Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Readers know that I have come to believe that various of the JFNA silos operate in their own universes, unrelated to the reality of what JFNA was to be and, most often, operating in its own virtual reality world. Examples abound, but none offers a model better/worse than does FEDworld, that daily comic book-like production of the continental organization that has acquired its own tag-line -- The Latest Local-to-Global Federation Update -- when it really should be tagged -- If You Don't Know Where You're Going, Any Road Will Get You There. And the question: how many staff and how much staff-time and, thereby, JFNA overhead are dedicated to this "effort?"

Thus, the following culled from recent issues:

  • Citations to pioneering work in FRD -- Fundraising Is About More Than Money  (an article from ejewishphilanthropy)-- when JFNA does none...
  • A cite to a Jim Joseph Foundation analysis (appearing, where else, in ejewishphilanthropy) on "Measuring outcomes across grantees and over time" when JFNA never offers measurement off "outcomes" of its own "efforts" -- G-d forbid there ever were accountability...
  • News being in short supply, an article is linked about one community's CRC Annual Meeting...
  • Mission to Berlin highlight -- running a half marathon??
  • Instead of really highlighting an excellent op-ed from Kim Heiman, JFNA Chair of its futile IREP on the need for civil marriage in Israel appearing in the Times of Israel, the daily rag just cites it and moves on
  • And, of course, there was the highlight that a JFNA Senior V-P had been named the top Twitterer in the "Jewish Twitterverse." Kind of chokes one up -- but not in a good way. The 25 most influential people in the ‘Jewish Twitterers’ 
  • Here is how our JFNA -- Israel and Overseas distracts itself: "INSTITUTE FOR LAW AND POLICY at Hebrew University in Jerusalem is partnering with Federations to host an immersive summer program for aspiring lawyers on the legal complexities in the Middle East." JFNA is a co-sponsor with a number of the organizations -- it will be an excellent program but does this promote the idea of federation or the purpose of federation? And, why is JFNA involved?
  • Then the absolute best: under a masthead announcement that -- "FEDERATIONS’ DECADES-LONG SUPPORT OF THE NEGEV is reinforced by the Negev Creative Vitality Initiative, which recently gave $50K in grants to Sapir College, Bezalel Art School, and ed-tech company MindCET to run classes for innovators on building more resilient communities through arts and culture." This is called hyperbole built upon hyperbole -- $50,000 when other organizations are investing tens, even hundreds of millions in the Negev and we brag on this? What's wrong with us? Have we no pride? (That was rhetorical.)
Or, more important, what you never read in this JFNA Bugle:
  • You never read (or were never linked to) an article on JFNA changing its auditors 2 years and more after other Jewish organizations began switching from the JFNA's firm. When asked, JFNA told the Forward with its own unique and total disingenuity that it is an “industry standard to change audit firms periodically,” The Forward continued, noting that JFNA had not changed auditors since 1999. Further, in an article in February 2015, the Forward noted how other non-profits were leaving this just takes JFNA a little longer to do...anything.
  • And, in a Post last month I cited all of us to JFNA's decision under the Kanfer/Rieger regime that it would lead a stealth effort, with no consultation with JAFI or JDC, to bring 25 Yemeni Jewish families to the United States -- actually as it turned out, to the ultra-Orthodox ghetto that is Monsey, New York. It has been suggested to me that I failed to ask the questions: where are they today? Has JFNA met its obligation to protect these New Americans? And, of course, is the JFNA of Jerry Silverman even aware of whom these people are and of the obligation JFNA has to them? 
  • For the last four years the Ruderman Family Foundation has been bringing very small groups of Knesset members to North America to learn more about us. The Foundation has done a fine job but this was once one of the benchmarks of JFNA's work -- where larger groups of Knesset members were organized by the then outstanding leader of JFNA-Israel, now Knesset member himself, Nachman Shai. JFNA continues those visits thanks to the Jewish Agency and its Secretary General, organizing the trips when they take place. Ms. Caspi comes along...why?
Then there is this: received a "From the Desk of Jerry Silverman" earlier this month. The font deployed for Smilin' Jerry's name was 3/4 of one inch high.  This narcissistic exercise was either an embodiment of Jerry's insecurities…or a form a self-adulation previously unheard of. Either way, it was a display unbecoming of the office he holds. Then, again…

And, finally, a question. From communities across the Continent, Federation after Federation, regardless of City-size, including my own, have changed what was once Mitzvah Day to Good Deed Day?. We have become so pareve. 




Anonymous said...

I have noticed that many communities (Las Vegas, DC) have changed their previous Mitzvah Day to "Good Deeds Day" as well. Are we afraid that the word mitzvah will offend someone? If we are not about doing mitzvot for others, then why even bother?

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there something in the JFNA Board meeting minutes about a committee being formed after the June 2015 meeting to look into changing the name of 'Mitzvah Day'?
I think they hired Debbie Smith 'off the books' as the facilitator.

Anonymous said...

Much ado about nothing - but so wasteful and counterproductive!
How can we allow this farce to continue? FedWorld Reprints, ever-expanding self-inflating I&O Global "Operations", Negev "support" and staff paid for by emergency campaign funds, chaperoned Knesset tours and other assorted "good deeds" that would not be missed by anyone if they didn't exist.
Is this really what we need an umbrella organization for our federations for?
As we allow this waste of our limited funds for these and other irrelevant persuits, there aren't enough resources left for what our organization should in fact be doing - helping our federations and their donors raise and allocate more funds and assisting them in finding vehicles for meaningful involvement in effective grantmaking and projects both in our communities and in Israel.
Anyone in favor of of taking a hard look at our national budget and reallocating according to a coherent purpose and work plan for a change?

Anonymous said...

Hello, Chairman Sandler. Are you paying any attention whatsoever to the disaster that you are allegedly leading? Can't he see New York or Israel from Los Angeles? Sandler has become part of the problem. A big part.

Anonymous said...

Sandler has told a lot of people that he "likes" Silverman. So you can probably write off the next 2-1/2 years (if JFNA lasts that long).

Anonymous said...

My opinion for Sandler just went from respect to "in the toilet!"