Tuesday, January 2, 2018


How long until federations stop paying/overpaying/egregiously overpaying for ineptitude and failure? That is the question.

Some already have, of course; JFNA has pled with those communities to pay while urging them to keep their non-payment "quiet." Yet, JFNA under this so-called leadership offers a veritable buffet overflowing with failures.

With all of the failures you can add what may be the biggest failure of all — the failure of imagination. These leaders can't imagine, let alone achieve, greatness; these leaders can't imagine, let alone achieve, transformational change. They merely repeat -- over and over and over again -- the programs of the past, some successful, most redundant, while parroting what they may have heard. (Example: Michael Siegal, when Board Chair, without any consultation with the federations, called for a multi-billion dollar effort to provide free Jewish education to all [he had no idea what the real cost might be]. That was six years ago. This past November, Smilin' Jerry S. called for the same thing -- nothing more than a pandering, patronizing applause line -- not a moment spent in planning, in putting meat on the bones of Siegal's idea over the six years between then and now. Truly despicable and so sadly typical.)

JFNA has evolved/devolved into an Idiocracy. I sense that in a number -- small but growing -- of federations there is a growing exasperation (one that should have surfaced years ago) with JFNA and an emergent reevaluation of the federation/JFNA relationship. This is a topic that Federation CEOs discuss in confidence among themselves at Retreats and in on-line chat "rooms" -- JFNA is "fortunate" (in the worst way) that these CEOs are waiting for someone else to take the lead. 

A growing number of these leaders realize that JFNA's ineptitude can actually lead to destabilizing the federations themselves. So here's the point: a weak, ineffective JFNA ultimately weakens the very federations which support it. 

What can one do about an organization designed to reflect strong leadership -- as JFNA was -- that has abandoned fund raising, abandoned the national agencies, abandoned the overseas partners, abandoned purpose, abandoned Mission, abandoned vision? My answer: you either reform it or you abandon it for another, recreate it. You don't just continue to throw $30 million (+) year-in and year-out and expect these same chachams to effect change when they believe that the very payment of those Dues means that they are doing just a fine job.

I despair -- JFNA is comatose, going through the motions; relying upon its member federations and their leaders to ask no questions, make no waves. There is no hope any longer, if there ever was, that the longest-serving Deans of the Large City Executives will invest any energy in effecting change at the top of JFNA (although they could). The only hope is that New York UJA-Federation CEO/President Eric Goldstein and his top lay leadership, will examine how that community's Dues -- millions each and every year -- are "invested" and what kind of return New York receives on that "investment;" and, when they find the answer to be none, they will demand that immediate steps be taken. 

Because...immediate steps need to be taken...



Anonymous said...

Richard, I haven't done the research, but I think that this is your annual January post.
And, I'm not being critical of you here, it's just that this has been going on for years.

I believe that almost every single Large City CEO, and perhaps their leadership, knows that they are paying way too much to JFNA for what they receive in return. In the past, I thought that they were being responsible players to the system by continuing to pay the lion's share of JFNA's operating budget, knowing that in doing so, they are supporting the myriad of smaller federations, while not receiving the dollar for dollar benefit of their level of dues.

I have changed my mind. I now believe that they could demonstrate their responsibility and compassion for the Federation system by withholding their dues and demanding the change that is so desperately needed. JFNA has no leverage anymore (if they ever did).

Now is the time for New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, etc. to make a statement.

Anonymous said...

....and it would be nice to know what communities have opted out or who are being coddled with a "personal deal."

Anonymous said...

Shame on the commentator at 5:04. By large cities withholding dues, the only ones to suffer are the smaller federations and communities. That's not responsible and not compassionate, it's disgraceful. Fight your silly wars some other way.

Anonymous said...

Does JFNA do ANYTHING that serve the federations? Do Silverman and Sandler believe that they serve the federations just by collecting Dues? Because they are doong almost nothing else.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 3:45, I don't know if you are a longtime reader of Richard's blog, but I would be curious about your take on whether or not JFNA is providing services that are in line with their $30 million budget.
Judging from your response to my comment at 5:04, it would appear that you think that the smaller communities are not suffering now.
This war is not silly, unless of course you think that JFNA is delivering services to the system, regardless of the size of the federation.