Thursday, January 11, 2018


I have written over the past two+ years of the extorted fuds engineered by JFNA CEO, Jerry Silverman, of over $1 million from the National Agencies Funding Pool to fund an Education Unit outside the JFNA Budget. And, at the very end of 2017, came this Anonymous Comment:
"The Education unit funding is simply fraud. There is no such thing, no such unit, no such product. It was an interesting idea of those who did not want to let go of the idea of JESNA. But it never started, never produced, and never breathed. JFNA just took the money plain and simple.

Crooked Jerry go home.

I am not sure JFNA can survive but at least we will maintain the last vestige of dignity." 
If the Commentator is correct, then this alone should be the ultimate evidence of JFNA's abysmal failure coupled with a lack of integrity -- the latter, something that Richard Sandler cares deeply about. What will he do about this? Will he just ask his CEO "is this true" and when Silverman replies "Let me explain<" will Sandler once again just accept anything he is told?

But, how can this be? Could JFNA have already abandoned its inane attempt to go operational in the field of Jewish Education? Here's what JFNA says it's doing:
"The Jewish Education and Engagement department empowers and supports Federations as they reach out to Jews wherever they are, giving them the tools they need to live more vibrant and meaningful Jewish lives. It’s an investment in enriching our people and our communities, now and in the future."
So, you see, there is a "Department" apparently fully engaged to say bullshit. JFNA continues:
"We are a laboratory for new ideas, challenging the status quo and shaping conversations that reimagine strategies, leadership, and Jewish community in response to evolving needs." bullshit squared.

Understand, at the time that Silverman contemplated this "Unit," he was warned by, among others, John Ruskay, then the President-CEO of UJA-Federation of New York, that it would be a mistake for JFNA to go "operational;" Jerry ignored this counsel. Silverman committed to raise the funds that would be required to jumpstart this effort while hitting the bricks to hire a bright, young professional from Chicago as the Unit's "Director" and added an Associate Director never disclosing that his internal fundraising was a non-starter. So Jerry just found another source; unfortunately, it wasn't "his" money; he just took it from others without their consent...without even consultation. 

Now, if our Commentator is correct, "bullshit" evolved into misappropriation  -- no "Education Unit." no "Education Department." Just Jerry's demand that there be an immediate transfer of over $1,000,000 from the National Agencies -- in fact and law, those funds belonged to the National Agencies when they were deposited in the National Agencies Alliance Funding Pool -- to the JFNA Budget where those funds just plain disappeared into that black hole; no questions asked...ever. To Silverman that's "internal fund raising;" to us it is part of the kleptocracy that JFNA has been permitted to become by the "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" crowd.

Finally, quoting JFNA's own description of its "leadership" in Jewish Education:
"We convene changemakers who share smart practices and resources and make data-informed decisions to create more and better education and engagement opportunities. And we help them strengthen connections to each other and local partners, from synagogues to supermarkets."
So there you have it -- making connections "...from synagogues to supermarkets." "Supermarkets" indeed. The order must have been issued from the Executive Suite at 25 Broadway: "get me something in writing on our Education thing" and this is what emerged. Maybe this is what our correspondent meant when he wrote "no such Unit, no such Department, no such product." It's there...but it isn't. Just like JFNA.

This whole thing stinks to high heaven. It is paradigmatic of JFNA itself. It is shameful. In any responsible organization the CEO who directed this failed scheme would be gone. Instead, as in so many things, JFNA tries to hide its failures behind a wall of secrecy. If you want answers, you can try to penetrate that wall.

Don't hold your breath: JFNA's "leaders" are doing that for you, hoping as always that this just goes away.



Anonymous said...

The education unit is a classic “short con” in which a shill pretends to conspire with the mark to cheat the dealer, while in fact conspiring with the dealer to cheat the mark. The mark has no chance whatsoever of winning, at any point in the game. In fact, anyone who is observed winning anything in the game can be presumed to be a shill.

Think of three-card monte. A confidence game in which the victim, or "mark", is tricked into betting a sum of money, on the assumption that they can find the "money card" or “Lady” among three face-down playing cards. It is the same as the shell game just cards instead of shells.

When you think about Education, you think about classrooms, youth groups, summer camps and the like. But don’t bet on it. The Con Artist in-chief Jerry knows where the lady card is.

He moves the cards so you just can’t tell where the lady is.

Nobody is paying close enough attention.

Everything he has described in the so called Education Unit — replace the word Education with Campaign and voila - you lost your bet.

He didn’t “lie”in the con artist world of telling the truth. He only lied in our more common vernacular of telling the truth as practiced by most of us.

So, the shills play along, and money is added to the regular budget of JFNA.

So JFNA can at least pay out more money and do nothing.

A great way to cover inflationary costs and wasted money on consultants.

A con game instead of FRD.

A con artist instead of a CEO

And a short con instead of a National Organization.

Rabbi P. T. Barnum taught us two lessons:

Clowns are the pegs on which the circus is hung.


A sucker is born every minute.

Anonymous said...


I almost fell off my chair when I read 3 card Monte above

I work for JFNA. We all (or at least the honest among us) believe that most of our jobs are phony. We write in hyperbole because that is what is requested of us. We know that JFNA beyond talk does little or nothing.

But today we laughed. Quietly. Because laughter here is suspect.

All employees here live in fear of the con man.

Whoever wrote it...thank you!!

Anonymous said...

So, we know that Sandler is complicit in this, by his inaction.
But what about the other national lay leadership. Can someone bring this to their attention?
Does the executive committee know about this?
Who is the JFNA treasurer anyway.....what is his/her answer?
There has to be someone, somewhere in the JFNA system who has the integrity to bring this to the surface.
Or, maybe not.

Anonymous said...

Poor you - working for JFNA! I would start looking for another job because it is only a matter of time. There is a limit to how long they will be able to get away with this con game.

Anonymous said...

I honestly felt badly for the JFNA professional who commented (I hope it wasn't Mark Gurvis).
It's amazing to me that they can keep young, smart professionals more than 6 months, because I think that that is the time frame that the really smart ones realize the shell game that Jerry Silverman used to dupe them into coming to work for JFNA.
After all, he is the master salesman.
Someone should do an analysis of who Jerry has championed during his tenure. It would be an interesting exercise.

Anonymous said...

If that person actually works at JFNA , where is his/her integrity? Or the many self-proclaimed JFNA trustees who comment?
So either folks are not honest with us or have far bigger issues!

Anonymous said...

To the Anon. at 11:56 a.m. -- your cynicism exceeds even mine. If you want to defend Jerry Silverman'or the JFNA Board by attacking those who question both, attach your name and I will print your Comment. Questioning the "integrity" of another Anonymous Commentator with your own attempt at an Anonymous Comment? Uh Uh. No.

Anonymous said...

Why are the JFNA financials still not filed more than six months after the close of their fiscal year?

Anonymous said...

The real status symbol is having a treadmill in your office. Or, a standing desk.

Anonymous said...

I attended the "convening" a few years ago in which a group of us discussed how to use the JESNA funds. There were many great ideas. Not surprisingly, there was a hesitation to dump the funds into JFNA. After all, if JESNA couldn't survive, why would one think that JFNA could successfully nurture a central agency or department under its wings?

After the event there was radio silence. The next thing we knew someone without any real school experience is crowned the head of this new effort. The JFNA website shows a few articles - nothing new, nothing from the JFNA staff themselves, nothing that adds to the field, nothing that shows any advocacy for Jewish Education in the world of Federations.

I think this is part of a larger issue - one of focus. The Federation world continues to focus on marginal Jews, instead of putting resources into strengthening the already connected - through Jewish Education! Why do GA gatherings glorify those who "discovered" Judaism at age 35, or who got turned on by Birthright? Why not reward the (educational) institutions who continue to produce committed Jews? Better to take the JFNA money and distribute it to JTS, HUC, YU, Prizmah, etc.