Sunday, July 23, 2017


1. The Forward recently headlined a dispute arising out of NY's 92nd Street Y promising a "kosher style" dinner at its Gala. This fired up an apparently famous New York Kosher caterer, Rabbi Sholtiel Lebovic. Lebovic, who claims to hold the “world record for Koshering more kitchens than any single individual since the world was created,” demanded that the Y to hire a kosher caterer for the gala. "“A phone call to the right kosher caterer has to be made to set this right and have a truly kosher event,” he stated. If we learn the outcome we will report. 

In the meantime, a FOB sent me a photo of a gorgeous plate of shrimp apparently served at UJA-New York Federation's Gracie Mansion event.


2. The Board of Trustees at Northern Illinois University forced the resignation of its President and CEO this month for mismanaging the hiring of consultants. I'm just sayin'.

3. Haaretz published an article a couple of months ago on the work of the indefatigable fund raiser and firm believer in the maxim "I don't care what they publish about me as long as they publish about me," Yechiel Eckstein. The article's title is perfect: Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein Raises Millions for Israel's Poor. And Don't You Forget it. The story deserves to be read in its entirety and you can do so at: I have tremendous respect for Yechiel's prodigious resource development skills, so much so that I asked him to join the now dormant Project HEART (Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Task Force) three years ago with all of the known baggage. Yechiel turned me down.

The Haaretz article and all I know about Yechiel dating back to his days in Chicago right through the fiasco with the Jewish Agency, reminded me of a story:
An older lady was sitting in the window seat in the first class cabin on a plane from New York.  The man who was assigned the aisle seat next to her noticed her diamond solitaire ring – the diamond was the biggest he’d ever seen, more like a rock than a gem, and he knew enough about diamonds to know this one was real and looked flawless.  He couldn’t keep his eyes off of it. 
After the flight was well underway, she noticed his gaze and helped him out, “I see you’re looking at my diamond." 
"Yes,” he admitted, “I couldn’t help myself.  It is the most stunning diamond I’ve ever seen.”
“Young man, this is the Kaplan Diamond." 
He responded, "The Kaplan Diamond?  You mean it has a name?" 
"Oh yes.  And the Kaplan Diamond comes with a curse." 
The man was impressed.  "My goodness, that’s very interesting. A diamond with a name which has a curse attached to it! Please, if you don’t mind telling me, what is the curse?" 
The old lady smiled and said, "Mr. Kaplan."
Now that the International Fellowship (aka "Eckstein") has burned its bridges sequentially with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, the United Jewish Appeal, Keren Ha'Yesod, the Jewish Agency and probably a few more, JDC now has the "Kaplan Diamond" in its possession. One word of advice: enjoy it while you can.

4. And then there is the "always good for a laugh (or cry)" FedCentral. What follows is a single paragraph from the June 21 "edition:"
"JFNA and the Israel Action Network work to bring young Jews, and young Americans of all kinds, closer to Israel. As federal and local governments are stepping away from issues, big-name philanthropists are increasingly stepping in to the tune of an estimated $20 trillion over the next 50 years."
Just a couple of issues:

  • NEITHER JFNA nor the IAN is working to "bring young Jews, and young Americans of all kinds (I don't write this stuff folks, I just reprint it) closer to Israel." As I have often written, I love the potential of the IAN underfunded as it is and as it has been by JFNA, but here's what it is committed to doing: "IAN’s mission is to build a strong base of support for Israel and counter delegitimization in the context of two states for two peoples."  III"

 JFNA so constantly engages in "mission inflation;" it just cannot help itself. (Were the IAN actually doing as JFNA states it and IAN are doing, JFNA would still be doing nothing.)

  • Then, there is the total lack of connection between sentence 1 (that "JFNA and the Israel Action Network..." sentence and sentence 2. Maybe JFNA is just checking to see if we are actually reading this thing.
5. And Now...This. If you can count on FedWorld for narishkeit and low comedy, periodically you can rely upon that epic example of JFNA's abdication of relevance, FedCentral, for telling examples of "where did we go wrong." For but one example (names withheld to protect...): 
"Would anyone be willing to share agendas for their board meetings? Specifically for the young adults. I'd like to revise ours to be more strategic. Email me at... "
Rendered speechless.



Anonymous said...

So is Gracie Mansion the sight of the new Treyfah Banquet?

Anonymous said...

Yes. It's wrong to ask for help. And good for you for shaming people who ask for help too. They should keep quiet and not use internal social media communications to learn about best practices in a non-threatening way.

Anonymous said...

While I don't share anon 1:32's sense of sarcasm, I do agree, Richard, that the "Fedworld" provides a useful platform for peer-sharing of information. Why are you so opposed to it?

RWEX said...

Thanks for asking. I do believe that FedWorld has some value -- as an example, a consummate JFNA pro, Beverly Woznica demonstrates its worth when she used the platform to create a group for CommunityCampaign pros. Otherwise my belief is that FedCentral is the best/worst evidence of JFNA abandoning its centrality as a/the place to which communal professionals can turn for answers. I see absolute value for "people who ask for help;" to those who think that the questions I've cited in five Posts are professionals seeking "best practices," G-d bless you.

Anonymous said...

Sarcastic anon at 1:32 here. Sorry but I don't buy it. Fedworld isn't a case of JFNA abandoning its centrality. It's hosting a platform in which peers can talk. If you're a young leadership director asking for agendas for board meetings then you need best practices from colleagues and peers. Not from a centralized system. You may not like how the under-45s communicate, but that doesn't mean it's not effective for their needs.

Anonymous said...

That there is NO agenda for a meeting pretty says all that needs to be said. How about this? Don't have the meeting. The attendees will, sooner or later, figure out there's no real agenda and they've been wasting their time. And by the way, the same can be said for most federation board (bored -- sorry!) meetings. Unless it's to discuss what color paper to use for the agenda and on which corner to place the staple on the multi-page copies of last meeting's minutes, most of which capture the "everything's been said but not everyone has said it...yet" narishkeit of most board meetings.

Anonymous said...

Great point, anon 9:11. Since we can't all be as smart as you and as experienced, we should all just shut up and not be allowed to access useful platforms to share ideas.

Seriously, people. Things like Fedworld are useful for those younger and less-experienced. Just because you don't appreciate the users' lack of style/experience shouldn't mean that you attack the platform which they use to actually improve and enhance their skill sets. Not everyone needs a centralized expert from NY.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 6:23 - What happened to supervision? Don't these younger, less experienced people have supervisors who do have the experience and know how to address these questions? If they don't then the community board that hired these less experienced people are at fault. I fully agree with Richard that there could be value in some type of shared communication within the field but for serious discussion and topics, not agenda building or how to write a thank you note.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:23 here.

Sure they have supervisors. But they can also ask peers, and learn from other communities. And don't be silly, their Boards aren't at fault. It's called "learning" for a reason.

Don't attack people for asking others for ideas, and don't tell people that they can't learn about agenda building or thank you notes from platforms that you don't like. All you're doing is showing a curmudgeon-like repugnance to things you don't appreciate.

If they want to swap ideas for what you think are frivolous topics then don't participate. But don't attack them.

Anonymous said...

My supervisor (small-city federation) has no experience in these questions. So he said, use whatever resources you can find. Does that make him a bad CEO? Does that make our Board at fault? Or does it just mean I'm being resourceful and asking people with similar orientation what their experiences are? I'm sorry I'm not as experienced as you in agenda-building or writing thank-you notes, but shouldn't you at least not attack?

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 6:23, Anon 9:11 here.
I didn't comment on Fedworld. I'm all for sharing information. I'm also for not holding useless meetings by contriving an agenda. That's not a function of being smart or experienced, just common sense.

RWEX said...

Thanks to all of you who have Commented on FedCentral. As the Comments have now become redundant, we will put this subject to rest. I will not entertain any further Anonymous Comments on FedCentral.