Sometimes, well, perhaps often, I feel as if I am the simple child at the Seder forced to ask questions because I just don't understand. And, in JFNA's case, of course, you don't get answers.
I was very upset when Jerry Silverman ordered the Federation-National Agencies Alliance to transfer $400,000 of national agencies' money-- not JFNA's, the National Agencies' money -- to JFNA's Budget for the creation of a Jewish Education Unit. There was crap spewed about the terrible void left when JESNA (once one of those national agencies) shut down and how JFNA was best-positioned to til in the vineyards of community education. It was, to paraphrase what Salieri said of Mozart: "too many...words." The whole idea seemed less than thought through as with so many if not all things JFNA: the theft of $400,000, the need for JFNA to "create" such a "Unit," etc.
And, so it has proved to be.
Yes, while no one was looking this Education Unit has, before it has even gotten off the ground, vamped into the JFNA Education and Community Engagement Unit and it's a farce. Here's how JFNA describes this new "Department's" purpose:
"The Jewish Education and Engagement department empowers and supports Federations as they reach out to Jews wherever they are, giving them the tools they need to live more vibrant and meaningful Jewish lives. It’s an investment in enriching our people and our communities, now and in the future."Yes, in other words -- theirs not mine -- that $400,000 wasn't for Jewish Education at all. The money was stolen from the national agencies under false pretenses; the Budget Committee approved $400,000 for Jewish Education which JFNA has taken and applied to: well, let's call it what it is...bullshit. And, in 2017-2018 and beyond the Alliance has pre-agreed to up the ante to $900,000 per year not even knowing on what the hell the money will be spent. Friends, this is what passes for responsibility and accountability at JFNA.
Yes, I know, who could possibly be against "...reach(ing) out to Jews wherever they are, giving them the tools they need to live more vibrant and meaningful Jewish lives?" But, seriously, does anyone at 25 Broadway, anyone on the JFNA Executive Committee, anyone on the JFNA Board, does the Board Chair or the one Vice-Chair -- do any of these lay or professional leaders ever ask the simple, seminal question: "What specifically are we proposing to be spending, e.g., $400,000 and, then, $900,000 times x years on?" And when the answer is a bunch of eye rolls. say "come back to us with specifics and we'll consider it."
In this case, the system's National Agencies are living off fumes and JFNA Jerry has the temerity to grab $400,000 and then $900,000 x x years of their money for this? Oh, maybe no one is paying attention.
This cannot be permitted -- even at JFNA at its lowest, theft is theft.
It just makes you cry out for adult leadership.