"That's what leadership is -- being present."It was so stupid and, yet, it reflected so well what has been going on at JFNA for the past years -- "leadership is showing up" and nothing more. I reflected on this absurdity after Dan Brown published his in-depth and damning eulogy to the failed JFNA Global Planning Table in ejewishphilanthropy -- Failing to 'Make the Case,' JFNA's Big Gamble is Closed Down. Therein Brown exposed the greater/broader failings of JFNA -- a total lack of integrity coupled with a total lack of accountability. That Smilin' Jerry is still walking the halls of 25 Broadway as CEO after the debacle of the GPT and the facile misrepresentation of its real costs evidence so clearly that this Commentator in his/her stupidity was correct in his/her conclusion: want to be a leader at JFNA -- just show up, do nothing, demand nothing.
The most senior JFNA staff has been making up the answers for so long, they obviously believed they could just throw a fictional number as the expenses of the GPT at Dan Brown and he would accept it. They forgot that Dan is neither a Board member nor officer of JFNA. Dan looked further as a great reporter would and determined that the JFNA number was farcically misrepresented. And no lay leader of JFNA apparently gave a Tinker's Damn.
One of my dear friends in communal leadership, after reading Dan Brown's article wrote me with a single question, the seminal question: "How much longer can the charade go on?" His was more than a query, it was a sincere expression of one communal professional's pain and outrage. And, yet, the evidence is that the Board of JFNA views itself as a social club of some kind, demanding neither accountability nor transparency from the organization that swallows up $30 million of our dollars per year hiding, for example, $7 million dollars plus on the misbegotten Global Planning Table without being called to account once.
In any other place, there would be a sense of outrage at the waste and the hiding of it. At JFNA, in the last GPT meeting, a lay leader, rather than challenging Jerry Silverman for these millions misspent, said that the waste had to be "hidden" from prying eyes because so much was wasted. She needn't have feared -- not a single JFNA Board member has stepped up with a single question; not one has had the temerity to suggest that Smilin' Jerry Silverman and his crowd have long outlasted their shelf lives and must be gone. No, we just move on...no shame, no apologies, no pride.
Yes, this is a group that truly believes what that Anonymous Commentator wrote: "That's what leadership is -- being present." As another friend wrote me: "All along, the JFNA leadership and Board have had their heads in the sand, with nobody asking questions since 2009." Heck, that's just 6 years of silence. Here's how it works: give countless people, lay and professional alike, bima visibility at a succession of GAs, hugs for them and others, sic a "leader" at anyone pushing back with a subtle warning to "back off," etc. Accuse the critics of somehow lacking a love of the Jewish People. But...do...nothing.
One philosopher has written: "The wise man doesn't give the right answers, he poses the right questions." At JFNA the "wise person" asks no questions, makes no waves, demands no answers, let alone the "right" ones. The organization withers but everyone has a great time. Just keep just "showing up" -- oh, and "Thinking Forward" while doing nothing and questioning nothing.
When do responsible adults take charge? Let's hope now!!