Friday, April 1, 2016


JFNA was envisioned to be a strong voice of the federations. Sometimes I wonder at what it has become. Then I think of one important service that JFNA provides. Travel with me...

At its birth, just when many of us believed that the then Newco would have the strongest possible professional leader -- a Nasatir, an Aronson, a ....- that elephant in the room, the UJA-Federation of New York, insisted that its sitting  CEO, Steve Solender, then the dean of all federation executives, move over as the first CEO of what would become JFNA and, coincidentally, open the seat that allow the promotion of John Ruskay. Good deal for New York-UJA. Good deal for the system?

Then, many years later, New York-UJA had another great idea: it would cast out Paul Kane from its FRD leadership (notwithstanding his history of success) and, voila, a soft landing at JFNA. Not a bad idea, a well-seasoned pro who could fill the void in FRD created by Jerry Silverman's predecessor who forced out every competent professional in the FRD Department, in a continuing purge leaving Jerry with nothing. Unfortunately, Paul didn't see himself as having been hired to run FRD (and, perhaps, he wasn't); so he didn't (although he did gather a Million Dollar Roundtable, I think, for its first [only?] meeting). I can only think that Paul could have done so much had he been allowed to do so. Good deal for New York-UJA. Good deal for the system?

To "fill" the nothing that was FRD at JFNA, Paul grabbed another from the bosom of New York-UJA's staff, hiring Dr. Reuben Romirowski to do something within that dormant JFNA FRD. Smilin' Jerry announced the appointment thusly:  “Reuben brings to JFNA the kind of proven track record and extensive communal experience that will help us drive our system’s fundraising forward." Uh, not so much. Reuben was to have all FRD constituent units reporting to him as Senior Vice-President. Didn't work out too well, did it? After a respectful passage of time, Reuben, too, was gone. As we have written, he still has not been replaced.

And, now, David Mallach has joined the organization as Executive V-P of the JFNA subsidiary, UIA,* after decades of service. A wonderful resume -- David comes to JFNA from...trumpets, please...New York UJA-Federation. I wish him well; every success. But I also recognize that he has joined an illustrious alumni association dumped from time-to-time on JFNA. 

David is well-positioned to succeed his predecessors who performed with such excellence --   let's hope so. With an UIA staff in New York and Israel of demonstrated and continuing excellence, he will be well on his way...if JFNA-Israel leaves him alone to do his work.


*BTW, UIA's Board Chair announced the engagement of the new UIA CEO without bothering to seek the ratification required of the UIA Board by its By-Laws (which I drafted long, long ago). This seems to be following a new tradition at UIA where the last Chair, Rich Bernstein, just decided unilaterally and with no governance action, to do away with the UIA Executive Committee. Vayezmir.


Anonymous said...

The reigning queen of JFNA Israel leave him alone to act responsibily? Richard, I'm not sure what you are smoking today, or if this is just an April Fool's joke!

Anonymous said...

JFNA "Global Operations" in Israel will do more than not leave him alone. They (the royal "they" of course) will, as usual, be proactive in doing anything possible to get him out of their way.
JFNA New York will, as usual - for some unknown and incomprehensible reason, go along with this.
The only hope will be if the UIA lay leadership are up to being true lay leaders and will also be proactive in fighting to allow the wonderful tradition of their organization to continue to survive and flourish.
David could be a successful New York export, but only if he doesn't get swallowed up by the monster that we have created and allowed to reign. He will need assistance from lay leadership if there is going to be any chance for him to succeed.
It would be nice if non-UIA lay leadership would also get involved and intervene but that is probably too much to hope for.

Anonymous said...

how sad but true this is - when will we finally wake up and do something about it?
hasn't the time come for us to get this thing back on track?

Anonymous said...

The problem is not the New York dumping. It is the awful organizational culture that we have allowed to become entrenched within JFNA, where even the best people are confronted with the reality of organizational politics that could easily compete with any power-centered, empire-building beaurocracy.
Is it any wonder that good people that are not willing to play these games either run away or are chased away so often - and usually under such unpleasant circumstances?
I'm sure the results of the recently completed staff survey will show that JFNA is a great place to work (because if not, the results will either be doctored or not released).
A great place to work for the bosses and their cronies and for the line workers who don't really understand how bad things really are.
We, on the other hand, should understand how bad things really are and, more important, we should be doing something about it.