Saturday, July 9, 2016


1. Which came first? I recently learned that a former Large City CEO, for whom I had great respect for the manner in which he tried to push his community to meet enormous challenges, and for whom I had tremendous affection as well, is now the CEO of a major funeral home. The logical questions: was one the best preparation for the other? Or were these one and the same jobs?

2. Note to the True Believers: if things are so good, why does it feel so bad?

3. Orwell wrote it, did he have JFNA in mind? "I understand the how; I just don't understand the why." Was Orwell writing about the hiring of Jerry; and then writing about his retention?

4. Is Smilin' Jerry really Chauncey Gardner? You needn't have seen Being There; just trust that JFNA is living it large. Has there been a character who has ever failed upward more than JFNA Jerry? OK, there was Chauncey Gardner, but he was fictional. Just askin'.

5. How does JFNA spend $30 (make that $53) million a year...alright, how are they spending it this year? I know it's impertinent of me; but how? Jodi Schwartz would remember, at least she should, that at UJA, in those days of yore, all  Board members received interim reports of expenditures by Department multiple times a writing. Correct me if I'm wrong but at the JFNA of today the Board receives nothing...and asks for less. 

6. How many consultants does it take to screw in a light bulb? I don't have an answer but, at JFNA, I guess it would be "a lot." We, the JFNA constituency, apparently, have no right to any information about the number of consultants on the payroll and the extent of their compensation and the purposes of their hiring. Transparency at JFNA? You've got to be kidding. More about the Consultants Kingdom coming soon.

7. At the recent JFNA Board meeting there was actually applause and back-slapping over the fact that 62...count 'em, 62...federations were represented at the meeting -- that's 62 of 151!! That's a whopping 41%!! That's not even a quorum approving a so-called "Budget," among other things. So, what the hell were they applauding?? BTW: The Minutes will probably (one never knows) disclose that a JFNA's leaders called this "great." Again, if this is "great," what's "bad?" Never has there been greater disengagement by more federations.

8. Really, what does Deborah K. Smith do for all of that money? Oh, and while you're at it, what does Jerry "Smilin" Silverman do for all of that money? Are we really paying close to $800,000 per year to him just for showing up? For now that Mark Gurvis has apparently taken on all internal management functions, including presenting the Budget to the JFNA Board, what's Jerry doing beyond what passes for "inspiration" JFNA-style? 

Just askin' But, like y'all, I have just read/heard that things at JFNA are just swell. Pass the Kool Aid, brothers and sisters.




Anonymous said...

In item 7 unless things have changed from when I was a federation exec not all 155 federations are represented at the board level. At that time there was a formula by which every large city had two board members, every large intermediate had one representative, all intermediate size cities select 4 representatives to represent all intermediate size communities and the small cities had one representative collectively. I may be wrong about the formula but if this is correct or close to correct the maximum number of cities to be represented on the board is more like about 18 large cities = 36 board members, 20 large intermediates = 20 board members,4 intermediate representatives = 4 board members, and 1 small cities board member equals about 43 actual cities and 61 actual board members. Perhaps what JFNA did is to count those present by the number of cities they represent - sort of like they count delegates at the GA. Example - if the 4 intermediate city representatives were present they represent something like about 25-30 cities. Oh well, it doesn't really matter what the count. If 62 cities were represented shame on them for not doing anything but to sit on their hands (except when applauding themselves), smile, and do exactly as they were instructed.

Anonymous said...

Who is responsible for the JNFA Israel and Overseas Office in Jerusalem? Who supervises it - or does it just supervise itself? Does anybody have a clue as to what work is being done over there? Does anybody have a clue as to what is being accomplished? Does anybody have a clue about how much it costs? Does anybody care? Just askin'.

Anonymous said...

To the last Anonymous (7:34), great rhetorical question. It appears that the simple answer is -- no one is managing the Israel Office -- its bloated staff seems to do whatever it wants and that's just fine for Silverman and Sandler. The latter just sent out a memo from the CEO of the Israel Office (one that summarized a number of actions impacting negatively on the ability of non-Orthodox and women's access to prayer at the Kotel) with compliments as if what was reported was revelatory when all the information therein could have been gathered in New York from media reports and the websites of the affected organizations.

Sandler's public compliments to Becky Caspi for sending a Memo explains a great deal of why the system continues to waste millions on JFNA Global Operations with nothing to show for it.

Anonymous said...

Why can't JFNA work with and through our partner agencies (JDC,JAFI and others) rather than attempting to "invent the wheel" under the JFNA flag?
The JFNA Israel office doesn't even come close to the professional abilities of others and it never will. But I guess the "illusion" that JFNA has its own real JFNA presence in Israel and Overseas is important for marketing and PR - of JFNA of course.
Is this expense (waste) listed under "JFNA Marketing and PR" in the budget? Thats where it should appear because that is all it really is - lots of hipe. Is that what our federations and donors really want JFNA to be spending their money for?

Anonymous said...

JFNA has used consultants quite a bit for some time. From an organizational standpoint, not having them as employees but consultants means that they're off the hook for paying any benefits, Social Security/Medicare/Unemployment taxes.

Anonymous said...

What consultant would work for an amount of money that doesn't factor in the additional costs. While it is off the books it still costs the Jewish people the same or even more since they are not accountable for what they are supposed to do.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 7:34 - absolutely no-one at JFNA - professional staff or lay leadership - appears to be accountable for what they do! Ever!!!!

Anonymous said...

In most organizations whether for-profit or no-for-profit, the Chief Professional Officer must answer to the Senior Volunteer Leader. As I read Richard Sandler's attitude, Silverman answers to no one. At JFNA, for years now, it's as if the sole purpose of the Biard Chair is to protect the CEO from all criticism; a major source of the failure of JFNA in every area. It's pitiful.