Sunday, November 12, 2017



As you sit at the GA, the few of you who will be attending, each time you hear JFNA Jargon, please write me offline with this year's buzzword. I will then pick the best of show and publish it somewhere.

One Commentator to the Retropective Post last week suggested an option for your consideration:
"It has all been said. Now is the time to do something about it.
We need to make this GA in LA a historic event by disrupting it!
Change is not going to happen unless we stop being polite and begin to make it happen.
Nobody will miss anything if the GA program gets scrapped and is replaced by a series of
activities whose ultimate purpose is to save our communal institutions and to reaffirm our commitment to collective responsibility for each other and the Jewish People."
Probably will not happen even as it should. It has happened before.

So, start by pondering the new svelte Jerry Silverman. Never looked batter; I hear he has lost 65 pounds. So there's that. And while you consider the four "'hot topic' conversations"  that you have been promised (if you can discern them from a Program that appears to be sadly devoid of substance):

1. You might hear Jerry reiterate what he told the Jerusalem Post just months ago. He said 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’ll be able to bring this back together and focus on what is really key, which is the Jewish people.”
And, you can then spend a minute (or two) asking the relevant question: "WTF?"

2. Or, perhaps, you will reflect on the themes of the GA selected by these leaders and understand what the hell they meant. For example:
“The World is Our Backyard” (that was 2014)
"Think Forward" (2015)
or "Venture Further" (2017) -- my current favorite for absolute meaninglessness -- although on second and third thought, all are equally meaningless...totally.

3. You can read and reread The Forward 50 in amazement, awe and wonder -- actually wondering, how did they choose ___________________________? Or: how did they not select _________________________?

4. You can ponder crap like this: "Can good marketing save Judaism? Join the conversation at GA 17!"

5. As you sit, eyes glazing over, wondering "how much did it cost me for this"?, you will want to play "Bullshit Bingo:"

If you choose to play, I predict you will be screaming either "Bullshit" or "Bingo" or both before Jerry's speech ("Words of Wisdom" according to the GA Program) is completed; or, if not, your card will be completed by the time the Board Chair gives his address "on the Jewish future."

6. Maybe you will wish to consider why, with about 300 speakers (OK, so I exaggerate a bit) would the chachams of JFNA not ask Dr. Steven Windmueller or. Dr. Robert Hyfler, both students and practitioners, to present? 

7. While sitting there consider this: It was the brilliant Gary Shteygart who reported on watching 168 hours of Russian TV  in a single week in an incredible, hysterical and often scary article in The New York Times Magazine in 2015, "Out of My Mouth Comes Unimpeachable Manly Truth." "Incredible, hysterical and often scary" is how you may feel sitting, mouth agape at this year's GA. But, fear not, after the two days of the GA you may return home leaving the dystopian world of the GA behind. 

8. And, you can watch the Prime Minister on the big screen. Compare and contrast with Presient Rivlin's address. Decide if they really can't stand each other.

9. Finally, at the King David Event, did anyone ask Michael Milken about his annual gift to the Jewish Federation?

10. And, instead of nodding off while listening to pontification on the future of the Jewish People, rena\t a car and drive to one of those great LA Jewish delis,  and nosh until you are in a pastrami coma.

Plenty of rooms still available at the JW Marriott -- from plain vanilla Guest Rooms right on up to Junior Suites.

Have a GA!! 



Dan Brown said...

"for Jewish analysts who have been following the Federation movement over the last decade, the 2017 GA is at best bittersweet."

Anonymous said...

The best way to spend time at the GA: find a quiet space and read Maayan Hoffman's piece cited by Dan Brown above, read Uri Blau's most recent article,

And contemplate just how you can be an agent of transformational change. Then speak up; question; find common ground with others; reject pats on the head and "we'll gte back to you" or your federation CEO telling you "everything is fine."


Anonymous said...

Now that the WH has officially announced they will be continuing the Hanukah party tradition, you can be certain JFNA will pull out all stops to be sure Silverman is invited. And the pic caption with DT? "Two no-nothing, ineffective CEOs."

Anonymous said...

I am in LA and up too early. A few observations:

1. THERE IS NO ONE HERE. Reporters who picked up JFNA's pre-GA spin published that good old 3,000 number.If they looked around at yesterday's Opening Plenary they could have counted the house easiy -- maybe an audience of 800. The GA under Jerry has become an annual disaster.

2. If there were in fact 250 registrants from Los Angeles, this means that from the rest of North America there may be, best case, 500 max, most of them professionals.

3. Yesterday the Breakout on American politics played to a full room standing room only. However it was a room that sat maybe 100 folks and another maybe 50 were standing. GA leaders think they are fooling some by holding sessions in smaller and smaller rooms.

4. Exhibitors, who every year I have been at GA's, including the last GA in LA, have always been gathered in a huge space housing qllof them. This year, they are shunted off to hallways near the Ballrooms and there appear, to the naked eye to be the very few.

This is really sad when one remembers the excitement that were these gatherings until Silverman and his crew got their hands on them.

I think I'll take a nap.

Dan said...

As one of those publications that used JFNA's pre-GA spin of 3000, let me say we discussed this fantasy at length prior to publication. Our ultimate decision to run with that number was to specifically compare to the 6000 reported to be at the New Orleans GA (2010) and show how much GA attendance has fallen under current leadership.