So, there's FEDeration, there's FEDovation, there's FEDCentral...yes, there's now FEDeverything...and, sadly...FEDnothing when it comes to JFNA.
All of us know, every single one of us, that JFNA today is in the branding...the rebranding, really...of everything and doing nothing. Or, make that, more accurately, almost nothing. There seems to be a belief at 25 Broadway, that "if you brand it, if you rebrand it, they/we will come." But, they/we don't.
Reflecting upon the past three years at JFNA all I see are three years wasted. Going into their terms one had great hope for accomplishments from Michael Siegal as Board Chair, Dede Feinberg, Chair of the Executive, and Steve Silverman, as Treasurer. Each of them deserves our thanks for their dedicated service, for taking on often thankless leadership roles, and for the time they gave in trying to make JFNA a better organization. They must be, as all of us must be, sorry that these three years turned out to have been three years of stasis and worse of an organization that has been in a permanent institutional coma.
All three of these leaders are wonderful Jews, and leaders who took on their roles with no personal agendas. They knew our system well. So, why failure? Why did Michael, who quickly saw, from the perspective of a great businessman and as a Jewish leader, perpetuate in place a CEO unworthy of the title, tying his administration and the next to an anchor that has dragged down the institution? We will never know the answer. Why did Dede not act proactively to develop programs that would have, at a minimum, enhanced the GA and increased federation engagement with JFNA -- areas of leadership that were right in Dede's wheelhouse? Was she waiting for someone to ask? Was she just shoved aside by Michael/Jerry? We will never know the answer. And why did Steve not insist on a Budget process that tied expenditures to budget line items, the same "best practice" that I am certain is applied in his Jacksonville federation? We will never know the answers.
One thing we do know, one thing that each of these leaders demonstrated -- an organization does not advance, does not grow, when its most senior lay leaders view their jobs as strictly reading the scripts and cheerleading, especially when the scripts are wrong and the cheers echo in silence.
All of us wanted Michael, Dede and Steve to succeed. All of us now place our hopes on Richard Sandler and Jodi Schwartz. We wish them every success.