Monday, November 16, 2015


I recently rejected a moronic Anonymous Comment from a GA attendee that closed with the following gem:
           "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 shame, no apologies, no pride.

Yes, this is a group that truly believes what that Anonymous Commentator wrote: "That's wh
at 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.

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!!



Anonymous said...

I guess this is where Richard Sandler either steps up or joins the ranks of Manning and Seigal.

Anonymous said...

not sure how fair it is to put this all on Richard. especially if the definition of success is merely the removal of Jerry. Perhaps a better way to go is to collaboratively to establish reviewable and measurable organizational goals and objectives. The discussion can include fair-game issues such as the lay-pro partnership and expectations of each.

Anonymous said...

You misrepresented what I wrote. Unfair. I wrote that you have to be present at the GA in order to make valid criticisms that are pertinent. It's fine to make assertions based on what you saw on the Internet but leadership really IS about showing up and being present. Yes, a lot more besides that. But you have to be present.

Anonymous said...

I agree. So many of the commentators were not even at the GA. There are huge challenges and major issues but many commentators just spew negativity without any facts.

My favorites are those who say that they are on the Board of Trustees (are you really???) and sit in the room and smile and then head to their computers to air their anger and frustration.

They love the old guard who created this mess and criticize anyone that doesn't see the world wearing antique glasses.

Anonymous said...

I attended the GA. I have found those who have commented (Anonymously, of course, just like you and me) but were not present to have been wholly accurate in their opinions. My "favorites" are those, like you and others, who fawn over the narishkeit and the narishkeiters that has reduced registered lay leader attendance at the GA to less than 1,000 and has made JFNA a sorry excuse for the organization it should be and the organization that we need. I will not be attending these expensive wastes of time and money in the future. The shame is on those, and it sounds like you are among them, who are nothing more than court jesters who genuflect to a sorry group of so-called leaders or, more likely, you are one of them.

Anonymous said...

If you directed your comments at me (3:51 anon) then no, I'm not a JFNA pro. I'm a small-city exec, and I found the GA extremely useful. I've been going for a few years and, quite honestly, I've been finding it more and more useful each year. I get good value for money for going, I get to consult with peers and colleagues, I get a good dose of inspiration.

And I don't really need the nonsensical criticisms of people who weren't there and don't bother coming.

I don't really care how many come: the people I need were there, and they were the ones that count.

RWEX said...

From a great distance, a Friend of the Blog has written out of his/her own pain at what JFNA has become:

Hello from Buenos Aires. My question is "why do seemingly well meaning and competent volunteer and professional leaders tolerate such abject mediocrity?"

‎I can never figure out the "why". Why won't they step up and deconstruct this farce and recreate a system which actually cares about and adds value to Federations?"

Anonymous said...

They don't know how to help the federations, so they engage in rhetoric, present as innovations programs that in the main are best practices from years ago, fail to follow up in any way and applaud themselves for nothing at all. We are and have been wasting tens of millions of dollars on this farce every year. I don't believe that Richard Sandler can even see the daily failures from 2500 miles away. So, expect more of the same.

Anonymous said...

You're not posting comments that you don't like?

RWEX said...

Thanks for asking. I publish many Comments of those who disagree with me. I don't publish Comments from those who misrepresent what I've written -- for example, a recent Anonymous Comment (probably from you) stated that I had cited a Commentator as a "moron." That was irresponsible; I wrote that the cited sentence was "moronic." I consider your irresponsible statement as having been written by a moron -- so I rejected it.

What you and very few others fail to comprehend is that this is my Blog. You are free to read it and Comment upon it and I reserve my right to accept or reject Comments within my discretion. That will continue. I remain grateful to the vast majority of the Blog's readership for the intelligence of your Comments, even from this who vehemently disagree with what I have written.