With apologies to The Washington Post, "organizations die in darkness." And, as we have pointed out on these pages too often, nowhere is the darkness deeper than at the Jewish Federations of North America.
On a snowy winter's night in February 2018 at Chicago's Midway Airport, Southwest Airlines had to cancel all of its flights when it ran out of deicer. When I heard about this on the news, my immediate thought was: "when did Jerry Silverman become CEO of an airline?" How does something like this happen to a major corporation; how does darkness fall on what was a major North American non-profit? At Southwest actions were taken; at JFNA no one gives a damn.
We are in the post-shame JFNA. There is no longer any evidence that anyone within JFNA leadership -- and I include its Board, the federation CEOs, and, of course, its Board Chair and Vice Chair. What they do care about is unclear. JFNA has been allowed to become the institutional equivalent of the witness protection program.
JFNA is the place where the degeneration, the entropy have become constants. The greatest college Coach of All Time, the GOAT of college coaches, Alabama's Nick Saban, has a mantra, a challenge to his teams year-after-year: "How good do you want to be?" At JFNA there appears to be no one who would even understand the question. There are some great professionals at JFNA -- as well as the many superb professionals who have left the organization -- who lack direction, who feel they lack professional leadership. For JFNA is in the depth of Tartarus and can't/won't emerge, if ever, until...the 12th of Never.
If there are those who suggest that JFNA under Silverman is anything but the grossest of failures, that suggestion is, quite obviously, risible. As Michelle Goldberg observed in a different context, those at JFNA who think "all's well" have "a photo-negative version of reality." JFNA's failure is not that of its CEO alone; the JFNA Board members and federation CEOs are themselves passively engaged in the deconstruction of JFNA...and, ultimately, of the federation system itself.
Friends, we all know that in any successful organization -- for-profit or non-profit -- we see building on success; at JFNA, other than in the brilliant work in Washington, each success is a one-off (e.g., disaster relief during and post-Harvey) succeeded not by further success but by folly and repeated failure (e.g., JFNA-Israel, the GAs). And no accountability...ever.
Yes, I despair. The only hope I see is in the Anonymous Comments to my Posts from those of you who see what others do not. I try to keep optimism alive in my heart even as optimism is on life support in my brain. But for you, my dear readers, I feel like Al Gore were he at CPAC talking about global warming.
Who ultimately will call a Code Red?
* "Dreckitude" -- that perfect decriptive term is derived from the works of Maureen Dowd writing of something else.