One of you, anonymously of course, clearly much smarter than I, recently commented on my Post decrying the JFNA murder of the National Agencies/Jewish Federations Alliance, as follows:
"Ah...another lament for the end of something that wasn't working anymore for anyone. Please stop measuring success as the funding of things that "used to be oh so great." (Similarly, please stop judging the system by how much money JAFI and JDC and ORT get.) JFNA does need to figure out what Federations can/should/are willing to do together -- and it's done a lousy job of that, but ending the Alliance was a necessary thing to do because times have changed. So many things that you, Richard, count as major JFNA failings would have died no matter the national structure (merger or no merger) because Federations, communities and the giving landscape are so different now. The question to tackle is -- what can and should be done collectively now given today's realities?"This was certainly fair commentary even as it excuses all -- that's all -- of JFNA's failures over its existence and then suggests that it's up to JFNA "...to figure out what Federations can/should/are willing to do." Up to JFNA -- really? This formulation reminds me of the story of the child who murders his parents and then asks for mercy as the murderer is now an orphan.
"Times have changed" is an unassailable fact but that fact is not an excuse for doing absolutely nothing but sitting back, sighing and, well...doing nothing. No advocacy for the federations, no firing up the troops, no passion, no success....no purpose. One of you recently challenged my readers to identify a single JFNA accomplishment over Jerry's 9 years of work. Other than the work of JFNA-Washington I have heard none...none loud and clear.
Was the National Agencies Alliance "not working?" Probably, but that failure was not the fault of the National Agencies, that was clearly the fault of the Federation members of the Alliance who failed in their responsibilities, and the fault of JFNA leaders who not only did nothing to support the Alliance, they looked the other way as Jerry drew down over $1 million in funds belonging to the Agencies and already allocated to them.
And, have I been guilty of "judging the system by how much money" the overseas partners have received -- an amount in the aggregate that has reached record lows in each and every year of Silverman's tenure. What I have done is measure JFNA's commitment to its core purposes -- among them marshalling the system's commitment to collective responsibility -- by this collapse of the overseas core allocations.
My Anonymous friend opined that many, if not all, of these commitments would have collapsed no matter what JFNA would have done. One thing I am certain of is that none of us can know what the outcomes would have been had JFNA met its responsibilities because JFNA has done nothing to influence those outcomes in a positive way.
Perhaps, one of you said it best in responding to the above critique:
"Times are indeed changing and things are getting worse and worse. The problem is that nobody is doing anything about it.We are in the midst of systemic failure while JFNA Jerry continues to be distracted by the next shiny object he may see...or thinks he sees.
If indeed what is happening would have happened anyway what does that tell us about the obscene waste of hundreds of millions of dollars to fund an organization that is supposed to be doing something about it?
We are wasting so much of our valuable resources, yet Federations get no value at all. With no leadership, no accountability and no supervision or oversight, our presence in Israel does more damage than good while wasting still more millions of Dollars under more than a decade of Becky Caspi's decadent regime.
The whole thing is a total mess and current leadership will go down in history as being responsible for the death of our collective Jewish organizational life.
Does anybody care?"
And, as always, the seminal question: DOES ANYBODY CARE?