- While writing a Post on a different subject entirely, I looked for the current whereabouts of a long-time CJF and, then, JFNA staffer -- good guy, excellent player of the bureaucracy, who maneuvered within JFNA from community consulting and leading disaster relief efforts (in both of which he excelled) before falling victim to an idiotic reorganization engineered by the then CEO which put him "in charge" of FRD. Forget that he had no experience in or leadership of FRD -- some saw the reengineering as merely a means of forcing out some excellent, creative FRD senior professionals -- that "worked" as only "worked" is defined within JFNA. so, I found this pro's CV at his new position and found that he has now taken credit for the very innovative FRD efforts of others, among other things, That's the way it sometimes works for JFNA alumni.
- Back in Fall 2013, when some thought there was a chance that Jerry Silverman might actually emerge from the miserable cocoon he had been in as a full-fledged butterfly, he proved the hopeful wrong with the publication of a White Paper -- The Jewish Federations of North America Serving the Federation Movement. Even a cursory reading of the Long Con Paper revealed that JFNA had not a single new Initiative since the UJA/CJF years. But, some viewed those as "progress."
- At almost the same time -- October 2013 -- the then Board Chair announced the Long Con "implementation of the Strategic Initiatives." JFNA announced it would now be the "convener of information and ideas." Uh huh -- even appointed a senior professional to the role of Vice President, Institutional Advancement, Thought Leadership. Great title -- in 2-1/2 years I haven't really seen much in the way of either Institutional Advancement or Thought Leadership -- but that's just me.
- There was the announcement in 2014 of the Volunteer Leadership Development Program -- which JFNA rolled out as Yasod only, apparently, to have been apprised, probably by the Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence which was to run the program, that it should have been Yesod, which is a Hebrew word which actually has some meaning. But, a rose is a rose, is a rose. So, a curriculum was developed for these volunteer leaders as if the Wexner Program or the Young Leadership Cabinets or local federation-driven leadership development programs didn't exist. The Yesod curriculum for one community was described as follows: "used the national Yesod curriculum, which combined Jewish texts with modern resources such as TED Talks and Harvard Business Review articles, and customized it for local leaders." At last count, JFNA budgeted $3.3 million -- that's $3,300,000!! -- for Mandel to do JFNA's work.
- You may have noticed, perhaps in your own communities, that the public celebrations of Yom Ha'Atzmaut, once a highlight of the Jewish communal calendar, were either wholly abandoned this year or were no longer considered a federation responsibility as they had been for so long. Never has Israel needed our public support more than in this era of BDS and anti-Israel protests seemingly everywhere. But, quietly...shhh...the federation movement in too many places has abandoned the celebration of Israel's birthday. A real self-confident continental organization would have understood that rallying the federations in support of Israel is one of its sacred responsibilities -- for JFNA...never mind. Sure, many federations would ignore a continental initiative, but that should never be an excuse for doing nothing.
- And, the longest con of all -- the Global Planning Table and its preposterous top-down sub-parts -- the Signature Initiatives -- you surely remember the unlamented passing of JQuest, The Israel Children's Zone, The Israel Religious Expression Platform (which continues in some form as the "volunteer" iRep). And one should add to these chapters in failure and lack of leadership and no Federation FRD the Government of Israel/World Jewry Initiative frustrated by a lack of leadership at every level and cooption by the Government of Israel and the immediate past Chair of UIA (who some tell me is now pursuing this illusive goal under the claimed aegis of the Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Naftali Bennet, who engineered the cooption of "World Jewry to begin with.
- And, of course, the so-called "JFNA Budget."
Oh, there's more, so much more. At JFNA we have a professional and lay leadership that has mastered the art of embellishment, the art of self-promotion and self-congratulations (for almost nothing) and the art of the con -- conning themselves and us at one and the same time. I sometimes think that Sandler and Silverman ought to be out on the street in front of 25 Broadway, with a card table and Three-Card Monte.
Someone once said that you should study the past to divine the future. Uh huh.