Thursday, November 10, 2016


1. Boy, that JFNA, never runs out of creative ways to self-promote about...nothing. It's always stimulating to read a JFNA publication; it requires analysis and understanding to know the difference between fact and fiction, fantasy and reality. One thing is for sure: those who have been by/at JFNA to assemble its reports can no longer distinguish between those polar opposites: they can no longer distinguish fact from fiction. 

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" demanding pleading that that organization stop sitting on its hands. And, since. After the WZO leadership apparently chose to ignore the JFNA letter -- it seems clear they never responded, JFNA not only did nothing, JFNA didn't even follow up, forgot about it. Yep, just as its support of, e.g., Women of the Wall, dissipated after a feeble, poorly attended but much-hyped  march in Jerusalem in conjunction with a GA; just as what used to be collective responsibility today takes the form of a letter or a Mailbox; just as...nothing follow-up. You recall, I recall...JFNA forgets, neglects, ignores.

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 

Be proud.



Anonymous said...

The Alliance, as you pointed out, has become a joke. When the Alliance version of leadership just handed over $400,000 to JFNA for a non-existent "Education Unit," it violated the totality of the purposes for which the Alliance was created. That "grant" had nothing to do with the National Agencies, it had everything to do with JFNA's internal fund raising failures under Jerry Silverman. My federation, like New York, is giving very serious consideration to withdrawing our support for the Alliance. Someone has to send a message loud and clear to Richard Sandler TO DO SOMETHING other than sitting g out in Los Angeles and pretending everything is just fine.

Anonymous said...

If JFNA saw anything through to its conclusion someone, maybe many, would ask whether anything at all had been gained from its efforts. Someone would actually se what a waste of time the organization is. So it's cleary better to see nothing through to the end and that JFNA does so well.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Richard, you are having an impact of sorts. You posted this on November 10 and, in obvious response, jana suddenly added a letter to the Prime Minister with regard to the Hotel Resolution to the Board agenda -- it did not appear on the Agenda distributed to us Trustees before the Meeting -- there was no notice whatsoever. By the way, the letter is, as is JFNA, worse than weak.