Wednesday, May 25, 2016


We all know that the National Young Leadership Cabinets historically have been the springboard of federation, UJA, CJF and agency, national and local, leadership. From my own era have sprung exactly those leaders, men and women alike -- campaign and Board leaders of UJA, CJF, JFNA and every agency and community I can think of. The experience of a Cabinet Retreat or a Washington Conference, z'l, or, in my own community, the camaraderie and mentoring at monthly informal get togethers taught us so much about team-building, about the Jewish values expressed through community. And, oh, those Retreats -- where there were no "minimum gifts" -- there was the demand of the members themselves to capacity giving.

Today. Well here are some of the current criteria:


Age: Candidates must be between 30 – 40 years of age in the calendar year (2016) that they begin their tenure on NYL Cabinet

Retreat: Cabinet Retreat is required of all first year members, and is strongly encouraged in all subsequent years. Retreat is the heart of the NYL Cabinet experience– if an accepted applicant is unable to attend Retreat, the NYL leadership team will review their circumstances and offer deferment opportunities on a case-by-case basis.
*The 2016 Cabinet Retreat will take place July 27 – 31 in Charlotte, NC*

Campaign: At their first Retreat, candidates must make a minimum gift of $5,000 to their local federation’s 2017 Campaign

Community Limits: We recommend each community have no more than five (5) lay leaders join NYL Cabinet in any given year. Should a community recommend more than five, JFNA will review this on a case-by-case basis

Leadership: Candidates should have already demonstrated leadership in the local community and are eager for future growth. The best candidates are those you believe to have the potential to be your future Federation Campaign Chair(s)

Giving Potential: Each candidate should make a leadership-level gift, increasing year over-year, toward his / her Federation’s Annual Campaign. Additionally, NYLC members are encouraged to participate in 2nd line campaigns and emergency campaigns. Lastly, members are asked to partake in a meaningful conversations about endowing their gift."
Now I love the weekly Shabbat messages, and I am certain that the Retreats are still filled with ruach: but, shouldn't there be more? Are the YLC members still doing fund-raising -- sending teams of trained lay solicitors into communities to support the annual campaigns? Of course not inasmuch as there iOS no longer an FRD function at JFNA? Back in the day (as in halcyon days of yore) with a great young UJA professional as support, I and my fellow Chicago Cabinet members would travel, at our own expense, to small isolated communities (mine was Decatur, Illinois) to bring Jewish programming and experiential workshops -- I have a sense that these kinds of experiences, which elevated our leadership training, are beyond the interest of the Cabinet Members of today. And, "full disclosure capacity giving" is no doubt viewed, like gift announcements and car calling, as no more than  a relic of some distant, forgotten past.

And, of course, I remember the incredible excitement of the Cabinet Washington Conferences -- each surpassing the one that preceded it in attendance and spirit...until early in the life of JFNA when they were viewed as either (a) too much work or (b) preempted by the AIPAC Policy Conferences which, as the century turned was attracting large numbers of YLC Members. Then the Cabinets created Tel Aviv 1 -- an Israel venue for the Cabinet excitement. But costs and time investments for young leaders stood in the way of a Tel Aviv 2...and the Cabinets turned to Mitzvah (oops, Good Deed) things and Shabbat messages, Retreats and little else.

Speaking of "costs and time investments," isn't it time that JFNA. deploying some of its Budget bloat, heavily subsidize the Registration cost of the YLC Retreat? Isn't $999 a preposterous cost for an event that is annually organized to develop our future? That's $999 plus travel -- plus, plus. Let's make this event free -- reflective of our institutional commitment to Cabinet. If that commitment is more than lip service.

Oh, if only someone were in charge who truly understood what the Cabinets once were and could be again. Another "if only..."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That which you have said about the YLC can also be said about the Rabbinic Cabinet.
It no longer exists in any manner of the past. While every national Jewish organization courts rabbinic involvement, JFNA has let the rabbis in the field go off on their own.