "She of Two Titles" Caspi which implied that the funds from this Mailbox made the GOI's and Joint's and Chabad's (!!) work in Nepal possible. Add to the mailings a conference call, constant references to what others are actually doing in FedWorld and, wow, are we ever great. (BTW, the funds in this Mailbox are merely transmitted directly to the Joint, which has its own Mailbox.)
I counted 4 separate alerts from JFNA on Nepal in a single afternoon on April 28. Maybe JFNA will send a Solidarity Mission to Kathmandu.
Compare and contrast this JFNA all hands on effort for Nepalese Relief with the same organization's woeful efforts on behalf of the Jews of the Ukraine* or with regard to the terrorists' killing of Jews in France -- and, the best one can say, is that this was all the sadder. This reality tells the tale of an organization that has no priorities, promoting its lack of accomplishments as successes. Hey, I know these Funds, these Mailboxes, promote "the Brand," but to what end? We are raising no real money -- not for Ukrainian Jewry, not for the security of Western European Jewry, not for the Nepalese, not for anybody.
Sure, I, like you, believe that our efforts on behalf of non-Jews during emergencies are noble, ennobling and consistent with our traditions as embodied in tikkun olam but we see in this work for Nepalese relief no real effort at all. We open a Mailbox; is this truly "effort"? This is part of the "rinse/repeat" cycle at JFNA under Silverman; there's no there there. JFNA gives the impression that it has dropped everything for Nepalese relief -- not even the Red Cross does that.
Friends, while all of this was happening -- or, actually, not happening -- Prime Minister Netanyahu, in his last minute "successful" attempts to form a governing coalition was handing Ministries critical to the Diaspora, to us, to Shas, and walking back commitments to ease conversion rules in Israel pursuant to Knesset legislation in the P.M.'s effort to bring ultra-Orthodox parties into his new government. These moves may significantly impact on North American Jewry in ways that we cannot today predict and, yet, JFNA -- so engaged in its Mailbox approach to FRD; this time for Nepalese relief -- has no time to determine what the position of the North American Jewish polity should be and to articulate it. Instead, JFNA sort of reported on the coalition building in the oh-so-self-important FedWorld ("the most important news affecting the Jewish world" -- uh huh) by merely linking (once?) to media reports but apparently finding no cause for concern...none. With this group, events have to overtake them before they are even aware of them.
The question that should be asked, never is: "Where in the world is JFNA making a real difference?" Never is the predicate asked: "Where and how could JFNA make a real difference?" But, you can't ask any questions of substance, let alone find answers, if JFNA's leaders don't understand (and haven't even tried to understand) the federation ethos -- and they don't understand that ethos at all; they just don't get it. Opening a Mailbox/Fund may be part of it, but to JFNA it is all of it.
* It should be noted that one day after the out-pouring of JFNA alerts on Nepal relief, Michael Siegal announced that JFNA will convene a Solidarity Mission to the Ukraine. I would say better late than never but, when the federations have raised only $4 million (and, perhaps, some more on the way, but nowhere...nowhere...near the $5 million JFNA recently claimed) to assist our partners in their efforts in Ukraine (and, strangely, consider that failure a success), it's more like anything is better than nothing. In the dictionary this feeble effort appears under the definition of "a day late and a dollar short."