Yeah, the "past" is "in my eyes" as well -- not to return to it but to build upon the best of it. Santayana's warning -- "those who don't learn from the past, are doomed to repeat it" -- is today treated as nothing more than a cliche, so easily ignored. Ignored as well are the directives derived from James Collins in Good to Great, whose warnings about the rejection of core intitutional values were once relevant enough to have been delivered by Collins to a rapt and overflowing audience at a post-merger GA...and, then, promptly ignored.
Here's the implicit rejection of the values and lessons that might have been derived from the passion and purpose of the United Jewish Appeal and the dedication to federations and the professional movement of the CJF -- "we're not interested," "that was then and this is now," "you're a dinosaur," and "that's so last century."
To avoid being reminded of what was once great, the leaders of JFNA made the decision, unconsciously but not always so, to reject the past in every way, and to push away --sometimes gently, most times aggressively -- those who might remind the leaders of today that past practice might still be best practice. That inquiry would require debate and discussion, an airing of issues and alternative "solutions" and today's leadership has proved over the past 8+ years that they would rather deal with everything ad hoc, remaking the wheel (and not well, not well at all) every damn time.
- How about Disaster Relief? After Katrina terrific JFNA professionals created a Protocol for future dire emergencies. Has that Protocol been followed this year? Is anyone remaining at JFNA even familiar with it? Should there not be a full-time professional charged with its responsibility?
- How about Special Campaigns? JFNA leaders seem to believe it more important to emphasize that the effort will always be non-binding, "best efforts" than to create goals and lead these campaigns. In the main the effort has been: (1) open a Mailbox;(2) wait for the money; (3) send letters asking for more money; (4) beg individual federations to step up; and (5) walk away.
- Community Consulting? Having deconstructed the federation consulting efforts that created real engagement between JFNA and the communities in the early years -- deconstructed it to nothing -- Silverman latched on to a 4 person part-time FRD Consulting effort, branded it JFNA's "CCT Team," added a few more part-time consultants, the whole "Team" led by a Senior part-time consultant, and claimed this as a real comprehensive community consultant effort.
- Advocacy for the Overseas partners? National Agencies Alliance? Egalitarian Prayer Space at the Kotel? General Assemblies? Global Planning Table? #ish? TribeFests? Community Heroes? CEO Searches? On and on and on, one failure after the other; one disastrous failure after another.
Where is accountability? Searching for accountability at JFNA would be the modern equivalent of Diogenes searching for one honest person. At JFNA the proof of disinterest in accountability can be found in the continuing payment of Dues -- for if there were accountability at JFNA there would be no Dues payments across the Board.
And, so it goes...repeating failure is now the institutional norm at JFNA. And "I got the past in my eyes."