I am so sorry that we missed one another by phone these last couple of days. I am certain you had something you wanted to talk to me about; I have things to speak to you about…always it seems. I know you are neither a “friend” of my Blog nor even a reader unless some one brings it to your attention; so I am sending you this Draft Post which I will soon publish; I hope you will read it:
I know you will disagree but I believe JFNA is in deep, deep crisis and I also strongly believe that you are the leader who can do something about that crisis. I have learned from friends around the country that JFNA Dues payments are being partially withheld in a number of communities (just as your federation, Los Angeles, withheld Dues payments a few years ago until a deal was reached); leaders of JAFI and JDC are complaining (in private at present) about the lack of support they are receiving even as your message is that “relations have never been better;” if Trump Administration priorities are implemented, the social service safety net that federations have created with JFNA’s important help will be devastated, and there will be a federation crisis of proportions never before experienced and JFNA is unprepared give guidance; and, among other things, JFNA not only no longer supports the growth and education of communal professionals, even the Mandel Foundation has announced it is filling the void totally independent of JFNA. (see, http://ejewishphilanthropy.com/who-will-you-nominate/?utm_source=April+28%2C+2017&utm_campaign=Fri+Apr+28&utm_medium=email) Though there is so much more, Richard, you are aware, certainly, that the Community Consulting Services function, once JFNA’s strength, is a void but for FRD’s sending two part-time consultants, both superb, out into the field where they work with two or three communities each at any one time.
If you believe that I am wrong about any of these, then I would tell you to consider your source(s). If you (or any one) believes that I enjoy being a constant critic, then neither you nor they know me at all. As I told you when we met in Santa Monica so long ago now, I wanted you to succeed in your leadership and, in so leading, I want JFNA to succeed. As you wrote before you took office, your leadership style is to identify the right professionals and give them the tools to succeed; and that might work if you had the right professional leader in place — at 25 Broadway it has all gone wrong and the chief professional officer has failed…and nothing happens…nothing at all. Now is the time for you to intercede. (I haven’t a clue how Jay Sanderson feels about Jerry Silverman’s professional leadership but Jay has tried, I know, to work with Jerry. Ask Jay for a candid appraisal.)
Richard, if asked I will do everything that I can out of my experience to make of JFNA a success from the inside. All I can do is offer to help from far outside.
Warm regards and Shabbat shalom,
To me, the most amazing aspect of the failure that is the JFNA of today is that this lay leadership has been willing, even anxious, since Michael Siegal assumed the Chair through today, to hand Jerry Silverman a tabula rasa, a literal blank slate, one that any other chief professional officer would have attempted to fill with excellence, with creativity, with substance. And how has Jerry Silverman filled this blank slate? It's still empty, 8 years into two contract terms, filled with failure and bullshit. Three years into Silverman's first Contract term, all of his management responsibilities were turned over to Mark Gurvis, while Jerry received ever-escalating compensation; now 8 years in, Jerry is available to speak almost anywhere, for a photo op almost anywhere -- as someway wrote me, "Jerry would show up for the opening of an envelope." For Jerry Silverman these 8 years have been treasure trove, found money; for JFNA an egregious waste of precious resources and time neither of which will ever be recaptured.
Friends, any one who really knows me and knows what motivates me knows that if Richard Sandler called me today and said "Richard, we want you to come to 25 Broadway and help straighten out the mess that we have there," I would be there the next day. I would hit the ground running. And, I wouldn't be the only one. Do I expect that to happen? Sure, when pigs (sorry) fly.
Now there are less than 18 months left in Silverman's second contract Term. The temptation to just let this Term run out and say good-bye or to further renewal must be great given that 8 years of organizational ineptitude and back-sliding have not pushed a succession of Board Chairs to do anything about this leadership void. But a guy can hope...