Sunday, January 22, 2017


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.



Anonymous said...

Richard, there is only one thing that will force the leadership of JFNA to address these absurd issues that nobody cares about. And that is when someone with the financial gravitas in their local federation, like a Les Wexner (wouldn't he be the best, given Jerry's admiration of his accomplishments) says "Enough is Enough, this is wrong, I'm pulling my gift to the Federation until I am convinced that JFNA, who gets its dues from a portion of my gift, gets its act together".
Wexner, The Mandel Family, Tisch, etc.; get one to start the ball rolling, and then perhaps some JFNA lay leader will take their head out of the sand and have the courage to challenge the absurdities that are allowed to take place.
Anything short of that......well, we all know where we are.

Anonymous said...

I don't think any of these people would ever "punish" the rest of the Jewish world because of JS or JFNA by pulling their gift to the federation. What would have an impact would be if they would stop giving it to the federation and direct it however they wish to the organizations they want to support either directly or indirectly if the federation would in fact honor the request.

Anonymous said...

And Anon 12:59 suggests exactly what could happen -- donors reducing their federation gifts and redirecting those gifts to the agencies -- and what The Alliance was created to avoid. As Richard pointed out, because jana has not only not imposed any discipline of The Alliance3 and has actually stolen the Agencies money from them, the federations will pay the price in the end.

Does Sandler even understand what's been going on?

Anonymous said...

Sandler's response: "I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing!"
(credit to Hogan's Heroes Sgt. Schultz)

Anonymous said...

From Anon 8:43-Thank you for clarifying what I really intended. I wasn't in any way suggesting that these donors stop giving to the causes that they want to support.

Anonymous said...

this blog sometimes seems to love "agencies" more than Federations. If JFNA is helping Federations do better Jewish engagement work -- great. The concept of Federations providing auto-pilot support to a bunch of national orgs because they're on an historic national list makes no sense in 2017. Mindless pass-through philanthropy doesn't work anymore and certainly doesn't help Federations prove their value proposition; creating quality programming engaging Jews just might.

RWEX said...

Friend, I appreciate your perspective but you have missed my point.

In addition, these agencies ar5e not receiving "mindless pass through" dollars; they have been vetted (almost endlessly) and found to serve the federation agenda.