Friday, June 12, 2015


One of the worst characteristics of a JFNA full of them over the past decade (and longer) has been the failure or, maybe, the refusal to prioritize the countless and growing "asks" of the Jewish federations across the Continent. Were I a federation CEO I would start a pile of all of the requests from JFNA for funding, with Dues at the top (or bottom, your choice) and then watch as the pile just grows and grows and grows with one more "ask" after another after another. 

I wrote about the clueless requests for funds six years ago -- since then the pile would probably reach from desk top to ceiling. You might also ask of CEO Jerry: rank these requests for funds for me, please -- and, no doubt, after you would hear "Well, there's JFNA Dues" you would then hear "Let me get back to you on that"...or "Huh?" They don't have a clue.

Right off the top of my head, the "asks" are out on:

  • Dues
  • Core Allocations
  • Nepal
  • Ukraine
  • France
  • Nepal
  • Nepal
  • Nepal
  • Strategic Initiatives
  • Select Core Priorities
  • Israel Action Network
  • Secure Communities Network
  • And, I am pretty certain many of you know of far more than these...
Friends, as we have learned, where there are no priorities, everything is a priority which means that nothing is. Read the JFNA Budget and the lack of any priority is self-evident. Perhaps that is why, among other things, there were 89 votes (and maybe more) against the 2015-2016 Budget in JFNA's Delegate Assembly last week after unanimous approval by the rubber stamps of the Budget and Finance and Executive Committees, an unheard of "nay" vote.

And, then, there is this...

On May 7, Jerry "I'll-Ask-The-Federations-to-Fund-This" sent a Memo to his colleagues: "Background Information on Federation-supported efforts on behalf of Ethiopian Israelis."  Building on the violent protests that erupted among members of the Israeli Ethiopian community the previous weekend, the relatively accurate document ends with the suggestion that it is once again time to "Complete the Journey." OMG!! 

Some history is in order. Some of you young'ns probably don't remember the long forgotten dismal failure that was the "ONAD Process." (Just writing those two words  brings a bit of vomit to the back of my throat...but, never mind.) Well, back in Year 2 of ONAD that Committee made a simple request of the federations -- maintain your core allocation and provide an additional 5% to assist the Israeli Ethiopian community through the Ethiopian National Project -- essentially a joint venture among the Ethiopian communal leadership, the JDC, JAFI and the Federations. The federation response? Chicago and Houston...2 of 155 or so federations... responded with the requested increased funds. (Now, there's no reason CEO Jerry would know that as he likes to pretend there was no organizational history before he was hired; at least he is unaware of any.) 

That was bad enough, but then, during the Rieger regime, you may remember, CEO Howard sent an impassioned plea to the federations demanding that we immediately fund the amounts required to bring Ethiopian Jewry to Israel -- it was and is our obligation and, if we didn't do so, then we had "failed in our responsibilities," Howard wrote. He expected checks to role in -- they didn't. And, finally, under the Jerry Regime we were told that it was our obligation to "Complete the Journey" for which the federations' share would total, first, $5 million, then reduced to $3 million and, final reduction, about $1.5 million, leaving JAFI and the Joint holding the bag. This whole sordid history ought to be directly in front of us if once again JFNA adds "Complete the Journey...Again" to its ever-expanding "list of asks."

Meanwhile, JFNA transfers steals $2.1 million to its own Negev Hub from the funds raised for Terror Relief while every analyst believes another Terrorists War on Israel appears imminent -- see, e.g.,

What did Santayana tell us, again, about repeating mistakes?




Anonymous said...

I'm really confused. "Complete the Journey?" Aren't there over 125k already in Israel? Didn't the government determine how many were left in Ethiopia about 3-4 years ago? Didn't they bring all those left to Israel 3-4 years ago? Sounds like the journey is complete and it furthermore sounds like it was completed without the federations and JFNA - probably due to the efforts/budgets of the partners JDC, JAFI and ORT going directly to the federations and raising the money they needed for specific projects in aliyah and klita along with the government. If any federation was convinced to send more money to JFNA what would JFNA do with it? Where would it go and for what purpose or did Jerry neglect to include that in his letter/ask?

Anonymous said...

This new system of "robbing Peter to pay Paul" stealing money from one pot for another but unintended use, is bad practice, bad budgeting and evidence of the total failure of JFNA leadership. On the professional side, there is no discipline and absolutely no ability to raise funds to support its work (Educational Initiative, Negev Something); on the lay side there is no management of operations or control of professional staff actions. In other words there is nothing more than management chaos (not "management by chaos" -- just "chaos.")

Paul jese4 said...

And JNF just received a $100 million gift

Anonymous said...

As you have written, probably too often, our system is based upon the donors trust in federation and, then, federation trust in those to which it locates funds (or to which it pays Dues) or allocates precious dollars. How can any federation, given what JFNA is doing with OUR money, trust the current leadership, lay and pro, of JFNA with a shekel let alone 100s of millions? If they continue to send our money to JFNA all trust will be lost and whatever is left of our system lost with it.

Anonymous said...

There is more to FRD than just opening a mail box

Anonymous said...

yeah - not only opening a mailbox - also taking the money and using it to fund yourself rather than what it was raised for!

Anonymous said...

JFNA shows no commitment to anything, anyone, any program. They just throw stuff against the wall to see if anything sticks; they risk nothing for the Jewish People so, in their minds, how can they ever be accused of "failing?" Their leadership are an embarrassment and should resign, pro and lay, en masse. Today.