Friday, March 9, 2018



1. We all congratulated JFNA on its work in Houston post-Harvey; our congratulations only paled in comparison to the self-congratulations JFNA offered itself. Even now, JFNA is holding a series of 24-hour "fly-ins" to Houston to see a community still in need and still in recovery.

So, it came as a surprise to learn that a new Coalition has been formed to continue the life-saving and community-rebuilding work and that JFNA has no part in it. As JNS reported:

 A new coalition of national Jewish organizations has issued a call to other Jewish communal groups across the United States to send volunteers to support the still-urgent recovery needs in Houston following the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey last August.
The Leadership Coalition for Jewish Service, which includes BBYO, Hillel International, JDC Entwine, Moishe House, OneTable, Repair the World, and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, has partnered with the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston on #ActNowHouston."
Did JFNA choose not to be part of the emerging Coalition? If so, why? 

Was JFNA not invited to join in the Coalition? If so, why?

Does anyone at JFNA recall that, in the aftermath of the devastation to New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina, a superb JFNA professional led the formation of a very similar Coalition back then? A coalition now forgotten.

Now, the best JFNA can do is this sentence in FedWorld:

"As recovery from the devastating Hurricane Harvey continues, the Leadership Coalition for Jewish Service – including many Federation-funded organizations – is partnering with the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston to place recruited volunteer groups with on-the-ground agencies." (emphasis added)
Good try?


2. Then in reading a Summary of the JFNA Atlanta Board meeting the last week of January, I learned that "54 Federation communities across the continent" were present. 100 lay and pro leaders from 54 federations. That's 54 federations of 148, that's a little over 1/3rd of the federations. Shouldn't someone be asking: why? Why only a little over 1/3rd of the federations were present? 

We all know that in most non-profits, a quorum for voting purposes is one more than half of those eligible to vote and, while I don't obsess over By-Laws, I'm certain that JFNA's provide no quorum requirement -- but 36%? Really? 

Yes, only 100 lay and professional leaders were there? Does anyone even notice that federations have disengaged? Does anyone ask: WHY?

Friends, I shouldn't be the one asking these obvious questions/thisobvious question. We all know who should be asking. But I cannot think of a single reason why the Jewish Federations of North America is not/was not a founding member of Leadership Coalition for Jewish Service. I do understand why no one is even bothering to show up.

Can you?



Anonymous said...

Richard, I feel your pain, however I'm curious, back in the old days, how many of the small federations had the budget to send their leadership to the UJC/JFNA board meetings. Aren't there close to 55-60 small federations in the mix today?

Anonymous said...

Back in the GOOD ole days, my Fed (one of the small-city Feds), when we had someone on any of the UJA or CJF Boards or committees, always made sure they attended (in most cases, the person paid his/her own way). If my memory is correct, small and intermediate size cities were always very well represented.

Anonymous said...

Just to be clear there is a formula of representation that goes something like this Large Cities get 2 trustees = roughly 40 members. Large intermediate federations get one each = roughly 20 more. Intermediate federations get perhaps 4-6 total from all the intermediate federations and the small cities get perhaps 4. I may be off slightly on the formula but at best there are about 80 board members (including some individuals that held specific positions) as I recall from my days many years ago. A brief check of the bylaws should clear up what the actual number is. So the real question is of the 100 people there how many were volunteers and how many we professionals. That should determine if there was a quorum. Regardless of whether or not there was a quorum, more important it seems to me is what business did they actually pass?

Anonymous said...

Let's just cut to the chase.
The JFNA board has allowed Jerry Silverman to wield his ineffectual power for close to 8 years and as a collective body has not questioned one decision he has made to lead JFNA into obscurity on the national scene, not to mention a totally dysfunctional organization in its own right.
Richard has articulated the issues in this blog and I for one, would like to see any board member stand up in front of a group of people and speak with pride about what JFNA has accomplished during their tenure as a board member.