Wednesday, December 30, 2015


1. Most of the changes at the United Israel Appeal pre-merger through today have been imposed upon the organization by those with more power. Yet, recent changes have been those brought upon UIA by itself...a curious circumstance, to be sure. I count at least two:

  • Its CEO will no longer have the title Executive Vice-Chair but, instead, Vice-President, JFNA;
  • Worse, instead of reporting directly to the JFNA CEO/President and the UIA Board, the now Vice President, JFNA will be "[R]eporting directly to JFNA's Executive Vice President." 
No one is presently waiting in line to become just another one of the JFNA Vice-Presidents, but, maybe, the job will be more attractive by virtue of removing Smilin' Jerry from the the reporting process. But...come on now.

2. The great journalist, Gay Talese, had terse and relevant advice for an audience of young writers a few weeks ago, that I consider to be a dictate to those lazy, inert members of the JFNA Board: "Get off your ass" Are these leaders capable of any action whatsoever or will  Board service remain the honorarium it has become? 

3. Recently, JFNA's Board Chair explained his and our dedication to Jewish values as the organization publicly condemned the intolerant screed of Rabbi David Lau. That statement was superb -- passionate and compelling. Compare and contrast with Smilin' Jerry's "personal" expression of, what, "sadness?" The CEO's quote was so unnecessary. Then, JTA examined individual Jewish organizational response to Donald Trump's hate speech attacks on Muslims. What did JFNA have to say? Read on...
"Jewish Federations of North America: While the umbrella group for North American Jewish federations tries to stay out of the partisan fray, it has weighed in on political matters when it felt the issue merited it. For example, on Dec. 10, JFNA rebuked Israel’s chief rabbi for criticizing an Israeli politician’s visit to a non-Orthodox Jewish day school in New York. In its statement, JFNA said: 'Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau was wrong to criticize Minister Naftali Bennett for the latter’s visit to a Solomon Schechter community day school in Manhattan.” On Trump, JFNA has issued no statement, and a representative told JTA it has no plans to do so.'"
As I read this, JFNA patted itself on the back for its Lau Statement, suggested that this was but an example of "...weigh(ing) in on political matters when it felt the issue merited it." Let's see -- not. Is JFNA capable of truth-telling? Why the obstinate repetition of petty and not-so-petty deceits? (a) Paranoia? (b) Insecurity? (c) Because the truth might have actual consequences? All of the above?

4. Any signs of life at JFNA FRD? By this time, even Harold Gernsbacher, the National Campaign Chair, must realize he was sold a real bill of goods when promised the earth, the moon and the stars by the immediate past Board Chair and Smilin' Jerry. You, too, can read their commitments to Harold, inasmuch as they are right there, in black and white, on the pages of the JFNA Budget 2015-2016. And, all they have delivered to Harold was Vicki Agron's consultancy to pacify him. As we already asked: How many prominent names have been offered the professional leadership of the non-existent FRD Department? Five...ten...more?  Maybe Smilin' Jerry can offer one of them the earth, the moon, the stars...or maybe he has, to no avail.

5. For the fourth (or is it the 5th) time, JAFI announced that, at the direction of the Government of Israel (that means the GOI is picking up the tab, I assume), it will once again, again, again (and, maybe...again) "Complete the Journey" by bringing another 10,000 or more Ethiopians to Israel for "family unification." This is noble and, apparently, never-ending work. If you count the Ethiopian aliya that preceded this one, you will have the parallel number of times that Diaspora Jewry has failed to meet the financial responsibilities it undertook as JAFI's "partner" in "bringing them home." In other words, this will be more of the same....until the next time, of course.



Anonymous said...

Is it really our obligation if the government keeps saying "we're done" and these aren't Jews anyway?

Anonymous said...

Precisely right. These are not Jews. Not to say that family (re)unification isn't important. But let's not call it aliyah.

Anonymous said...

Let's not call it "bringing them home" either. There's no "obligation" on the federations. That's ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

The one thing that will save JFNA is Vicky. If she comes up with a solid plan, and we get a decent fundraising pro, the system will restore a lot of strength to the federations.

Anonymous said...

And if my grandma had......she'd be my grandpa.