It was an organization that, at one time, was institutionally heroic -- if an entity can be such. In its first iteration, it was the pre-State government of Israel. Post-Independence, it was a partner in building the country and the nation. In one five year period, its work, propelled by our incredible philanthropy, prepared and delivered 1,000,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union to Israel. Its leaders, from Ben Gurion forward were our leaders...Max Fisher, z'l, Chuck Hoffberger, z'l, Corky Goodman, Alex Grass, z'l, Richie Pearlstone, Carole Solomon to Chuck Ratner...our leaders.
But, somewhere along the line, somewhere in its most modern history, the Jewish Agency for Israel lost its way. And, today, the evidence is in that JAFI has lost sight of its core purposes. (Sound familiar?) To those of us who fought the successful fight side-by-side with lay and professional leaders worldwide: to depoliticize the Agency, to make its annual budget among the most transparent in Jewish organizational life -- more so, certainly, than those of the JDC and JFNA, to name but two -- to maintain and increase allocations to JAFI's core budget; and to assure that its programs were not just funded but monitored and evaluated -- to us these are the saddest of days.
Not so long ago JAFI's lay leaders -- at the time, Richie Pearlstone and Natan Sharansky, the latter more of a hybrid lay-professional as Chair of the JAFI Executive -- had determined to invigorate a worldwide financial resource development effort. With Sharansky's support and encouragement, the organization sought out Misha Galperin, then in the process of negotiating an extension of his contract as CEO/President of the Washington D.C. Federation, to lead this world-wide effort. Galperin, who knew something about chain of command from his work at first the New York UJA-Federation and then D.C., had but few requirements for this new position -- that his JAFI contract mirror his contract with Washington with adjustments for relocation to New York; that severance conditions be unequivocal; and, most critically, that his reporting path be directly and expressly to Natan and the Board Chair. It was this last "demand" that caused the greatest issues.
Even before Misha's contract was executed, the JAFI Director General, Alan Hoffmann, attempted both directly and in the shadows, to either modify the reporting inserting himself in the process or, in the alternative, to kill the deal. Ultimately, Galperin agreed to a modified reporting outline, with Hoffmann in the mix. But the die had been already cast -- relations between Alan and Misha were bad from the beginning and only got worse.
JAID -- the Jewish Agency International Development -- was essentially a one man band with Galperin the band leader with few if any instruments. Although Misha staffed up with the some wonderful professionals in the New York HQ, it was he, almost alone, who solicited $10s of millions for JAFI's coffers. His annual successes exceeded even the most optimistic of estimates. But, still, it appeared that the JAFI Director General did all that he could to undermine Galperin's efforts. When Chuck Ratner, an inspired lay Board Chair for whom Alan Hoffmann had been his JAFI guru, succeeded Pearlstone, an active Galperin supporter, the die was cast. Slowly but surely, even Sharansky's support for Misha eroded -- ultimately, Misha was pushed to the ledge. His contract was not renewed.
JAFI, Alan Hoffman, Chuck Ratner, Natan Sharansky, in their collective "brilliance," were willing to put at risk, if not absolutely sacrifice, those $10s of millions which they knew Misha raised through his personal efforts, for what appeared to have been nothing more than a power play the outcome of which was Alan Hoffmann "winning" a bureaucratic victory -- the price be damned. What a "victory." JAID today languishes with a new professional leader about to join. That leader, Josh Fogelson, once the CEO of the Minneapolis Federation (where, during the days in which the JFNA Financial Relations leadership engaged in core allocations advocacy, kept us out and the JAFI allocation cratered in that community), will now need to build/rebuild an entire structure from the ground up . (One of Galperin's failings was his apparent belief that a lay cohort was unnecessary to the JAID efforts across the Continents. None was really implemented and the lay structure which many of us had built at JAFI North America, essentially abandoned by the end of Misha's term.) JAID/JAFI requires great lay/professional leadership; JAID/JAFI requires greater coordination with UIA. A 2014 outline of the "division of overseas responsibilities among UIA and JFNA-Global Operations (and JFNA-Israel, one and the same) has ruptured given Silverman's inattention, UIA leadership's apparent lack of interest, and Becky Caspi's continued empire-building.
So, the search for Galperin's successor has been completed. Josh Fogelson will be in place by January 1, 2016. Several things are certain: the new JAID CEO will report directly and exclusively to the JAFI Director General for better or, more likely, for worse; the marketing function for JAID will not be a JAID function run from New York HQ but will be run out of Jerusalem, also under Hoffmann's thumb. As good as Josh Fogelson may be, the new CEO will be a lesser Misha Galperin. Anyone who has led an FRD effort understands that marketing and FRD require coordination and direction, by FRD for FRD -- that will not be the case at JAID/JAFI.
Total it up -- Alan Hoffmann has "won" an illusory victory while JAFI is the loser. Big time loser.