Was this an attempt at transparency, inasmuch as JFNA had never engaged its Trustees in this way on a By-Laws change before, or was there something more (or less)? Was there some Draconian action contemplated by JFNA's lay and professional leaders or was this a welcome gesture of inclusion, or both? Or is it a reflection that so little is going on at JFNA that this non-event rises to the top in importance. (Yes, we know that By-Laws changes require notice to the Trustees in advance.)"Dear Large Federation Presidents, Executives & Trustees,As you know JFNA has been conducting a comprehensive review of the organization's bylaws. The proposed amended bylaws will be brought to the Board of Trustees and Federation Members Corporation for approval at the GA on November 14.In advance of that meeting, we are holding city size conference calls with Federation Presidents, Executives & Trustees to discuss the proposals.The large federations call is scheduled for Friday, October 7th at 11am ET.The bylaws documents will be provided well in advance of the call."
Well, last time JFNA dipped into the By-Laws revisions "game," in that process led by Richard Sandler before he moved up to Board Chair, the By-Laws eliminated the Chair of the Executive, vesting all lay "power" in the Chair. (Of course we know the mantra -- what good is having the power if one is not going to use it for good?). In theory, the now eliminated Executive Committee Chair was to be a check and balance on the Board Chair and, as the intent was to have an "operational executive," a check on the CEO as well. Inasmuch as the only times I saw a Chair of the Executive do more than carry the Chair's water, was during Sonny Plant's, z'l, terms; or when Kathy Manning thought she was the Board Chair.
Bizarre in my experience is that the current Board Chair effectively re-appointed himself (or just chose to continue a process he began before his Chairmanship began) By-Laws Chair as well, continuing his role begun under Michael Siegal -- bizarre in that I have never seen, in any non-profit on whose Board I have served, the chief volunteer officer assigned himself such a responsibility; then again, inasmuch as Richard has decided to look the other way while his CEO continues to flail in organizational mediocrity, he obviously has time for this. Was there some unfinished business from the prior administration?
So, in the ordinary course of business, the Board adopted the further By-Laws changes. Neither you nor I could possibly object to governance changes that make JFNA more efficient, but isn't it legitimate to question: efficient to what end? Best I can tell, JFNA is now an even more efficient vehicle; yet, and as usual, it is a vehicle delivering almost nothing. Strong on governance; short on substance.
It's clear, after a reading of the proposed changes that the amended By-Laws reflect Richard Sandler's expressed desire for a more efficient and streamlined JFNA. Seeing as he has already determined that the organization doesn't need a CEO inasmuch as it's doing just fine without one, you wouldn't think that anything more would be necessary, would it?
I guess so.
2. Then there is this: what the hell does Smilin' Jerry do to earn that excessive close to $800,000 (+/-) annual "gift" from the federations that is his compensation? Is it writing those periodic outbursts "From the Desk of" sermonettes?
We haven't a clue what Jerry does -- it's certainly not that which any of his predecessors has done, not at all. But we do know that the Smilin' One does serve on the Boards of organizations like LeadingEdge, the start-up offering, among other things, on-boarding professionals for future service as non-profit CEOs (something for which he is uniquely unprepared). We do know that he demands being on the invite list for any and all White House meetings that William Daroff can arrange for him. And we know, because he must be doing this to keep his job, he has been incredibly gifted at kissing up to JFNA lay leadership and the Large City Executives because nothing further could explain how he keeps his job. Friends, as has been said about others, there is a widespread belief that Jerry Silverman "...couldn't find India if he were dropped at the Taj Mahal."
This is a mystery that will never be solved. NEVER.
3. Arlene Berland has been serving the Jewish People for a remarkable 43 years. She is retiring after those 4+ decades of service on the staffs of UJA and, then, JFNA. I had the pleasure of working with Arlene many, many times -- she exemplified the true beauty of the lay-professional partnership. The last time we worked together was on the 2007 Prime Minister's Mission when, as was always the case, she would gently remind me that there were lay leaders to whom we should reach out to join us -- she always demonstrated a remarkable insight based on years of experience working in our treasured partnership with lay and professional leaders around the country. I know that every National Campaign Chair was the beneficiary of Arlene's professionalism. She will be so missed. Kal ha'kavod to Arlene upon her retirement.
4. You are such perceptive followers of this Blog. In response to the Post on WZO, one of you (G-d, I wish it hadn't been anonymously) pointed out the reality that as the WZO has decided to go into direct competition with the Jewish Agency, its continuing control (through its own voting rights and the voting control it maintains over Keren Ha'Yesod) of JAFI'S ultimate governance is a blatant conflict of interest that can only be resolved, in this writer's opinion, by the withdrawal by WZO from the governance and affairs of the Jewish Agency.
And, where, if anywhere, might the impetus for such a movement arise? From JFNA? Maybe in another lifetime. From KH? Maybe in another lifetime (although KH leaders have, over time, demonstrated periodic ncidents of thought and action that suggest that they might stand tall. Unfortunately, KH, even more so than JFNA/federations, has almost ceased, on a relative basis, its "free dollar" funding (undesignated) of the Jewish Agency.
All of this suggests a stasis that plays directly into the hands of the apparachniks at WZO. Exactly what they expected.