Tuesday, June 20, 2017


While preparing for another move, I have done what all of you have done as well -- combing through files, many ancient, many really ancient, determining which to toss and which to save. And though I had already culled out numerous files and documents in prior moves, I never go through this process without thinking back to other times; and this time was no different.

I found myself reflecting on the reality that not one of the United Jewish Appeal National Campaign Chairs whom I got to know so well over the decades left office without a feeling of incredible accomplishment as well as no small degree of frustration at not being able to accomplish even more. And I began to wonder, not for the first time, as to whether JFNA's succession of Chairs feel frustration as well.

I'm certain that Kathy Manning feels frustration today at the demise of her ill-conceived and terribly implemented Global Planning Table -- after all, she appointed herself as the GPT Chair and, then, nothing happened. But, Kathy has moved on to chair the ambitious Prizmah and we wish her and that organization well.

I don't know if Michael Siegal felt any frustration at the end of his Terms as JFNA Chair -- three years of well-run meetings and good will and the extension of Silverman's contract; three years of meh, of almost no results...no positive results. But, Michael has moved on to the role as Chair of the Jewish Agency Board succeeding one of the most passionate and articulate Jewish leaders, Chuck Ratner, and we wish Michael and that organization well.

These Chairs left Richard Sandler to lead an organization without a soul, and with neither vision, mission nor any evidence of core values. He has been left high and dry by his professional "partner," and together they have stood by while too many in lay and professional leadership look like a bunch of clowns piling out of a VW Beetle. A succession of leaders have allowed JFNA to become unhinged, unconnected from the passions and commitments -- to the federations first and foremost, to the legacy Overseas partners, to Zionism -- yes, the passions and commitments that drove our national system and the leadership of a glorious past discarded like so much litter into the dustbin of history.

Under a succession of leaders JFNA has come to resemble one of those Antarctic glaciers that are so far gone they will continue to melt even were global warming somehow reversed. That JFNA has been permitted to reach the sad state of irrelevance that it is in today is the direct result of leaders unwilling (not unable, mind you, unwilling) to confront these circumstances and exercise the leadership responsibilities with which they have been charged. As one of you recently commented:
"Same s**t...different day! JFNA is useless...helpless...and leadership less! My Federation is tired of paying $200k+ in dues for nothing in return. In fact, outside of FedCentral inane questions and FedWorld emails, my Federation Exec says he never hears from JFNA. A waste of $30 million+ and a waste for our hard locally raised philanthropic dollars."
JFNA is in a perpetual "wash, rinse, repeat" cycle. It is an organization defined by its failures; it doesn't hear federation leaders like the commentator above; its leaders choose to believe that because Dues (most) are dutifully paid, all is well, no need to worry and, certainly, no need to change...no need whatsoever. It remains the payment of those Dues that provides cover to a leadership perfectly willing to ignore all that is wrong...and that is how JFNA shall continue until the plug is pulled rather than until the necessary actions are taken to effect change starting...you and I know where.




Anonymous said...

So what else is new?

Anonymous said...

You hire a shoe salesman as CEO of a communal organization, you get what you deserve.

Anonymous said...

It's all about the dues, and until some federations start reducing their annual tab, nothing will change.
Jerry Silverman may be incompetent, but he isn't stupid: Look at the money he is making; and don't think for a minute that he would be paid that amount if the JFNA budget was $15 million.
It just takes one federation to get the ball rolling.
Just think of what could be done with other $15 million in the coffers of the federations?

Anonymous said...

I attended the recent Board meeting;I will never attend another. These leaders are interested only in talking to and among themselves.

Anonymous said...

4:05 You attended and didn't speak but you write here. Shame on you!!!

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:58, give Anon 4:05 a break; no JFNA board member has spoken up in the last 6 years.