Monday, April 23, 2018


This just crossed my "Desk." A Memo from Jerry Silverman to the JFNA Staff:

"Dear Colleagues,

I want to share some news with you. As you may be aware, I have worked for JFNA for more than 8 years. My current contract ends September 7, 2019, and as is appropriate, our Board Chair Richard Sandler, asked me recently what my plans are going forward. After much discussion with my family, I have decided not to seek a renewal of my contract.

I have been blessed with a world class team at JFNA. I feel privileged to work with you each and every day. Serving the Jewish People has been an honor. Although we have dealt with major domestic disasters, wars in Israel, and changes across Federations, I believe that – together – we will continue to make a difference in the lives of others across the globe.

We are announcing this decision now in order to allow JFNA the time necessary to plan for and conduct a proper, high level search. JFNA is a complex national organization with so many stakeholders and constituent members. A CEO search could take more than a year.

I wholeheartedly plan to continue at my usual pace until September 2019. My decision is bittersweet. However, as I have always stated, family comes first. 

We will have an opportunity for our staff to gather later today so that I can share some more thoughts with you personally and answer any questions you may have..."
More will follow...and soon did. Here was Richard Sandler's letter to his leadership:

"One of my primary responsibilities as the board chair of JFNA is to work very closely with our CEO, Jerry Silverman. As you may be aware, Jerry has now completed 3 ½ years of his current contract with JFNA. After much discussion with his family, Jerry recently shared with me that he has decided not to seek a renewal contract. He will fully complete his agreement, which ends September 7, 2019.

As we know, the position of JFNA CEO is one of the most demanding in Jewish communal life, and Jerry will have completed 10 years in the role, making him the longest serving CEO of our national system since merger. I appreciate and respect Jerry’s decision. It is certainly a privilege for me to work closely with and learn from such a knowledgeable and committed leader.

We are currently in our nominations process for the next team of JFNA officers, which will be formally elected at the GA in October. Once the Nominating Committee has completed its work, I will begin discussing the search process with the board chair nominee. We will, of course, follow the customary procedures for a national search for a position of this scope and complexity.

We are very appreciative of the tremendous impact Jerry has had, and will continue to have."



Anonymous said...

Baruch atah Adonai Elohenu melekh ha'olam shehecheyanu vekiymanu vehigi'anu lazman hazeh!

Anonymous said...

Now we need for Caspi to see the writing on the wall.

Anonymous said...

Both he and Paul Ryan say they are stepping down to spend more time with family.

I believe him as much as I believe Ryan.

Anonymous said...

I did not anticipate that Silverman would announce his "retirement" when I addressed this Comment to your earlier Post:

"Has anyone noticed that Jerry Silverman appears to have totally disappeared? Does he show at 25 Broadway to pick up his check or does he just direct deposit, ashamed to show his face? Has he fallen off his treadmill desk and he can't get up? Is he spending all his time in Israel trying to figure out what to say about Bibi's latest assault on Israel's civil society? Or is he just in constant flight from the reality that JFNA is a disaster or is he flying hither and yon to maximize his frequent flier miles sort of like an ersatz Scott Pruitt? Or is he at his desk at 25 Broadway but no one can tell?

What the hell are WE paying this guy $750,000 for?"

Maybe this "retirement" explains Jerry's "disappearance?"

Anonymous said...

Watch him end up as the new CEO for USCJ!

Anonymous said...

As someone who has seen the theatre of UJA-UJC-JFNA play out for the last two decades, I pray that the leadership gets it right this time. I don't know if the appropriate candidates would even aspire to run the "off the rails" JFNA, but I do hope that the next leader understands and embraces the essence of the Federated system. Stop the experiments. Trying to fit Camping leadership, academics, Educators,attorneys and the like into a role that is culturally driven and nuanced is to ensure the fatal blow to national relevance. We see what happens to culture, focus and strategy when you onboard lay and professional leaders at the highest levels who are learning the aleph bet when strength/experience are needed. And, don't forget the likability factor. If a professional with experience who can't relate to people is a recipe for demise. Remember Howard Rieger??
As a member of the Houston community, I know what experience can bring. You can see the difference.

Anonymous said...

As per Richard's previous post to this one, the question JFNA leadership should be asking is, why hasn't JFNA been able to fill the position of Senior VP of Planned Giving and Endowments in over a year? The February 2018 re-posting withstanding.
It would appear to be symptomatic of JFNA at the senior level: Nobody with any common sense would want to work there. If there is a JFNA lay leader who could give an alternative explanation, we would like to hear it (but we already know that JFNA lay leaders don't ask questions).
So regarding Jerry's successor, who in their right mind, who has talent, would take this position?
Which brings us to the next part of this saga: In creating the program to honor Jerry for his 10 years of leadership, what will the list of accomplishments look like?
Talk about fake news.

Anonymous said...

So at least this way none of our "leaders" have to actively do anything to get this done, although a year and a half more is quite a price to pay for getting it done "nicely".
Is it worth a over one and a half million dollars to know that at least there is an end in sight?

Anonymous said...

I fear it is too late to save this operation. Even if a superhero could be found that would be willing to take the job a year and a half from now, our national organization is probably damaged beyond repair. I wonder who will get the credit for this result of what will be 10 years of neglect and apathy. We really blew it this time!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Anon 3:49, wait and see.
Renee Rothstein and her bloated marketing department will create quite a tribute to the last 10 years.

Anonymous said...

Before JFNA starts searching for a CEO, I hope there is some deep soul-searching about whether there even needs to be a JFNA and if so, what it should be. Otherwise, the next CEO will be just as unsuccessful as all of his/her predecessors. After all, "if you don't know where you are going, no road will get you there."

Anonymous said...

There is a document circulating among the LCEs about what the new structure should look like, the role of the CEO, and the relations with the federations.

Anonymous said...

Responding to Anonymous 2:35 p.m.

I am a CEO of a federation not quite as Large as a Large City. For almost 9 years I have, as you have, Richard, been pleading with Large City Executives to stand up, if for no other reason than the profession they have led, and DO SOMETHING about the mess, the incompetence and worse (yes, it's been even worse). To a person, these guys refused to do ANYTHING FORALMOST 9 YEARS. And NOW the are "circulating a document about JFNA structure, the CEO and federation relations?

Can this group be trusted with anything at this point after they refused to take any responsibility for the entirety of Silverman's terms?

Anonymous said...

As usual the LCEs want to call the shots. [Mostly} old white men who are still / again behind the times.

They got us in this mess, and we should expect them to get us out? Thanks @2:35 for today's humor.

Anonymous said...

I'm also a federation CEO who, like my Anonymous colleague @3:13 tried to persuade the so-called "deans" of the LCE to step in and right the jfna ship. They did nothing other than to warn me against "allowing" my lay leaders to stop paying JFNA Dues (for which neither my community nor theirs was getting anything other than federal grants. Before these professionals should be allowed to "lead" us anywhere, they mustadmit that they have been part of the problem.

I associate myself with you, Richard, in your urging that an Interim CEO be appointedin Jerry's stead to begin the process of healing and reconstruction. Silverman has no role to play.

Anonymous said...

All these brave anonymous federation execs demanding action from other federation execs. Inspiring stuff.

RWEX said...

To the last Anon. Have you anything at all to offer? I for one would love to read it.

Anonymous said...

If the secret that it appears everyone has know about is the LCEs, then shame on them and every Chair of JFNA since Jerry Silverman was employed.
But that's water under the bridge.
What needs to happen now is that JFNA should cut a deal for Jerry to leave ASAP, appoint an interim CEO, and move forward.
His staying will ensure that nothing productive will happen for 18 months; it will be the same as the last 8 1/2 years: No leadership, no creativity, no inspiration.
I feel mostly for the JFNA professional staff.
What a shame.