Saturday, February 4, 2017


Anyone who reads this Blog thing regularly knows of my continuing pride to live within the boundaries of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. One of my great joys was to have played a leadership role there. Now I have the greatest pride and joy in seeing how the great tradition and values that were passed on to me and my generation of leadership continue to reside dor l'dor. Friends, it's so beautiful to behold.

In the wake of the actions of the Trump Administration that brought tens of 1000s out in protest, and saw many of my former partners to airports to assist those unlawfully denied entry to the United States or at risk of deportation, the Chicago Federation issued a statement built upon more than a century of assisting immigrants regardless of religion or country of origin. That statement read in pertinent part:
"The Federation has encountered--and overcome--policy, budget, and other obstacles over the decades, but has never wavered in its commitment to fulfill this sacred Jewish and American task.  On behalf of the Jewish community, the Federation is proud of this accomplishment and pledges to continue this important work. 

The Federation welcomes America's refugees who have passed the most thorough vetting process of any group of foreigners seeking to come to our country and applauds the statements from many Jewish and non-Jewish groups that are now speaking out on this issue.

Every public policy should be reviewed and strengthened, especially when it involves our security.  However, the administration's sweeping, sudden, and uncoordinated executive order undermines the noble ideal of our nation serving as a safe harbor for those fleeing persecution and directly imperils the Federation's work on their behalf.  The Federation opposes policies that bar or privilege certain groups of refugees solely because of their religion or country of origin.  It is the well-founded fear of persecution by any country against any minority that has long inspired America to provide refuge."
I commend this Statement of principles and values to every federation and, of course, to JFNA. I know that many federations have already spoken out as has Chicago. I see no reason whatsoever that our Continental body, speaking on behalf of all of the communities doesn't rouse from its slumber to assert our continental commitment to our national, continental and communal values embodied in "caring for the strangers" among us. And, in keeping with its steadfast commitment to silence, even its captive FedWorld has failed to link the readers to federations which have spoken out on our values.

Chicago, and, likely, your federation as well, "has never wavered in its commitment;" yet, our umbrella organization, the one that should have absorbed all...all...of our values and should be able to assert them, lacks any commitment to anything whatsoever.

Yes, the fact...the very fact...that a Statement was not adopted, was not even considered, by the JFNA Board at its Retreat a little more than one week ago, on the heals of the President's Executive Order that impacted on 1000's of refugee families.  We either have values or we don't; we either stand up or we don't. There's just no explaining the continuing institutional silence in the face of...everything and anything.

Everything and anything.



Anonymous said...

From Reuters:

For those who say "This is not who we are," look again. Sadly, it’s who we’ve always been.

President Donald Trump's executive order banning travelers and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries is only the latest twist of dark threads that have long been present in America. The executive order is not unprecedented. It is evolutionary.

The countries affected by Trump's executive order – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – have been singled out under American immigration law since the days following 9/11.

But let’s be more specific. Trump’s executive order only lists Syria by name. It refers to the other countries in reference to a 2015 Obama-era law, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12). (And the list thus has nothing to do with any of Trump’s business interests. He did not create it, nor is he the first American president to omit Saudi Arabia from post-9/11 scrutiny.) That list, part of the Orwellian-named Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, disallows use of America's visa-free travel program to persons who even once visited the targeted nations. So, for example, British citizens otherwise eligible to enter the United States without a visa must instead appear for questioning and be individually approved for an actual printed visa in their passport at an American embassy or consulate abroad. The rule applies even if their travel was as a journalist or member of a volunteer health team.

Though Trump in his crude style proposes "extreme vetting," such a process has been in place since the George W. Bush administration, continued under Barack Obama, and is operating today. It too has an Orwellian name, "administrative processing." Among the nations affected: those same seven countries. People from these nations go through an alternate visa procedure that delays their travel as they wait to be vetted by various intelligence agencies. Some applications are left to pend indefinitely.

There were no mass dissent memos filed by State Department employees over any of those steps.


Let's be honest. This is no more than reflexive liberal outrage of Chicgo's native son no bestie of Federation types being pushed out.
It is at best disingenuous and at worst hypocritical

And where was your vaunted Federation when Chicago's favorite son refused to establish no-fly zones, directly leading to the deaths of at least 500,000, if not a multiple of that?

I write this as a child of holocaust survivors who is much much closer to being a beneficiary of immigration than you.

But then again, the historical record shows nary a Jewish criticism of Roosevelt, the great liberal savior, who closed America's shores to my grandparents who were killed in the camps and refused to even bomb those camps, making excuses about logistics even while American bombs landed in them by accident.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:40 is way off base and totally out of line. He/she hides behind being a second generation survivor to deflect the real issue and to rationalize his/her support for a person who is breaking any number of laws, mistreats women, the disabled, any number of minorities and lies about virtually everything, not to mention the horrific people he is surrounding himself with. In doing so he/she fails to recognize that a federal court has ruled this EO as illegal and probably unconstitutional. He/she states or implies that because Obama developed the list and a process for vetting that it is okay and furthermore implies that nobody objected. I have no doubt that if anything Obama did was illegal the Republican obstructionists would have had him jailed or worse.

Kol Ha-kovod to you, Richard, for pointing out the inadequacies of our JFNA, to your federation and others that have spoken up, protested, assisted, or in any way objected to this ego maniac, his actions and the people advising him.

Anonymous said...

If we can set aside the political "issues" here for a moment, are there any matters of principle, core value of federations, to which JFNA leadership must respond without regard to how that reaction might be perceived and acted upon by a given Administration in Washington? When Chicago and many others speak out of principle, JFNA's silence here shows how devoid of principle it is.

This cannot continue. Anyone counseling sheket on this matter has forgotten the lessons of history, our history and ought to be ashamed,

Anonymous said...

Richard, I am a lay Board member at my Federation. I have heard that when federation pros are calling Silverman who then discourages their communities from issuing their own Statements ala Chicago. Apparently individual federation statements like this "embarrass" Silverman. Unconscionable.

Anonymous said...

For JFNA to sit in silence on a refugee issue, politics aside, suggests or proves, your choice, that this organization doesn't understand the values that have moved federations from their creation to today and, that being the case, JFNA needs not exist. It is but a shadow of the predecessor organizations but, unlike them, it stands for nothing.

Any federation paying Dues without demanding a moral return if nothing else is breaching its duty to its donors.

Why do we perpetuate its sorry existence?

Anonymous said...

Not hard to figure this one out. Could it be that JFNA has established a back door to the Trump White House? If so, good behavior is the price of entry.

Anonymous said...

You would think they would be in a better position to electrify the community if they showed some courage, passion and morality. Young people will go elsewhere to find that.

Anonymous said...

Federations should be about deeds not words. Do you all want Federations to becomd JCPA or AJC? We have a different mission and if you want Federations to issue statements over this Presidency they will be challenged to do their work.
Watch out what you wish for!

Anonymous said...

When some, like the last Anonymous, makes arguments over policies of any President into "statements over this Presidency," then stupidity triumphs over rational thought and there will be no policy, no matter how that policy impacts on our values, can ever be opposed.

Anonymous said...

Silverman is more interested in an invite to the WH Chanukah party, and photo ops with Presidents and Prime Ministers, than in having JFNA stand for ANYTHING!

Anonymous said...

Is there something in JFNA's By-Laws that mandates that at every turn the organization must do exactly the wrong thing? North American Jews are a population of or born of immigrants, of refugees. If we do not speak up for that population, then we are, regardless of our politics, demeaning the legacy of freedom passed down to us from our parents and grandparents. Shame on JFNA but, more so, shame on us for enabling this JFNA so-called leaders to maintain their ugly silence.