You may recall that a few months ago JFNA published a glossy pamphlet titled: 2016 Financial Resource Development Directory of Programs and Services. It was sure pretty, 33 pages of mainly Missions and calendars and a staff directory (one of the most amusing reads -- it included an Executive Assistant to the Senior FRD Consultant who herself then has her own Executive Assistant). Maybe Brian Abrahams will lend some real substance to the non-existent FRD effort of the last few years; then, maybe Brian will report to Vicki Agron who is still listed in the JFNA Staff Directory as "Senior Consultant."
OK, so that "Directory" must have proved very attractive, at least to its authors, because lo and behold just prior to Rosh Ha'Shana 2016 you received an even thicker, glossy publication, the 2016 JFNA Directory of Support Services and Programs. This one -- 76 pages of fact and fiction deserving of reading and derision...or, at the least, serious questions.
2. You may remember the brouhaha over the WZO's refusal to support assistance for Holocaust Survivors -- you may remember, but, clearly, JFNA has forgotten. As in all things, JFNA summoned the strength to send a pathetic letter to WZO leadership "kind of"
3. You will also remember that there once was a functioning, even vital National Agencies-Federations Alliance which succeeded the Large Cities Budgeting Conference at the onset of JFNA and then the organization just watched it collapse. Its original purpose, to vet the validity and budgets of the system's created National Agencies ignored; its assigned staff member, a great professional, solely dedicated to The Alliance terminated as The Alliance's work became the part-time function of a JFNA-Washington staffer; its membership shrunken as federations withdrew their support; and the obligation to recruit additional federation participants to expand the funding pool, ignored. Since the merger, The Alliance has shrunk to a parody of itself in its import, in its relevance -- it is the JFNA-Mini Me. Now, New York-UJA, which for years had pressed The Alliance to expand its federation membership so as to relieve New York from the burden of being the disproportionally largest National Agencies funder, has said: "no more." Yet, with no plan for doing so, The Alliance has proceeded to:
- Bring new Agency members into The Alliance -- members from outside the Federation system -- American Jewish World Service and the BBYO. Both superb organizations in their fields of interest...but...really? Needing Alliance financial support? Really?
- Allocate $400,000 to JFNA itself -- not a national Agency -- said The Alliance became the JFNA ATM to fund the "new" and undefined Jewish Education and Planning Unit. And, of courser, since JFNA further drained the already shrunken Alliance National Agency Funding Pool:
- The National Agencies the funding for which the Alliance was created will receive less funds;
- JFNA need not raise any money for its own Unit inasmuch as JFNA has found a "new source" to drain; and
- How's that new "Unit" doing? Well, there's this: a Mandel professional heads the "Unit;" and, though it must be a secret, the Chicago Federation staff was raided by JFNA cherry-picking a superb young professional whom I can only presume is hard at work in this "Unit" -- on what? We aren't supposed to know.
4. And, finally, testing our memory once again, last week Prime Minister Netanyahu, reacting to a major protest at the Kotel of his Government's failure to implement the compromise approved by his Government last January to create a space adjacent to the Western Wall that assured egalitarian access for prayer, strongly criticized leaders of the non-Orthodox Movements in America. We all recall that this was a cause embraced by JFNA, including a supportive march to the Wall in conjunction with a Jerusalem GA (a March by the way that attracted a few hundred people but did get CEO Jerry's photo in Israeli newspapers [so it was a "success"]). But that was before JFNA turned as always to the next bright. shiny object and just marched away. Its embrace of Women of the Wall all but forgotten.
Yes, it's nuts. it's sad...but it is JFNA