Monday, June 15, 2015


1.  The Incredible World of FedWorld. One astute observer of the world of JFNA wrote me:
"Take a look at a FedWorld email.  Do you see any way to sign up?  Or share information?  There are links to Facebook and Twitter, but those just go to the JFNA FB and Twitter pages (as they did on the Daily Media Report this "replaces"); there’s no capability to share these.  There’s also an email link that goes to the JFNA professional in charge of this.  You can forward it manually, but if someone gets a forwarded copy they still have to email someone to get on the list.  So apparently the desire to control who sees what and where overrode the ability to spread this thing virally—which I’m sure their provider knows how to do since it’s their business.  Birmingham, on the other hand, encourages readers to forward, subscribe, and share on social media.  As do JDC, NCSEJ, etc., etc.

So much for promoting Federations.  Or Federations’ fundraising.  Once again, they’re promoting JFNA to the Federations.  As if the content weren’t proof enough."
We now live in the virtual world of the know-nothings, wasting valuable time because they have nothing else to offer. And, we learned that JFNA is paying a vendor for this thing's meager distribution which may be a good idea given JFNA's lack of any apparent ability to do so -- but, that cost would not be necessary but for the actual existence of FedWorld. And, maybe that's just as well because the broader the circulation the more folks will know how much their precious funds are being dripped down the drain that is JFNA.

2. The IAN. We wrote recently of the work in Illinois and Tennessee in, respectively, statewide legislation and a legislative resolution combatting the pro-BDS attacks on Israel. I have learned that the Israel Action Network, the system's agent, played a significant role in both of those efforts and has more far-reaching legislative actions on its agenda on our behalf. Kal Ha'Kavod.

3. Lost and Found Division...Deborah K. Smith. Yes, Deborah Smith -- mystery consultant (at her compensation, one assumes [but does not know] that Deborah is full-time and, therefore, should be treated as an employee with full benefits or JFNA risks penalties), whether engaged in employment consulting or "Donor Management" (depending on which JFNA document you read at what time), unknown by face to so many of those at 25 Broadway -- has been found. From time-to-time she has been seen in Rochester, NY (!!) leading that community's search for a successor to Larry Fine who is retiring as CEO after decades of illustrious community-building and federation leadership. Apparently Ms. Smith once toiled in the vineyards of Rochester, teaching or otherwise, so she took advantage of the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and lead the focus groups, etc. of the Search process. How do I know this? My sister is a Past President of the Rochester federation and of its CRC; she remains very engaged with the community. She recently participated in one of Deborah K. Smith's focus groups; and, at a focus group later that day, one of my sister's friends asked, I think less than innocently, whether Deborah knew that "Roberta is Richard Wexler's brother?" As described to my sister, "Deborah visibly blanched, swallowed hard and proceeded." P.S. I understand she is doing an excellent job -- so scratch Deborah K. Smith off the missing persons list.

4. The "50 Most Influential Jews." Late last month, The Jerusalem Post published its annual "List." I found the List most interesting not for whom was on it -- it is an excellent List but for David Blatt, Coach of the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers (all of us know that that team's Coach is Lebron James)-- but for those not named. For there was no one from the Federation system and, further, no one from JFNA.

Out in LA, the relative importance of JFNA was highlighted in the Jewish Journal announcement of Richard Sandler's nomination as JFNA Chair-Designate when it placed that tidbit far beneath a story highlighted by a photo that included a Sophie Tucker impersonator.

5. That $6.1 Million. You won't recall -- but I do. On May 6, one and 1/2 months ago, the Board Chair directed Jerry Silverman, in writing, to send me, as an Honorary JFNA Board Member,  the breakdown in the allocation of $6.1 million from the Terror Relief Fund created from donations during Operation Protective Edge. (Guess no one else asked for it.)  I had received a second letter to Siegal on June 9. The fact that the Board Chair had to ask CEO "I-Can't-Be-Bothered" a second time is more than disturbing but it achieved results...of a sort. I received the breakdown with an admonition that it was sent to me "in confidence." I will respect the demand for "confidentiality" without understanding it -- an action by a JFNA Committee allocating $6.1 million is some sort of secret??!! (I can tell you that after reading the "Emergency Allocation Resolution" [quelle hyperbole!!], I can understand the demand.) 

6. Worse and Worse. . A Friend of the Blog added another sad void being filled by others to the growing list. As ejewishphilanthropy reported:
"BBYO, Hillel International and Moishe House are teaming up in launching a unique, pioneering global partnership to recruit, train and retain top professionals throughout their organizations. Called the Talent Alliance, this novel collaboration will link 780 Jewish communal professionals in 37 countries together in a global ecosystem designed to promote rising stars in these Jewish nonprofits."
No one at JFNA seems to understand or care. And, where is the voice of the Federation professional on this one? Just too busy as the system collapses around them.

7. the very end of last month the New York Post reported that New York's Central Synagogue suffered a "bed bug infestation." (The Synagogue follow-up was reported in Tablet Magazine as finding but a single bug. [I never heard that bed bugs traveled alone]) I immediately thought this could only have occurred at JFNA's 25 Broadway where so many appear, given the work product, to be "asleep at the switch."

I would venture the opinion that thanks to the absence of any leadership at JFNA, our system is somewhere on a continuum from mediocrity to irrelevancy -- everywhere. It need not be this way; it just is.



Anonymous said...

about point number 5, based on reliable sources, one can conclude as follows:
* the secrecy is because they should be ashamed, although they aren't - just afraid that
there may be some intelligent people out there who care and might "make trouble"
* they didn't give it all to themselves - took "only" 2.5 million for their own project
* the partners were, of course, consulted - then pretty much ignored
(what do they know about Israel? we are the experts on that, aren't we?)
* of course it should be have been suspect but the I&O staff did a great job of selling
their "professional" recommendations to the unsuspecting chairs and committee
* the secrecy is because they should be ashamed, although they aren't - just afraid that
there may be some intelligent people out there who care and might "make trouble"

Anonymous said...

While I respect why Richard cannot give details - others can and then the rest of us can make an informed judgement on the matter.

Anonymous said...

FedWorld is just an example of the bankruptcy of JFNA -- it publicizes fundraising, but does none; it promotes programs, of others; and it tries to attract those who know better to things like the worthless GA's it has been running to smaller and smaller numbers. JFNA is bankrupt...but no now will tell them so but you.

Anonymous said...

Of course JFNA is broken and needs to figure out its role/value proposition, but come on guys, FedWorld is exactly the kind of promotion of things the Federation system cares about that JFNA should be doing. We've all been clamoring for years that the system doesn't tell its story well. At least now someone is now trying. So what if it's not perfect? If you have a suggestion to make it better, why not make the suggestion rather than slam it all?

RWEX said...

We wil have more on FedWorld on these pages in the coming days. But, dear Reader, please cite to me the examples you have of how FedWorld " exactly the kind of promotion of things the Federation cares about that JFNA should be doing." Please.