It's come to this: I look at the JFNA of today and that bloated non-entity conjures up the image in my mind of what a whale committing suicide must look like. This is the post-shame Jewish Federations of North America. Its Board is as Winston Churchill described his foes: "Sheep in sheep's clothing." Friends, the Hall of Fame Alabama football Coach, Nick Saban, challenges his teams: "How good do you want to be?" It's clear that JFNA would not/does not even understand the question.
If, as the management guru, Jimmy Collins, has written: "Good is the evil of great," how bad is the evil of mediocrity of failure baked into JFNA? At JFNA it's as if someone should just order the Code Red. One of my favorite columnists has observed: "You just can't teach failing at failing. You either have the gift or you don't" -- JFNA has "the gift of ailing...in spades."
I despair as never before. The organization has become so feckless, it has run out of "feck." Worthless, useless. In any successful organization you see building on success -- from small successes to great successes; but at JFNA any success (other than the work in Washington and episodes of disaster relief) is a one-off succeeded not by greater success but by folly and failure, Thus a so-called "reorganization" of the Young Leadership Cabinets (it was really nothing) is followed by a Yoga Weekend, great Missions of the past to Israel are eliminated with minor Missions to, e.g., a Leadership Mission to Argentina and Uruguay.
That is all but prologue. In the past months, crises and potential crises have confronted or will soon confront federations -- federations which, in the past, could have turned to the national system for advice and counsel. Today, given the void at 25 Broadway, created and now perpetuated by JFNA, the federations either turn inward, turn to another or are given the worst possible advice.
~ In New Jersey allegations of long-term sexual harassment and abuse by the Director of the communal camping effort were met head on and brilliantly by the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, Dov Ben-Shimon, who demanded, among other things, the immediate resignation of the entire Camp Board;
~ Within the Jewish Federation of St. Paul, a long-standing $3,000,000 account payable to the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee was written off by the community either in consultation with or at the direction of JFNA professional leaders with: (a) no prior consultation with JAFI/JDC whose funds were voided; (b) and no sense of communal responsibility -- the same lay leaders who decided the write-off remained in power. No sense of moral obligation; no outrage.
~ Just weeks ago, the Dallas community was confronted with a lawsuit against its Jewish Community Centers arising out of alleged sexual assault on a minor at a local J. If the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas believes that it is somehow insulated from claims in this instance, they would have to be unaware of what has happened elsewhere. I am certain that JFNA has offered no counsel.I do have the strong sense that JFNA has cast the federations off; they are on their own. Send us the Dues, ask no questions, and we'll be fine. Do JFNA's officers understand that they serve the communities...or do they believe that federations should send JFNA their Dues...and, that's about it.
If you and your community like this, just keep semding the Dues, and ask no questions.