Wednesday, April 26, 2017


I have been pondering the question of how we can measure the importance of our communities' Continental instrument, The question arose in my fertile mind in response the frequent "highlights" on the JFNA homepage, "headlines" in the captive FedWorld rag, and in the Twitterworld of meetings our professional and lay leaders have attended. Like this one:
"Leaders of national Jewish organizations, including JFNA and SCN, met with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to discuss federal law enforcement’s support for Jewish institutions."
JFNA was there. It appeared that the meeting was very brief inasmuch it was to discuss the bomb threats against Jewish institutions -- threats that had ceased when the FBI secured the arrest in Israel of the alleged Jewish Israeli teenage culprit over one week before this meeting. Maybe the meeting was to allow our organizational leadership to thank the Attorney General...or maybe not. 

This was not the first meeting on this subject. I recall a meeting weeks earlier with FBI Director Comey that provided CEO Jerry with a photo op at one end (the one closest to the camera) of a conference table. It was a meeting designed to thank the Director for the FBI's hard work. Jerry just had to be there.

Maybe, at a time like this -- well, like the last 7+ years, actually -- when the organization is a mess, providing neither direction nor service to its federation owners, at least nothing approaching $30 million, not near $30 million, wouldn't you think that our leaders would be focused on assuring the federations that JFNA can respond to our needs in substantive ways. And, yet, without any sense of embarrassment, they substitute "public appearances," drafting papers "From the Desk of...," and, of course photo ops for that substance.

Oh, and Jerry has time to serve on the Board of LeadingEdge's CEO OnBoarding thing even as and after the JFNA he allegedly leads totally abandon...CEO on-boarding; he has time to fly to D.C. just to be marked "present" at meetings that could just as well, surely better, be attended by the lead pro at JFNA-Washington, or, as luck would have it, the lay Chair of JFNA-Washington's legislative effort, a highly respected D.C. lawyer. The waste is matched only by the lack of judgment. 

Apparently JFNA's leaders measure the importance of the organization not by its work, not by its service to the federations but by how times JFNA is mentioned in JTA or The Forward or the Jerusalem Post, et al. Perhaps this is why Board Chair Sandler issued his own statement on pending federal legislation in The Hill (JFNA doesn't seem to care how obscure or niche the publication is -- psssst, Richard, if you want, this Blog, certainly the  most obscure of publications, would be pleased to publish anything you write at any time [and you won't have to identify your position at JFNA, everyone who reads this knows exactly whom you are].) 

For Richard Sandler and Jerry Silverman, when it comes to Statements, do as we say not as we do. But what they do is the best evidence that the organization hasn't a clue what it (or they) should be/could be doing.



Anonymous said...

Silverman measures his importance by press mentions; double points if it includes a photo. Quadruple at the White House.

Anonymous said...


This Silverman is such a waste of money. No other organization (except maybe ZOA) would pay this kind of money with nothing in return.You suggest that Silverman can't look himself in the mirror without seeing what a waste he has made of an organization that might have accomplished something under another. How Sandler looks himself in the mirror is another matter entirely -- he is all of the things a strong or even weak Board Chair shouldn't be.

No organization, not even JFNA, deserves leaders like these.

Anonymous said...

If you are measuring importance, the data offer a simple result: JFNA has no importance in the most vital of areas. There is no longer community consulting, there is no institutional influence within the Jewish Agency or Joint as what once were serious allocations have quite literally disappeared, the organization has abandoned the profession. It is as if JFNA no longer exists while it collects tens of millions annually for its own purposes not those of the federations. Why doesn't it just go away?