A wonderful professional and I exchanged correspondence in which I told him that JFNA reminded me of the years in which I had a badly damaged knee, rubbing bone on bone. I described how I would wake every morning hoping that the pain would be gone. It never was -- until I had my knee replaced. I am certain that we need a major replacement at JFNA to ease that pain as well.
A terrific leader, who branched out into the publishing business before he passed away so recently, was extremely gracious taking the time to review the manuscript for a book I was hoping he would agree to publish. My book -- Judgment Fled: The Musings of a Wandering Jew -- is a collection of short, I had hoped funny fables and embellishments, most written as I sat at meetings of Jewish organizations across the globe. As my friend told me: "very funny, very Jewish, but way too 'inside the Beltway,'" as it were.
So, I am returning to the drafting table. There will still be some fables mixed in, but the focus of this attempt will be to find expression of my encounters with Israel and the Jewish People over the past 45 years -- some of the drama, the great joy and the great reward of often being part of Modern Jewish History, often being an observer, Zelig-like, of many of the great events in the Modern History of our People up close.
So as to find the time for this very personal effort, I wish, as do many of you, to finally put an end to the Blog. I still await the glorious day when I will do so even as I have desperately wanted to do so ever since I wrote the first of these now 1300+ Posts in despair, from the beginning right through today, at the escalating collapse of not just our national organization but of so many of the federations which own it. I have, with my normal impatience and cynicism, waited since Post 1 through this Post for the best lay and professional leaders to stand up and shout, as Charles Bronfman once shouted at me, "enough, enough of this." But all I have heard has been friends and even strangers telling me "...enough. Stop the Blog. It has done no good." Yada Yada Yada. Opposition to the mediocrity and worse that I believe that we have surrounded ourselves, calling it "good," against all evidence to the contrary has truly confused and pained me 24/7. My opposition to the peeling away of our history, hopes and dreams by the incompetence of the leaders, lay and professional, over the past decade has been deemed contemptible often even by leaders I have loved and respected -- yes, they, too, though unnamed, know exactly whom they are.
But I would just ask that you, my readers, federation leaders, Cabinet Members, Women's Philanthropy leaders, JFNA Board members, Federation CEOs and professionals who read this/these Post/s to just think what a difference JFNA could have made in the lives of those of our People most in need wherever they may live with the almost $650,000,000 that have flowed through the institution's fingers over the sad lifetime of JFNA in "Dues without the expectation of Return." If the reality of the waste that we have permitted to take place at our continental organization isn't enough for leaders around the country to scream "enough, no more," than nothing ever will be. Just ask yourselves the simple question: what has been the "value-added" of JFNA to our federations, our donors?
There has been a need for positive lay leader intervention at JFNA for almost 10 years. We have witnessed over that span two Board Chairs from small communities (nothing wrong with that) and another with no leadership background in our continental system; sadly, none of whom appeared to understand or care or wish to learn about the federations themselves -- not about their needs, not about their wants. They did care about JFNA -- and about empowering JFNA -- but not knowing how to do so, they tried to do so at the expense of the federations and the system's partners. When they spoke of "our team," it was about them, and only them.
Then Board Chair Manning engineered the hiring of Jerry Silverman, whose major qualifying criterion for CEO (other than "what an interview?) apparently was that he knew less about the federations than she. And, looking back, if Manning's sole accomplishment was hiring CEO Jerry, what has been Jerry's seminal accomplishment...being hired?
The fiasco, the Fugazi, that is JFNA, to me is and has been a very personal challenge -- as I feel it should be to all of us. I am reminded of the late, esteemed Dean Smith, not alone one of the greatest Coaches but, as well, an incredible leader in all areas, a teacher, a civil rights pioneer, who said: "There is a point in every contest when sitting on the sidelines is not an option." Yet, women and men who have led and do lead their federations to glory seem to view their positions at JFNA as some sort of honorarium, thereby leaving the work of leading JFNA to and through change to others while closing their eyes to the continuing collapse of the very organization that needs their demand for change so desperately.
Reading about solutions to the cancer that has invaded and destroyed the body of FIFA -- soccer's governing body -- one expert wrote: "Top-down change is needed to reform a broken system." Friends, our system is broken; its leaders are like alcoholics who refuse to acknowledge that they are addicted -- until they do so, there is no hope for change. So everyone evades responsibility and the sense is that "all is well." Anyone believing that to be the case is, quite frankly, delusional. I do not believe that Richard Sandler is delusional.
Want the Blog to stop? Then do something. Finally, please, do something.