Thursday, August 10, 2017


In ejewishphilanthropy a headline a while back announced a report on goal-setting evidenced so much that is at the heart of JFNA's failures under the Silverman "administration." The authors concluded: "In the healthiest of organizations, the board, the staff, and other key stakeholders share a unified vision of the organization's mission, objectives, and priorities. When hiring, the board of trustees hopefully looks for an executive whose vision and skill set highly align with the organization's ."aspirations".

But in the bizarro-World that is JFNA goals just aren't set at all -- not "with" and certainly not "for." And if there ever were any 'goals," they were as opaque, as impenetrable as is all else at JFNA. Here are some of the "goals" established in a succession of Budgets under Jerry Silverman that ended in failure or, at best, abandoned with no consequences:

  1. Greater lay registration at GA's: in fact, lay registration has fallen year-after-year-year.
  2. Enhance professional growth for the field: in fact, JFNA, except for the excellent I-LEAD, has left the field where so many other organizations and foundations have filled the void left by JFNA's ridiculous walk away from one of its core responsibilities. See for example, the latest:
  3. Community consulting: JFNA determined in 2016-2017 that it would reenter this critical area with a serious consulting effort. Then, in a ridiculous "pivot," because the Financial Resource Development Department in 2016 created a two-person community consulting effort staffed by two part-time consultants (selected by and under the leadership of a part-time "Senior Consultant) which was expanding with two more part-time consultants in 2017-2018, this would now be the consulting arm of JFNA and every JFNA professional would be expected to be part of the effort. (And, never forget that federation professionals have been left to find their own way through the often juvenile FedCentral. To her credit, JFNA's Beverly Woznica, one of the top FRD pros, has now attempted to organize a collective effort using FedCentral.)
  4. Internal Fundraising was to create additional financial resources to support the JFNA Budget. This effort, led by Silverman himself (with one of his top pros) has fallen woefully short year-by-year even as these specific FRD  "goals" have been substantially reduced year-by-year.
  5. Staff development. Rather than grow the professional cadre at 25 Broadway, Silverman has grown the organization with a consultant corps that had grown to 22 consultants -- yes, that's right, TWENTY-TWO as revealed in the 2015 990 (G-d knows what that number is for 2016-2017 --I'm guessing 26-30) -- all operating with secret contracts cloaked with self-determined claims of "confidentiality." 
  6. Enhanced relations with JAFI/JDC/WorldORT. In private leaders of these organizations will tell you that relations have never been worse. Advocacy for the overseas partners through a JFNA-Israel driven "Envoys" program has been met with almost total disinterest if not disdain by the federations -- 5 communities visited in 18 months -- but, more visits are planned.
  7. Missions. National missions -- including the most important, the Prime Minister's Mission -- canceled; others, like the recent FRD Leadership Mission, with significantly reduced lay attendance and more-and-more federations going their own way -- a shambles.
  8. The National Agencies-Federation Alliance was intended to be the vehicle which would assure that the legacy national agencies created by the federation system would be funded to meet their budgetary needs; it has collapsed. And the collapse is the direct result of (a) JFNA's total lack of leadership and guidance; and (b) JFNA using the Alliance National Agencies Funding Pool as an ATM to fund its own Planning and Education Unit. Federations, led by New York, have fled or are fleeing the Alliance almost en masse. The Alliance is a dead man walking abandoned by JFNA.
  9. The Network. When Network leaders began to question the Network's treatment by JFNA leaders, the then Board Chair and Silverman engineered what can best be described as a "coup" replacing indigenous Network communal leadership with those whom JFNA could "trust." (The Network Chairs since that coup have been a succession of leaders -- fine people all -- none from a Network community.) JFNA now pulls an unconscionable 35% of the funds raised within the Network (which fell woefully short of its own goals) for its own Budget -- without a peep from the Network leadership or, certainly, JFNA leadership. I guess JFNA would call this a victory.
I would welcome any of you who read this advising me that I am wrong; that all is as well as Sandler/Silverman seem to think that it is.

This grows more pitiful with every passing day.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...


It's even worse than you have described: what organization worthy of $30 million in Dues would use its Website Home Page to freely advertise the work of an outside organization? JFNA can. Just visit and find this link: If JFNA itself had ANYTHING to offer, it might cite its own work, but, of course, it doesn't.