Thursday, February 1, 2018


I believe that you, my readers, whether you "like" this Blog or "hate" the very idea of it, you are, by a super-majority, an exceptional group of concerned Jewish citizens. Not infrequently, you challenge the very premises underlying the positions I've taken, causing me to seriously reexamine them. For instance:
"The strongest Federations make decisions for the good of their communities and the Jewish people based on a host of local and communal factors. The world has changed and local donors and Federations don't believe they exist to feed the international partners -- that change would have happened with or without a merger. 
Measuring JFNA based on international funding as a primary criteria is silly in 2017/18. Similarly, Federations don't think they should be funding a handful of national orgs because they used to get funding -- if they're adding true value to a Federation's mission they can get local money just like the now hundreds of other orgs operating across the country. 
Richard, we all love you, but you and your readers are too smart to keep pretending that the world hasn't changed with massive disruption in every sector, including Jewish life. All of this said, there is of course room for a real critique of the Silverman regime based on its weakness in meeting today's Federation challenges. Perhaps in the New Year you can focus there?" 
I hate it when I may be wrong even as I am more than willing to have my assumptions challenged. I have admitted to being the dinosaur I have been accused of being; and I readily admit that if, as I have articulated on these pages as t others, "you are what the scoreboard says you are," our Anonymous friend's critique is telling.

I really don't "(measure) JFNA based on international funding as a primary criteria" -- however, I do "measure JFNA" by the organization's understanding that it has an absolute and undeniable moral obligation to passionately advocate for its partners -- for the overseas beneficiaries -- as part and parcel of its institutional n'shama. And it does not do so. To JFNA's leaders, lip service to its moral responsibilities is all that can be hoped for -- and even lip service is in short supply from this group. More's the pity.

At least annually I publicly admit on these pages that I do still believe that JFNA and the federations can recapture their critical, central planning role by dint of hard (extremely hard) work built upon a recognition that certain communal values are sacrosanct -- among them: the centrality of the annual campaign, the historic partnership of American and Israeli Jewry, the exercise of collective responsibility, building the Jewish professional corps, Jewish education, care for our elderly and our dedication to those of our People most in need. In each of these areas, JFNA has fallen down on the job or done absolutely.nothing. And the "see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil" leadership asks nothing of the organization they arguably govern but don't (unless one believes that acting as a rubber stamp is governing).

I look forward to learning from you, chevre, what you believe are "today's federation challenges" and what you perceive to be just how JFNA is meeting them.



Anonymous said...

Don't you start having second thoughts just because you may not have been successful in rallying the troops against this incompetent and distructive regime.
You are right on target!
The merger, at least this grotesque implementation of it, has been a complete disaster.
Only because our "leaders" are apathetic cowards has this been allowed to coninue so long - much too long!
This is a true tragedy and you are reading the map correctly.
We have become a lost cause!
We need to either regroup and reinvent ourselves or just lay down and die.

Anonymous said...

In especially Jewish organizations one can locate the moral center about which you've written in the values expressed by the actions the organization takes. As you have correctly identified, JFNA operates in total ignorance of the values that are the building blocks of federations. There are those who sit on its Boards and head it Committees who understand those values but appear to be loathe to suggest them to JFNA's professional and lay leaders. There's no explanation for this silence just as there is no way to understand it.

Forget the disaster of the merger; just look at the disaster of JFNA today. The previous Anon has it right: JFNA is a lost cause.