Tuesday, January 3, 2017


Most of us live within federated communities which pay Dues to JFNA without asking any questions -- because questions are so gauche, you know. You know, like questions of how are those funds spent? Like, what is JFNA doing for our community? In fact, very recently, when a responsible federation board member of one community pushed Jerry Silverman at a federation board meeting on that very question, Jerry was perplexed, then pointed to the new CEO and said: "we led the Search that brought you your new CEO." Jerry didn't mention that JFNA would no longer be providing such CEO searches through Mandel. But, never mind...never ever mind; that's all that Silverman could conjure up in the moment.

We know that JFNA has successfully continued the work of the Washington Office begun under CJF and enhanced through the brilliant leadership of William Daroff; it runs a few national Missions (as the National Campaign Chair pointed out, underpopulated); it provides leadership of National Women's Philanthropy and the Young Leadership Cabinet, the latter of which is but a shadow of its former self; it has begun to revive its moribund Financial Resource Development effort but in all areas, still terribly understaffed, operating at the moment with a cadre of consultants; and it runs a GA where the characters may change but which has become like Groundhog Day

And JFNA has a lot of staff; a lot, a helluva lot, of consultants; and it spends more than the $30.5 million of your budgeted Dues, and another $23 million, more or less, on top of that. Do you know what that $53.5 million is spent on every year because the Annual Budget your community and mine approved has been treated by the CEO as a mere guideline, nothing more. But, friends, really, just as important as what JFNA is doing, is what it is not doing; the areas of services to the federations that it has abandoned or delegated away (and in one instance has done both):

  • It has no functioning Consulting Services operation having left federation professionals to fend for themselves through the sad inanity that is FedCentral. No longer is JFNA capable of answering federations' questions. It must be kind of fun for federation staffers to just go on-line to ask questions like: "How do we run a Super Sunday;" "Any one have suggestions who would be a good campaign event speaker;" "How can we do Giving Tuesday;" "I'm looking for ways to co-brand with affiliates;" "How can my community engage Israelis in the community;" -- and these are but examples of the myriad of questions JFNA staff should have the capacity to be answering. But  it doesn't and it can't.
  • But it is searching for a V-P, Consulting -- one who will report to the Sr. V-P, Marketing and Communications. Insanity and chaos reign.
  • No FRD function for over 2 years --  then JFNA hands it over to a Senior Consultant who hires 2 part-time Consultants to serve communities she selects; then she hires a potentially excellent Senior Vice-President whose first act is to terminate the services of the recently hired V-P, Planned Giving and Endowments, retaining a consultant to run that Department; the Senior Consultant remains on the payroll...and so it goes.
  • It no longer engages in CEO Searches through Mandel or at all -- message to the Federations: "You're on your own."
  • But Mandel remains JFNA's major consultant on so many things...enough said
And, so much more. A succession of GAs that will be remembered for who wasn't there (lay leadership) and what wasn't the focus year-after-year; an Israel Office (P.S. By-Law changes eliminated the pretentious "Global Affairs" prefix reverting to "Israel and Overseas") that continues to be characterized by a bloated staff and a singular failure to offer any impact or, apparently, any guidance; the abandonment of the National Agencies and the theft, for there is no other name for it, of $400,000 from the National Agencies Funding Pool for JFNA's own budget "needs;" and. of course, a CEO/President who evidences all that that position should never be.

And, looking through the rosiest of rose-colored glasses, what does Richard Sandler see? Everything must look just great...just great.



Anonymous said...

Question for the Board Chair: name 1 accomplishment of this CEO since he came to JFNA. Just one.

Anonymous said...

This Silverman has not a single credential that one would expect of an organizational CEO. He lacked them when he was hired and he lacks them today. That he remains the professional head of JFNA is an indictment of those in lay leadership who should be eternally ashamed of themselves. Sandler should either fire Jerry or resign.

Anonymous said...

No functioning JFNA National Rabbinic Cabinet....... while every national Jewish organization seeks to enlist rabbis and synagogues across the religious spectrum, JFNA has abandoned this function on a national level.