Sunday, October 15, 2017


On September 12, Haaretz reported that In New York, Netanyahu Meets Jewish Leaders for  First Time Since Western Wall Crisis. JFNA was represented at that meeting -- I'm sure it was purely an oversight that the JFNA Board has not been updated in any way on either the nature or substance of that meeting...or even that it occurred; further proof that JFNA's leaders have total disdain for its own Board members let alone the federations.

On the substance of the twin crises fomented by the Prime Minister -- the breach of the 2016 Agreement to create an egalitarian prayer soace at the Kotel and his support for an egregious piece of Knesset legislation on conversions -- the issues remain. Much has been written on these subjects; opinion pieces abound. Many have been insightful and informative -- especially Judy Maltz's reporting in Haaretz

Then there was the incredible screed from the poison pen of one Caroline Glick who purports to understand American Jewry because she grew up here but, really, hates us. On September 24, she first predicted the demise of American Jewry,, made wildly false and unsupported accusations -- "...both movements (Reform and Conservative), and a large swath of the Jewish institutional world, led in large part by Reform and Conservative Jews, have either turned a blind eye to...antisemitism or supported it" -- before turning her "focus" to the twin crises doing her best to diminish them to the point of irrelevance.

As to the egalitarian prayer space -- Glick calls it the "overturn" of " earlier decision to build a passageway." Oh, and she belittles and misrepresents the "rescission" of "...a previous decision to have representatives of the Conservative and Reform movements receive membership in the committee that manages the Western Wall Plaza." She sees those Movements' opposition to the Prime Minister's abrogation of his Government's agreement to be nothing more than than an effort to "...keep their dwindling bases engaged and attract members of the increasingly anti-Israel far Left."

Glick  concluded that the entire brouhaha was fomented not by the Prime Minister's abrogation but by American Jewry and our failure to recognize how really unimportant this all is. I'd call this entire Glick piece irrational, unsupported and usual.

Friends, Glick and her ilk are so wrong. The failure here is writ large -- it is a failure of American Jewish leadership to join with the Reform and Conservative Movements (and, were they capable of raising their voices, the failure of non-Haredi Rabbinic leadership to speak out against the Knesset legislation that would impact so directly on their legitimacy as well) and an apparent inability to join Natan Sharansky and the leadership of the Jewish Agency in vigorous, loud and continuous denunciation of the Prime Minister's actions.

And I'm not talking of periodic spasms of quotes like Jerry Silverman's on the cusp of the Israel Supreme Court's hearing on the breach of the Wall Agreement that this "...has become a defining moment over whether or not Israel is truly the nation-state of the Jewish people" and then waiting for the next interview opportunity or an invite from the PM for a stop and chat. 

You haven't heard much, if anything actually, from JFNA since the debacle created by the Prime Minister's political decisions in June when, in a bizarre claim of "victory" where there was none, JFNA claimed that a 6 month delay on consideration of the Conversion Bill announced by the PM, was a result of its pressure. What I guess is going on is that JFNA is waiting in the weeds hoping against hope that Natan Sharansky can snatch real victory from the jaws of defeat and, right then, JFNA can ride Natan's coattails claiming it had something to do with it. 

But Jerry Silverman had a lot to say in an interview with The Jerusalem Post after that meeting with the Prime Minister in the aftermath of the abrogation of the 2016 Agreement and the PM's announced support of the Conversion legislation:
"'I believe he did listen and I am hopeful we can stop the conversion bill as it is right now,' Silverman told The Jerusalem Post at the time. A temporary solution has since been reached on the conversion issue, under which the state, together with the Reform and Masorti movements will request that the High Court of Justice delay by at least six months a ruling on a petition to grant non-Orthodox converts recognition by the state. In return, the haredi parties agreed to suspend their legislation. Silverman told the Federation’s executive directors that their activity, along with other Jewish groups, had been effective after they pressed the issue to local Israeli consuls general, wrote letters and emails to those of influence and spoke out to the media.

In recent comments to the Post, however, Silverman --who usually takes an optimistic approach to Israel and the Jewish people--raised doubts that the the country is acting as the nation state of all the Jewish people. He noted that the sudden suspension of the Western Wall agreement after three and a half years of negotiations and the conversion legislation, which would permanently prevent non-Orthodox converts in Israel obtaining citizenship, 'devalued 85% of Diaspora Jewry' and created doubts as to the country’s commitment to its brethren abroad."
(Earlier), in June, Silverman told the Post that he is '...the eternal optimist when it comes to the Jewish people, because I believe in the people of Israel...I believe that over time we will be able to bring this back together and focus on what is really key, which is the Jewish people.'" 
Uh huh. Jerry. 

The Jerusalem Post concluded: "It seems, however, as though his faith -- and that of the Jewish communities he presides over -- has been severely shaken." OK then.

There is no JFNA action plan; there is no action and no plan. There is talk.

That's us -- no action and no plan.



Anonymous said...

How much is and has been wasted on JFNA-Israel annually? Why does the lay leadership tolerate the waste, the absolute void in one of its most important outposts? Why is there no plan for anything?

Anonymous said...

Richard,Richard, Richard - please understand. The Sr VP Israel is working frantically behind the scenes trying to convince the PM to throw the American Jewish community a bone. In fact, she was last seen buying up all the pink champagne available in Jerusalem hoping to achieve this goal.

There was a time I believed Siverman was responsible for this disaster. Probably was. But Sandler now "owns" it. And he is clearly not inclined to do anything about it.

Just wait for the PR circus JFNA will unleash in LA in just a few short weeks.

Anonymous said...

Anyone expecting Richard Sandler to demand accountability or even mediocrity from the JFNA CEO should understand by now that Sandler is perfectly happy to sit 3,000 milles away from JFNA HQ, accept whatever Silverman tells him as fact, and ignore the daily failures of JFNA as if everything is perfect -- especially if he can put his name onMemos, give a speech every once in awhile all while pretending he is a real Board Chair rather than a fake one. You know, it's like Hollywood, just play-acting. No real Chair of a non-profit Board would tolerate the mess that JFNA is.

Anonymous said...

Anybody that believes that the I&O Global Operations team and its leader have any influence whatsoever on Israel government policy, Israeli society or anything at all simply doesn't have a clue about how things work and what a waste of our resources this bloated circus has become.
Why then is this waste and worthless effort allowed to continue out of control and without any direction, leadership or supervision - lay or professional? A good question with absolutely no good answer.
It indeed never ends but will when someone finally realizes how much it is costing us all.

Anonymous said...

As I have said many times on this blog, and yes anonymously, a JFNA board member needs to step up to the microphone at their meeting at the GA in LA, and read out a list of questions, not demands, and ask that they be respectfully answered.
The problem is the people in that room, individually and collectively.

Anonymous said...

Richard Sandler, supposedly the JFNA Board Chair, appears to echo the President, who said yesterday: "I'm not going to blame myself, I'll be honest. They are not getting the job done." The end result is that no one's accountable at JFNA because this absentee Board Chair has assured that JFNA's total failure (other than the successes of JFNA Washington) will continue. He should (1) insist on Jerry's retirement and (2) resign. Instead Sandler will insist that everything is fantastic.

Anonymous said...

For a trained lawyer, and the executive director of a foundation, Sandler's understanding of board governance is beyond disgraceful.