Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Our friends at ejewishphilanthropy were the vehicle for the announcement of the demise of JFNA; or what should be the death throes but, of course, will just be treated with another shrug of the shoulders and a "who cares?" On Friday, April 28, ejp published an announcement from the Mandel Foundation:http://ejewishphilanthropy.com/who-will-you-nominate/?utm_source=April+28%2C+2017&utm_campaign=Fri+Apr+28&utm_medium=email

Yes, therein Mandel announced its Executive Leadership Program for mid-career Federation and JCC professional leaders -- you know, announcing that the Foundation would be doing exactly...precisely...what JFNA should be doing, would be doing in partnership with the federations' Continental vehicle, if it still existed. The fact that the the Mandel announcement didn't even mention JFNA would be a devastating message about JFNA's state of irrelevance were anyone at all paying any attention to the void at 25 Broadway. 

I speak to federation leaders all the time; so do you. And if you mention JFNA, almost to a person, all you get is a wince, eyes roll and the response generally is "...let's talk about something, anything else." Try it. There's no pride in the organization -- none -- where there should be pride and embrace and a "look what the organization is doing for us." If you speak with leaders of JAFI and JDC in private you hear pleas for meaningful advocacy and desperate cries for increased support; and no expectation that anything at all can be expected of JFNA.. Friends, as all of you who read this Blog with regularity realize, there is not one...not a single...area of what all of us intended JFNA to be (other than its efforts in Washington) where JFNA is functioning with excellence, if it is functioning at all.

  • Professional education and support -- nothing
  • Community consulting -- nothing
  • Financial Resource Development and Planned Giving and Endowment -- under construction without budgetary support necessary to hire the best and brightest under a new Senior Vice-President while the FRD COO is leaving at month's end
  • Israel Advocacy -- almost nothing at all
  • Emergency assistance -- Mailboxes...mailboxes
  • Lay leader education and support -- nothing
  • Missions -- no Prime Minister's Mission, no Israel (but we like India and Argentina), communities going their own way -- almost nothing
  • General Assemblies -- abject failures year-after-year
  • Self-promotion -- great work
Passion, engagement -- both gone.

Look, JFNA was created to serve the federations, to strengthen them in every important way -- more donors, more dollars, grow and intensify our communities relationship to and engagement with Israel, increase the level of and opportunities for communal professionals, innovate outreach to the next generation. It has failed in every one of these areas -- in particular over the past 8 years. 

There is a group of excellent professionals at 25 Broadway anxious to serve the federations. Yet, there sits a CEO who still, after 8 years, hasn't a clue. And, where are the lay leaders, where are the men and women who should be the partners in a proud and creative effort in policy-making and accountability? They are nowhere to be found...nowhere...except shrugging off all efforts to inform change as nothing more than assaults on their integrity.

My friends, for another organization the Mandel announcement would be the ultimate wake-up call. It is the announcement that JFNA requires a complete professional restructuring top-to-bottom. That announcement isn't a dog whistle, heard only by the few, it's bugle call, a shot across the bow, a slap in the face. But, if the past is prologue, JFNA's leaders will hear nothing.

If only Richard Sandler and his leaders at the top of the JFNA food chain hear the call and actually exercise their responsibilities.

Probably and sadly...they won't.



Anonymous said...

Hmmmm...less and less comments...

Anonymous said...

To Anon 11:26: Hmmmm...maybe only reason that there are less comments is that people simply agree with what is being posted and are getting tired of it being ignored.

The time has now come to do something about this mess - to stand up and shout out that this is unacceptable and to demand that the lay leaders representing us put a stop to it!
There is a board meeting in New York a week from Sunday. Is there any chance that our representatives on the board will have the courage to stand up and demand serious discussion and radical change?
Let's stop being "polite" and stop ignoring what we have a responsibility to change!