Monday, May 29, 2017


If you agree with me that JFNA has morphed into Bizarro World,  the following will just be further bizarre chapters among so many.

1. In so many roles, JFNA has some wonderful professional leadership -- William Daroff, Marc Gurvis, Renee Rothstein, Brian Abrahams, among many others. So, the question has to arise: if JFNA has so may good pros in place, why is the organization in such a rut, doing so poorly in so may ways it feels compelled to inflate dismal results and hide so many others from review? You probably know the answer I am about to provide -- Jerry Silverman. For JFNA is the institutional embodiment of the tried  and true maxim: fish rot from the head. And, man, is this fish ever rotten.

2. Then there is the continuing bizarre effort by JFNA to have any relevance whatsoever in the Negev -- be it in the absolute or the relative. JFNA has involved some wonderful federation leaders in manufacturing its own relevance in the Negev where it offers so little -- with minor allocations to a strangely named "Initiative." Viz:
"Federations Playing a Critical Role in Developing the Negev
Vitality Initiative... Michele Levin, vice-chair of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Negev Creative... role the Jewish Federations have played in supporting and strengthening the Negev.  ... Federations Playing a Critical Role in Developing the Negev..."
"Critical role" -- yeah, right. There have been examples through JAFI's P2gether with individual and consortia of federations (in which JFNA has played no role) of important accomplishments but the Negev Vitality Initiative? Really? Instead, as we have written before, JFNA and its Negev Task Force should seriously review the success of JNF, which has made a $65 million investment in Be'er Sheva and an aggregate investment of in excess of $100,000,000 in the Negev, and see if there is a collaborative role that the federations could play through JFNA with JNF going forward. 

I know that JFNA likes to give lip service to "partnerships," and doesn't understand collaboration, but maybe, just maybe, a real  effort here with JNF, an organization that is not only about bragging about its accomplishments but actually having them in the Negev, could benefit our Israeli mishpacha in the Negev. Isn't that what we want to do, even in bizarro world?

3. At the recent Milken Global Conference 2017 our Board Chair moderated a panel with the provocative title: Things That Will Blow Your Mind. God I would have loved to have been there because in Bizarro JFNAWorld Richard's leadership is "blowing my mind" every day. If you ask, or even if you don't, Richard would tell you that when it comes to JFNA "I didn't ask for this job." Well, he took it and he knows what his leadership responsibilities are. Yes, he knows...



Anonymous said...

You likely won't have to wait long for a video of the Milken Conference.

They put most of those online after the conference. They haven't posted the 2017 conference yet

Meanwhile, I am shocked that you reference JNF as an appropriate partner for UJA.

I hope you are aware that Keren Kayemet L'Yisrael (KK"L or as it is known in English as JNF) is among the most corrupt organizations in Israel. If you'd like, I can send you links to multiple Israeli documentaries or news articles about all the malfeasance at KK"L. It is run by a petty crook from the Labor Party who previously ran a regional council in the north. Somehow the fellow lives in a house with a swimming pool that was built on public land and looks more befitting of Boca than Israel.

Meanwhile, JNF in the US, is hardly much better based on a review of its Form 990. It spends about $30 million annually on administrative expenses and only kicks back about $20 million to KK"L projects in Israel. For some odd reason, it gives money to an Osem corporate foundation. It then puts somewhere between $20 to $50 million annually into its bank accounts which exceed $200 million.

Meanwhile, KK"L is the largest land owner in Israel, owning 13% of the country. It regularly sells about 1.2 - 1.4 billion NIS of land annually, dwarfing the donations from the various JNF organizations around the world. The reason KK"L owns the land as opposed to the government is a question of politics at the time of the formation of the State as Ben Gurion's party controlled these pre-state institutions.s

So, why would you want to partner with a corrupt enterprise?

Anonymous said...

Because everything at JFNA is broken but JNF and JAFI are premier organizations, just ask Richard and Paul. And all of JFNA's problems, happened after the merger.
Its all so simple really.

Anonymous said...

Yet there are a few other things that one can garner from the 990. With revenue of $195 mil up from $72 mil the prior year one can assume that there was some very unusual source of revenue. A possible explanation is that they received a very big bequest, or a very big pledge with the grants to be paid out over a period of many years or for some capital project that has not yet been completed. Hence the large amount that went into the investments. Even more important is that one can compare Russell Robinson's relatively average compensation for such a large amount of revenue ($463k) when compared to "Jerry (Worthless) Silverman's estimated compensation at or above $800k on virtually no income directly connected to his role as CEO of JFNA.

paul jeser said...

I am honored to be mentioned together with Richard (Anon 5:29). :-) Thank you!

Anon 2:49 certainly does not have his/her facts correct about JNF/USA. If you look at Charity Navigator - - you will see that the JNF gets 4 Stars (top rating) and spends 81.5% on program expenses.

Obviously Anon 2:49 has a dislike for this strong, important and effective organization.