Wednesday, September 16, 2015


You keep hoping that something...anything...will get better and, then...

Jerry Silverman, CEO extraordinaire, used his Rosh Ha'Shana message -- What Happens Now? (a title unintentionally [for certain in Jerry's case] ironic) -- to first argue for the continuing importance ("self-importance?") of what he likes to call "Federation" when he is referring to JFNA, for being the convener (actually the co-convener) of important, informative conference calls to present, as it turned out, the Obama Administration's multiple messages in support of its deal with Iran, and, then, off on tangents that lead me, and, perhaps, only me, to the conclusions expressed below.

But...let's start with form rather than substance. It's one thing to have one's name inscribed on a letter, Memo, Book...even a Blog. But, for CEO Jerry, there must be a new level of insecurity. His name appears to be in Bold, 1 inch high. It's in a Font heretofore unknown to me -- not Helvetia 12, not Arial 14, no, not even Verdana 16 -- this one is Egomania 20!!  You have to see it to believe it!!

OK, enough of that, let's move on to the real problem here, as in all things...substance...or, more appropriate to JFNA, the lack thereof. Sifting through the now wholly expected bloviation, Jerry has postulated the following points:

  1. "First, we need to refocus on what united us throughout this trying period." Sure, Jerry, just how did JFNA "unite us" over the past months? And, what exactly, did JFNA contribute to those points of supposed "unity?" Best I can tell, JFNA contributed nothing, had no suggestions...and still doesn't. To JFNA the best thing to do was to stay above (or was it behind??) the fray avoiding any discussion whatsoever, even when urged to convene that and, at all costs, avoid any debate whatsoever. And, speaking of "debate..."
  2. "Second, we need to accept that debate—even an intense, painful one—is at the center of who we are as a people." Friends, this is so confounding -- JFNA, which assured that there would be no debate whatsoever under its auspices during the entirety of the real debate taking place in our communities, now dictates that debate is at the center of just whom we are...I guess he meant "you are" inasmuch as JFNA is once again nowhere to be found. It's unfathomable, as with most things, that JFNA could once again articulate: "do as we say not as we do." It's beyond pathetic; it's abysmal. In point of fact, JFNA avoids debate on anything and everything; this is the most significant reason for the lack of engagement by federations with JFNA. Jerry Silverman lives in some parallel universe that permits him and only him to believe that JFNA is doing exactly...EXACTLY...what is is not doing and has never done. And we permit this inanity to go on.
  3. "This brings me to my third point. The esteemed Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks has described conflict management as 'the single greatest unresolved problem in Jewish history.'” Hmmm. Really? Well, whether one agrees with Jerry/Rabbi Sacks as to the priority of this "problem," one has to ask: how does Silverman jump from the need for real debate -- a thing unknown at JFNA -- to this "greatest problem" of conflict management? And, then, to make this another "focus" of the unfocused GA  (what are there now, 20 foci...or more?).
  4. And, the bloviating just goes on and on with all forms of platitudinous advice without specifics, offering no real insights and, worst, offering not a single specific example of a JFNA plan or program that might accomplish any of these cliche-driven "Points."
Is it too late to hope for...what, exactly? Hope for change? Hope he can change? Can JFNA truly get better in 5776 with this

I think we all know the answer.



Anonymous said...

Richard, I read that thing Silverman sent out with the same sense of wonder you experienced. How does JFNA's Board Chair continue to tolerate this person? Could he possibly have the respect of anyone -- lay or professional -- outside of his own staff (and I would guess that many of them would tell you in private their own disbelief)? It is unconscionable that this man is paid $50,000 let alone over $700,000 for this lack of leadership or intelligence.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who cites Sacks as a conflict-resolver has never heard of Rabbi Hugo Gryn. Or Rabbi Louis Jacobs. Shameful.

Anonymous said...

Being a member of the Reform movement, Rabbi Gryn was a part of a "false grouping" and one of "those who destroy the faith", Lord Sacks wrote.

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, the chief rabbi for the Reform movement, commented diplomatically: "It has been an honour to represent British Jewry alongside Lord Sacks. He articulated the position of Orthodox Judaism with dignity and erudition. However, it is wrong to assume that he reflects the views of the majority of Jews in Britain, who are aligned with the general population in supporting complete gender equality and the diversity of family life including LGBT families and individuals."

Anonymous said...

Sacks was a terrible and divisive figure in British Jewish life. Typical.

Anonymous said...

It was Sacks' awful treatment of Rabbi Jacobs, ten years ago, that caused shame. How could anyone act that way? Shanda.

Anonymous said...

Look, Jerry saw what he thought was a good quote, a good citation and probably has no clue of the controversies in which Sacks became embroiled. Silverman is the President and CEO of the know-nothings. A constant embarrassment.