Friday, October 7, 2016


Recently, I published a Post It's Kaddish for the Lay-Professional Partnership. In that piece I suggested that lay leadership has been in large measure responsible for this deconstruction in their willingness to delegate their fiduciary duties to their CEOs, happy to shpil nachas rather than put in the heavy lifting required to engage in a true partnership with their professional cohorts.

In thinking this over, I have concluded that in too many instances we have seen JFNA lay leaders and those at the federation level attempt to dictate to those pros who should be their partners as if they are but scriveners. And the results have been disastrous -- disastrous not just for the lay-professional partnership but for our institutions. Examples?
  • Of course the primary example was the dictation so evident in the creation of the Global Planning Table, probably the least thought through multi-million dollar disaster yet from the Continental entity;
  • At the outset of JFNA the Board Chair tried to insert his personal choice, a prima facie case of the inept and inexperienced, as CEO. When that failed, he successfully pushed her as COO where she lasted for only months;
  • There was the selection of Rabbi Lord Sacks as the preeminent Plenary speaker for this year's GA. We have been advised from outside and inside JFNA that Sacks' selection was demanded by a GA Co-Chair over the objections of the JFNA professionals;
  • Back in the dying days of the infamous ONAD "process" ONAD's lay Chair attempted to ignore the vote of his own Committee in pressing a short-sighted personal agenda;
  • We have seen federations where, by dint of the size of their gifts, lay chairs have overridden Committee and Board decisions with which they disagreed and in other instances have unilaterally canceled Board meetings when they proved to be "inconvenient" -- in these instances and others the lay leaders demonstrated a lack of any understanding of their role...or they just didn't give a damn...or both
  • And more
And, each and every overreach by lay leaders whose lack of understanding of our system parallels or exceeds that of the professionals they have either ignored or to whom they have dictated has been fodder to those other professionals who have consequently concluded that "we can't leave this to the lay leadership." Now, they might have come to that conclusion absent the cited inanities, but those serious missteps of the leadership laity are impossible to pass over as contributors to the professionals' rationalization.

Just listen to the discussions at JFNA meetings as to whose voices are loudest; just recall whose voice demanded that questions on the Budget at a Budget and Finance Committee meeting be cut off; just remember who have articulated "red lines that shall not be crossed" at meetings too numerous to mention; and more and more while the voices of lay leadership are silent. 

Yes, we have acquiesced by our continuing silence. Some would call it cowardice.


No comments: