Saturday, May 5, 2018


Frank Bruni recently articulated a strong condemnation of perverted leadership in an Op-Ed in the New York Times. What Bruni wrote resonated with me as I hope it does for you. In pertinent part, he wrote:

"A leader articulates a clear vision and set of principles, which become  a well-lighted path that well-intentioned people can tread.
A leader takes some share of responsibility.
A leader attracts top talent.
A leader knows whose counsel to seek and whose to be wary of. 
 ...a leader should...challenge himself -- and the rest of us -- to be bigger."
JFNA is now on the cusp of leadership change. The seminal question is whether the organization's Nominating Committee now and Search Committee in the near-term future (please G-d) will ask the right questions, make the right demands so that the next organizational leaders will be those JFNA needs so desperately.

There is a tendency in failing organizations for its leaders to look around, sing Kumbaya, and assume: "inasmuch as we are the leaders, everything must be OK." This has clearly been the case at JFNA for a decade and more. True, Kathy Manning may have been "well-intentioned" when she  "articulate(d) a clear vision" but the Global Planning Table wasn't just one devoid of principles, it proved to be incoherent and turned JFNA away from its purpose to drive the system up the road of collective responsibility. Since then, her successors have either thrown on the table beautiful pipe dreams not thought through like Siegal's "free" Jewish education or Sandler's NextGen thing -- both wonderful ideas for sure. (At some point both of the Chairs must have come to realize that the CEO was unable to execute these dreams -- or maybe they didn't/don't to this day -- yet, I see the imprint of both Siegal and Sandler on Silverman's "retirement." So, there's that.)

Frank Bruni offered some excellent guideposts for "leadership." Ya' think anyone at JFNA might follow them? Please?

Just asking.



Anonymous said...

If they were smart they would put you on the search committee.

BOB HYFLER said...

What ails the federated Jewish world is not the absence or quality of leadership. It is the absence of an informed,sustained, multi-generation conversation among the many on our collective challenges and directions.

By seeing our future only from the top down we will simply recreate a failed system where hasbarism has replaced a truly honest 21st century engagement with Israel and where our domestic agenda is overwhelmed by foundation funded outreach and continuity initiatives predicated on the thoroughly insulting notion that Diaspora Jews neither care of understand what it means to be Jewish.

How we create local structures responsive to the grass roots and imbued with a radical notion of inclusiveness is a task that goes beyond the question of who our next generation of gurus might be, or who have what lay and professional titles moving forward.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect to Mr. Hyfler, that informed, sustained, multi-generation conversation will not take place in the world of jfna.
Don't get your hopes up.
The inherent issue with all the CEOs and Chairs since Rieger is that the leadership of jfna doesn't appear to be interested in anything, other than jfna itself. They don't ask their stakeholders who fund the quagmire that is 25 Broadway what they want out of the organization. Until the federations get a pair and demand that process, and the search committee demands that from the new CEO, whomever she may be, then all that will happen is the perpetuation of the disaster that is jfna.