Wednesday, July 6, 2016


                          ...AND THE SKIES ARE NOT CLOUDY ALL DAY

There are times, weekly, sometimes daily, where I just want to take the totality of JFNA leadership and calmly ask: "Can't you see what is right in front of you?" But, I know the answer: they see nothing amiss as the ship goes down. I still have faith that Richard Sandler will "see it," "get it" and do something about it. But...

There should be a widespread understanding that if a great organization fails to meet its aims, it ceases to be a great organization; so to many among this group of JFNA leaders
the answer is an organization with no aims...and, somehow, that's just fine. Thus, they reason, we cannot fail. And they are so wrong. Because while they have been doing nothing, the greatness has faded away; it is gone. There is no "there there" anymore. JFNA has become what Mencken called “…a carnival of bunkum," too many of its lay and professional leaders in a constant state of denial. Yes, we have a stupefying professional leadership in disarray and a stubborn lay leadership in denial -- a leadership that has tolerated and tolerates not just mediocrity but worse. 

And there appears to be no end to it. Those who believe JFNA is being professionally led at all must be the same folks who deny evolution and refute global warming. It is fair to ask is it not: Is there any muscle memory left in an organization that has been imploding for almost a decade now?? For if there is: it's time, long past time, to clean house. And, as was stated in the brilliant TV series Billions: “Principle doesn’t go away all at once; it’s a creeping erosion.”  Some don't see it happening.

The question has been asked and answered again and again: what do the federations have to show for their "investment" of close to $700,000,000 in Dues to JFNA since the merger that created it...just seeing that figure makes me sick. For I, like you, know full well what $700,000,000 million properly applied could have meant to those of our People most in need. 

And, at the very top of the pile, wallowing in the mess, he whose head is the deepest in the trough, sits Jerry Silverman. That's the Silverman who actually has told his leadership that he can drive transformational change after close to seven years -- that's SEVEN YEARS...of futility -- in which the only change he has led has been change for the worse. For Silverman to assert that suddenly he will be the catalyst for transformational change at JFNA rings “…as hollow as Donald Trump espousing the virtues of restraint.” Who’s kidding whom? And who believes it? Who could possibly believe it?

Jerry has become, if he was not always, a professional leader beyond meretricious; supported by a leadership that appears to have wholly endorsed his art of embellishment, his art of self-congratulations (for nothing or almost nothing). Look at the record of non-achievement and weep. To paraphrase Gore Vidal : "...those in power don't have to conspire because they all think alike." Never was that more true than at our JFNA. If you don't "think alike," you will soon be on the outside looking in. 

When Cicero said of Marcus Aemilius Lepidus he could have been speaking of our Jerry: "Lepidus was the luckiest politician he knew; every time he made a mess of something he was showered with rewards -- 'He is a sort of genius of mediocrity.'" And one has to ask with a certain degree of incredulity: after acknowledging that this should never have been allowed to occur, how can this possibly be allowed to continue? The question is whether, when leadership finally does what it should have done 7 years ago, will it be too late — will it be time for an autopsy…or a cremation. After all, federations have already incinerated close to $700,000,000 in Dues wasted on this thing.

So, friends, those of you who are, as am I, sick to your stomach about the cringe-worthy sclerotic mediocrity that JFNA has been permitted to become, don’t worry, you’re not really ill…it’s just the way things are. Not the way things need to be...just the way things are.



RWEX said...

A Friend of the Blog sent the following in response (only redacted in a small way):

"‎Besides you and a small handful of intermediate city execs I know meet as a "mutual support group", have other lay leaders and professionals ever discussed ending JFNA and recreating UJA and CJF or an entity which actually has the federations' and Israel's collective best interests at heart?

I think the current "amcha" really don't understand since so many are not of the Federation system nor do they have the institutional history of the great accomplishments of JFNA's predecessor organizations and their own federations.

So sad."

The answer is that I know of no such discussion. In fact, as we have observed on these pages many times, there has been no discussion of anything that might reflect on JFNA's purpose, direction or future.

Paul Jeser said...

Isn't it time to call for such a meeting for those concerned with the future?

Anonymous said...

Maybe a more appropriate refrain would be "hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil" except about critics like you. These people probably even believe that the GAs have been inspirational, that FedOvation is something more than best practices and that the 25 FTEs in the Israel Office are all contributing something more arranging speaking dates for JFNA leaders.

Anonymous said...

Richard, what you fail to understand is that the JFNA lay leadership actually, you could say "inter hearts," believe that good things are happening. They may include the Chair's speeches in Jerusalem last month (somehow prove JFNA is "important"), Fedcentral (even though it's nothing more than JFNA stepping away from its responsibilities as a continental organization, They even tell me that the General Assemblies have been great (even though fewer and fewer lay leaders are there and they are sucking more and more dollars away from our charitable purposes) and so on.

It is FantasyLand, of course.

Anonymous said...

Sorry that was supposed to be "in their hearts" in line 1 above.