Monday, July 17, 2017


I find myself in kind of a daily jaw-dropping condition -- not jaw-dropping in awe, however --  it's a condition arising out of the daily shock of reality that there is no one in the ever-tightening JFNA lay leadership "circle of trust" willing to confront that change will only occur if and when, well, when change actually occurs.

I, of course, have been instructed for years, really beginning long before this Blog began, to in other words, of course, "just shut up." "Go sit in the corner, be quiet and don't say a word." I have been told by one Board Chair to stop offering my help to the organization. And, the same message has been delivered in other words, of course, to so may lay and professional leaders across the Continent.

I have been told by friends, leaders I respect, to, among other things, "resign from the JFNA Board" (I hold nothing more than a non-voting Honorary Board seat) and that "it's more effective to express any criticism more gently and always privately." And, with a certain regularity, I have been told "stop this Blog." This is the same message, though less direct, that anyone who questions the non-/mal-/misfeasance of the JFNA leadership cabal hears.

Those in JFNA leadership may not understand what their attempts at intimidation breed: not just alienation but disengagement. This is the kind of disengagement that in fully evidenced in the decline of lay leader attendance at Board meetings, Retreats and General Assemblies. But, instead of any introspection, the JFNA pro and lay cabal choose to continuously pat themselves on the back and proceed forward sideways.

And, the lay leader side of the equation is made up of those who, in the largest measure, are exemplars of local federation leaders. (I am amazed [not in a good way] that JFNA would possibly consider for its next Board Chair one who has never chaired a local federation.) Yet, when elevated to the Continental JFNA Board and, especially, that tightly wound "circle of trust," they seem to have left all that they have experienced and led locally behind, becoming but part of the flock of sheep following without question down paths that they know lead nowhere.

In the first years post-merger, the continental lay leadership and federation professional leadership came to a common conclusion that JFNA required a new CEO. And those leaders imposed their will on the system to assure both a soft landing for the CEO being succeeded and that one of the best and brightest of federation CEOs would step in in a seamless manner. In that instance the Board Chair and the Chair of the Executive understood what had to be done...and they did it. Today that same consensus has existed for years dating back to the end of Jerry's first contract, yet, the then Board Chair allowed himself to be held captive to the caprice of an even smaller cabal than exists today and an inability to identify a successor who might hit the ground running. And, now, with maybe 18 months left on Silverman's second "term," knowing that JFNA has moved from stasis to catastrophe under this CEO, JFNA's lay leadership are frozen as if in amber.

What has this so-called "leadership" wrought through its non-/mal-/mis-feasance? Here are some real issues for the communities: 

  • the National Agencies -- all of them -- once the beneficiaries of a National Agencies Funding Pool of significant size, are now approaching the federations for direct funding. JFNA, rather than encouraging the participation of more communities and greater funding from the extant members, presided over the "theft" from that Pool of hundreds of thousands of dollars for its own Budget. The Alliance is now collapsing, New York UJA-Federation is pulling its outsized funding and, when it does so in the next Fiscal Year, a funding vehicle that had worked for over three decades will be dead and buried.
  • JAFI/JDC/WorldORT have not sat by while JFNA presided over the diminution of core budget funding to its lowest levels ever. These three legacy "partners" have grown their financial resource development and are in our communities seeking major gifts while JFNA has spent two years "jump-starting" an Envoys program in which the federations seem uninterested.
  • The Israel Action Network -- a "partnership" between JFNA and JCPA -- was originally to be fully funded from the JFNA Budget and stag=ffed by JCPA. The agreement to do so collapsed as JFNA "couldn't afford" to meet its full funding responsibilities. JFNA has now effectively cut the IAN loose to raise its own resources from the communities. So, IAN representatives will soon be visiting your community to raise funds.
  • The Secure Community Network -- likewise; and
  • On and on into the abyss.
JFNA's answer is of course, "it's the Federations fault."

This catastrophe has to end.



Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, kudos to AIPAC for standing up to the Trump Administration, which certified Iran as complying with the nuclear deal ... no, wait. Just kidding. They didn't. Cowards and hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

Is JFNA really capable of doing anything, sticking to anything, building consensus for anything? From my federation's perspective JFNA is a total waste, it offers us nothing but cost. We can't look to its lay or, worse, paid professional leadership for a thing.

Anonymous said...

Re: Anon 4:45

You neglected to give kudos to AIPAC for not standing silently by when some unknown, but media starved donor and national board member decided to make a very loud call for what can only be called BDS

Anonymous said...

Yes, Kudos to JFNA for going to Israel so they could yell "The Sky is Falling", "The Sky is Falling", and open the doors for all the neo-BDS activists arguing to boycott Israel Bonds, El Al, Israeli wines and Israeli hospitals!

Kudos, Jerry!

Thanks for creating a Trump-esque fake news controversy!