Tuesday, July 21, 2015


There were so many moments in our institutional history that elevated us, elevated amcha, through the actions of our leaders. At the end of the first week of June, one of the storied professional leaders of our system, Bob Hiller, passed away. His memory is for a blessing. One of his great contributions came in his service as Executive Vice-President of the Council of Jewish Federations 1979-1981.

Bob's death reminded me of one his actions in support of our system, of the Federation Movement. I went back in my own files and located a paper that Bob authored with his CJF professional colleagues, Carmi Schwartz, Darrell Friedman and Charlie Zibbell, Implications for the Profession of the Review of the Council of Jewish Federations. That Paper, presented to the Annual Meeting of the Conference of Jewish Communal Service, had many important lessons for a profession that has, of late, gone moribund.

The recommendations on CJF "functions" are critical inasmuch as they are as relevant today as they were 36 years ago. 
"1. Help Federations enlarge their financial resources.
2. Help Federations develop more efficient, economical and effective community services.
3. Define standards.
4. Assist Federations to develop highest quality leadership.
5. Recruit, train, provide highest quality professional staffing for Federations.
6. Intensify involvement of Community Federations in Council's decision-making, with improved, ongoing two-way communica­ tion.
7. Where there is broad consensus, and where it is appropriate, speak and act in behalf of Federations on their national and inter­national concerns and responsibilities.
8. Cooperate with appropriate organizations to help strengthen Jewish communities and Israel.
9. Help achieve greater collaboration among national Jewish organizations on Federation- related responsibilities.
10. Take leadership nationally, and through Federations locally, in advancing the general welfare of total community.

11. Develop long-range planning capabilities, locally in communities and nationally in CJF , to anticipate changes and to define basic goals and program."
Friends, is there one of us who doesn't believe that (a) the federations and JFNA of today would be best served were JFNA capable of focusing on these 11 functions; (b) JFNA is failing in each and every one of these 11 at this time; and (c) JFNA as presently staffed is incapable of achieving these functions? 

Clearly, JFNA excels in only one thing today -- promoting itself. Its leadership is either devoid of ideas for our system or, if they have any, lack the will or ability to implement them. Where are the Hillers, the Schwartzes, the Friedmans and Zibbells of today? Where are the women and men of ideas, of courage, of the willingness to invest their time, their overtime in not just making their communities better but our continental organization a shining City on the Hill rather than a mediocrity?

Bob Hiller, z'l, and his generation of professional leaders would never tolerate the circus we call JFNA; they would demand change, they would work for change. Today, our most system's most senior professionals look away from the disaster they have perpetuated. 

The leaders of JFNA are so far behind the parade that they can no longer hear the music, if they ever did. Shame on them; shame on us.




Anonymous said...

Then, a Bob Hiller, Darrell Friedman, Carmi Schwartz, Marty Kraar, Stanley Horoowitz, Brian Lurie -- and, now...are you kidding me, a Jerry Silverman? Tell us it isn't so. Where do we turn to for ideas, for guidance, for direction? NOWHERE

Anonymous said...

We have turned our primary relationships with overseas partners into a joke, gutted our planning components, told lay people they are lousy solicitors and replaced them with professionals, alienated our communities, and sent veteran pro's packing when they pass a certain age, get a bit uppity or get too expensive. We don't need new leaders we need a good hard look in the mirror first.