Monday, April 18, 2016


On this one you can't really blame him. Without the continuing unquestioning support of a bunch of Federation CEOs, Jerry Silverman would have hit the bricks years ago. So when Jerry publishes a lengthy piece o'pandering to CEOs for his Pesach "message" (at least I think it was for Pesach*), that might be OK. "Might be" except in doing so, the Smilin' one forgot something, something that used to be important -- but, apparently, not no more, not for Jerry. 

First, read part of this message:
"Rabbi Elazar taught us that one who causes others to do is greater than one who does. For it is said, the work of righteousness shall be peace and the effect of righteousness shall be calm and confidence forever (Bava Batra, 9a). 
His idea is fairly straightforward: There are people who do good, and there are people who cause others to do good. The former are praiseworthy, but the latter are exemplary. 

Each professional in our Jewish communal world brings to life this beautiful teaching from the Babylonian Talmud by encouraging others to support programs that provide so much sustenance, whether literal or spiritual."
It's pretty evident that Jerry sees the role of the Federation CEO as that of "inspirer" -- as he sees himself. The one whose responsibility is to inspire others as that's the higher calling. Of course, in his pandering, Jerry seems to have ignored the fact that the CEO today has become the focal point of the "doing" not just the inspiring. But inasmuch as Jerry doesn't do either, he apparently can't give credit to those CEOs for what they doIt's really both pathetic and bathetic.

But there is something worse, a lot worse, in this pandering and prattling of he who continues to be absolutely incapable of understanding what our system must be if it is to succeed. At the core of this message is Jerry's relegation of lay people to the role of order takers. You see, in Jerry's construct of roles, the CEO is executing "the role of righteousness," the lay leaders are those "who do good," the CEOs those "who cause others to do good." Rather than equals...well, you can see where laypersons fit in this equation.

After 5+ years, and a few before that at a minor Jewish agency, Jerry Silverman continues to have no understanding...none at all...of the lay-professional partnership let alone the respective roles of lay leaders and communal professionals. Of the need for balance in the relationship. Sure, the occasion of the JFNA Professionals Institute inspired Jerry; I have no doubt others as well. But look at the "faculty" and see how many JFNA professionals led any session; see how many lay leaders presented. I think you know the answers.

Friends, there seems to be no understanding, at least none at the most senior level of JFNA, that a Federation CEO today, of any City-size, has to seek out mentoring and counsel among his/her colleagues and they are doing so. All JFNA has to offer these CEOs, beyond a one- or two-day "event," is an annual pedestrian, more and more irrelevant GA, it's FEDCentral, essentially a JFNA "vehicle" for federation professionals to interact with each other (I guess we used to call that a "Conference Call," and...nothing. 

It's past time for a change at the top of JFNA, and every time that Smilin' Jerry puts pen to paper, he proves it.


* On further review Silverman (and all of us) would have been better served on the cusp of Passover, if he had written a Pesach message instead of this attempted, failed paean to "professionals."


Anonymous said...

It is amazing in a bad way that Silverman is always able to exceed himself when it comes to what you have accurately described as "pathetic and bathetic." Yet he continues unabated. Can anyone explain why?

Anonymous said...

Simple: the CEO's of Chicago, Cleveland and New York allow the farce to continue. It's not brain science.

Anonymous said...

The overall picture should be clear to everyone by now:
° a few big city execs are the puppeteers
° the JFNA so called "professionals" are their puppets who make sure nothing happens to rock the boat
° the rest of us - the so called lay "leadership" - make it all possible by allowig this puppet show to go on and on and on...

So it makes sense for the puppets to praise the professional puppeteers and in doing so to praise themselves and protect their shared interests.

And we lay people make it all possible!
The problem is that there is no praise due to those that cause or allow others to do bad things.
Ultimately we are to blame for allowing this farcical show to go on and on and on...

Anonymous said...

As you have asked, in one form or another, many times, is there any adult supervision at JFNA at all? Where is Sandler? Does he even know what's going on at JFNA? Does any lay leader?

RWEX said...

Knowing Richard Sandler I believe him to be a leader who knows exactly what is "going on," and what isn't, in the Executive Suite at 25 Broadway. He is, as was his predecessor, a good and sincere leader.

Anonymous said...

How much time should we give Richard Sandler in his presidency before we determine if he is a leader who will make changes in this fiasco?

Anonymous said...

Sandler has already had more than ample time. He's not like his predecessor, plucked from the "outside."

Anonymous said...

Let the lay people lay down, awakening only when their rubber stamp approval vote is required, only to lay down again.
All in favor say "Aye" and may we all rest in peace!