Sunday, September 30, 2012


In response to a Comment to the Post Script Post, an Anonymous Commentator wrote something that must be acknowledged:

Last anonymous: there are still good people there. Don't denigrate everyone; lots of good, dedicated and federation-centric work being done and being appreciated by our communities. Don't through everything out just because there is enmity against some of the leadership. 
While I reject the suggestion that the Commentator makes that the person to whom he/she is responding (or anyone associated with this Blog) has "enmity against some of the leadership" (look up the definition at your convenience), I certainly agree with the balance of this Comment -- I know that all of us agree that there are some great professionals at JFNA striving to do great work of direct benefit to our federations. 

The problem is that these pros are swimming upstream against a tide of irrelevant programs for such minimal benefit to the federations as to be beyond measure or rational thought. I feel for them.


Friday, September 28, 2012


Yes, I've called them Keystone Kops and accused them of driving a Clown Car. But, no more. For weeks I have had my eye on the most incompetent of incompetents in game after game -- from now on, the JFNA leaders are rebranded; from this day forward they are (trumpets please) -- the Replacement Referees...the Replacement Refs

It was only over the past few days that I came to understand the direct and perfect analogy:

  • JFNA leaders entered office over the past six years and even more so over the past 3 with good intentions, no doubt, so did the Replacement Refs; 
  • These JFNA leaders at no time understood the federations any more than the Replacement officials understood the NFL rules;
  • The Federation owners had no collective interest in taking control of an evermore deteriorating organization just as the National Football League owners ignored the impact of the Replacement Refs on their teams, their product..on the integrity of the game.
But, unlike the NFL owners, JFNA just goes on, sewing the seeds of chaos (GPT anyone?) and harvesting the fruits of ill-conceived programs (two Festivi), and the federation owners apparently believe all is well while the NFL team owners finally realized that sticking by the Replacement Referees threatened the value of the NFL franchise. Gosh, just think of it...owners taking action to preserve the franchise. But the federation Owners of JFNA just go on in apparent ignorance of the $700,000,000...that's 700 million dollars... thrown at JFNA in the apparent hope that somehow things will get better.

So, welcome to the Jewish version of the Replacement Referees. Makes you proud.


Thursday, September 27, 2012


I have now been described, in response to the outcry over the "zionism" controversy, as a number of things, none good, including "a JFNA hater." Anyone who knows me or who has been reading the 800 Posts that I have written, knows that it is not JFNA I "hate;" it is how JFNA has been run that I should you.

When JFNA was created, in part through my efforts along with many others, leaders were offered an organization with Vision and purpose. Today, ask the CEO, Board Chair and Chair of the Executive for a statement of purpose and vision and you will receive a blank stare or some vague statement of what JFNA "is not." Ask them for a list of JFNA accomplishments over the past three or, even, six years and not much will be added. What we have is but a shadow of the organizations it replaced -- that was not our intent -- an organization that not only raises almost no funds; it has almost no professional staff to do so; an organization that spends millions on a Global Planning effort so dense and convoluted that it is doomed to failure while spending millions to develop a Rube Goldberg-like "process" that translates into a monumental waste of resources; a national organization of the federations that spends millions to promote its own brand; a leadership that has laid waste to the treasured partnerships with the Jewish Agency and Joint while claiming fealty to both; and a Board just thrilled to be there, leaving their sense of responsibility back home. 

That's what I "hate." 


Monday, September 24, 2012

GA 2012

It appears to some of us that the Baltimore General Assembly, November 11-13, is in trouble. The signs:
  1.  "Early Bird" Registration was extended on September 13 to September 22, and then, again to September 26. Maybe they should just extend the "discounted" Registration Fee to November 13. 
  2. They sent GA Update Form after my excision from all things JFNA.
Last year the GA was both a substantive and attendance flop with only 835 full pay Registrants. It should not be that way and after linking to the GA "Final" Program, this year the GA promises to be a substantive success -- it is really an excellent Program with sessions focusing on tachlis.  Could it be that this Program bears Joanne Moore's hand -- if so, she will be even more sorely missed.

And, after I wrote this Post and published it, I received two pieces from JFNA that raised some interesting questions -- at least to me:

  1. An invitation to a gala good-bye celebration of Manning's, Gelman's and Raskes's's's three years of service. Were I attending, I would surely be there to wish them adieu. No doubt Kathy will speak for all three as she has been doing for three years.
  2. Under the headline Join Top Jewish Newsmakers, JFNA added the beautiful voice of Edon Pinchot whose singing appearances on some reality TV show have made a wonderful young man into a celebrity. (Edon is the son of a real estate associate who did great work with me at my former firm.) But, come on. One cynical FOB suggested that Edon would chair the Panel on lay-professional relations.
The gang that couldn't shoot straight.

Gmar tov to one and all.


Friday, September 21, 2012


One of the FOB sent me an op-ed on abuses (or potential ones) in our philanthropic world. Written by Martin Edwards, the CEO of the Great Britain children's hospice, Julia's House, it concludes:

"Dirty secret

... in my 20-year odyssey through the sector ...I've realised that the real charity world has its own dirty secret, one that the public rarely glimpses. It is that a significant minority of charities are run as personal fiefdoms of overbearing chief executives or chairs.
Happily, I have landed in a charity where good practice reigns, but I have come across some benighted ones too - enough to make me think that the sector is littered with the broken pieces of good people crushed by their charity's malfeasance.
Other sectors have their governance horror stories too, but the power given to trustees in charity law is substantial, and abuses can follow; and if there is a power vacuum on the board - and we have all known trustees with a scarily laissez-faire approach to their duties - it can be filled by a chief executive taking an unchecked hold on the organisation.
Weakness of sanctions
Whenever I read about whistle-blowers seeking help from the Charity Commission's well-meaning compliance unit, I often groan at the long timescales and the weakness of some of the sanctions deployed.
One day there might be a case of a misbehaving charity that captures the public appetite for stories of corporate malpractice or greed. When that time comes, it could tarnish the reputation of the majority of us who strive to do right for a good cause. Our secret will be out, and it may indeed rock our sector to the very fabric of its being. In time, it might lead to a clean-up, to more resources for the commission's compliance unit and less aversion to the strongest sanctions. Until then, things might need to get worse before they get better." (Emphasis added)

Friends, at JFNA, unknown to Mr. Edwards, things cannot get much worse.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012


To paraphrase the brilliant Wall Street Journal columnist, Bret Stephens, on a wholly different topic than he had focused upon: "I tend to think that the buzz about (federation) decline mistakes the mediocrity of (JFNA leadership) for the destiny of the (federation system)." We have heard and read that we have entered the "post-federation system;" and a large number of recent CEO hires suggest that lay and professional leadership in so many places haven't a real clue about federation core values or about the lay role in the lay-professional partnership that is at the heart of federation qua federation -- and certainly there's no one home at JFNA who might coach them as they are clueless at 25 Broadway as never before. Is it any wonder, when coupled with a crushing economic reality and a national organization incapable or unable to provide any guidance, so many of our federations feel they can no longer find their way?

We can point back but a few years in JFNA history, when the organization positioned its Consulting Services professionals at the intersection of consultants and federations in strategic planning processes. Rather than any attempt to infuse those communal-led processes with federationcentric values, in apparent ignorance of them, federations like San Diego and Philadelphia, once at the center of federation work were led away from the centrality of federation in Jewish communal life and planning -- and the results, as they say, speak for themselves. Those who raised substantive concerns about JFNA's role in this process at the Departmental level were merely cast aside.

And we can point to the deconstruction of the entire financial resource development effort at JFNA. FRD, its most critical effort, the one most wanted by federation after federation in JFNA's own internal federation polling (polling discontinued when it consistently conflicted with JFNA leaders' determination to turn its fleeting attention elsewhere. Staff down-sized (at one point the entire FRD operation was placed under the control of an unknowing, out of touch, Consulting Services professional), lay Chairs cast aside or ignored (until they quit), federation lay visits for suite solicitation, FRD solicitor training, leadership development eliminated. JFNA now saw itself as something for which its current leadership were far better suited -- party planning, big (although they turned out small) "events" like the Festivus and the like. Pretty soon they will be doing cruise ships. But having announced a new and enhanced national Missions program, JFNA produced a NWP Mission of some success and...then...announced and recruited for and canceled a King David Society Mission to "Peru," scheduled it to compete with the Prime Minister's Mission to Berlin, make that Rome, and Israel, canceled the KDS Mission, and have fewer registrants on the PM Mission than over the history of JFNA. They can't even run the events they hype -- more on TribeFest later this New Year.

We can point to the millions spent on JFNA marketing itself as another act of terrible futility. Rebranding, tag lines...millions gone. Waste everywhere we look. An organization in search of its purpose when purpose is found in 157 federations and 400 Network communities.

Then, there is the JFNA executive placement process operated by JFNA with its Mandel Center for Excellence in Leadership and Management. Best I can tell, the Mandel Leaders of the yada yada yada feel no responsibility to input federationcentric values into the CEO search processes they lead. They don't get it. You want a guy who marketed khakis and worked for a third echelon Jewish organization, we got that guy; you want someone from outside the federation system, we've got plenty; you want a sitting Federation campaign Chair or similar who wants to lead a Large City federation, we've got a few of those. JUst us tell us what you want. Federation values....what are those? Experiences...who needs 'em? This is the same Mandel Center, by the way, that ran that short-lived (two "classes") program for future federation CEOs -- if that Mandel can't connect with what they are doing in this Mandel, what hope is there?

Now, federation after federation has turned  away not just from hiring from within but to hiring from far, far away. While converting lay leaders deeply involved in federation A to CEO in federation B may work (e.g., Atlanta) or not (e.g., San Diego and so many more), empirical results aren't yet in and the sample is small. Of greater concern are those communities whose lay leaders fail to comprehend that it is the professional leader who represents communal continuity not them. This conflation of professional leaders with no historic experience with federation where lay leaders are similarly lacking strikes me as a recipe for communal disaster. And JFNA's leaders? They sit back, wring their hands and issue Briefings.

A recent hire in a major federation was described in the puff piece announcing the  appointment thusly: "______ is typical of an increasing number of accomplished business executives who, after achieving great success both in business and as a community volunteer believe they can achieve even more good by devoting their full energy and talent to their true passion." Let us pray. This new CEO comes from within the Federation family with a federation lay background; so many more, like Jerry Silverman, as one example, do not. This new CEO succeeds a talented and experienced federation professional who had earned her chops with the superb leadership of another federation; her successor, whom we wish every success, earned his in a marketing role at Nationwide Insurance and in multiple lay roles at federation. 

As I close, Federations "in the market" for a new CEO should understand this: not one federation which has opted "outside the system" believing that this evidenced their "thinking outside the boxes" can point to sustained successful outcomes. From JFNA through every federation that has done so...not a single success. We've seen the "deck chairs" move, oh yes; we've seen new "tag lines," sure; we've seen community after community "revisioning" -- but, we have seen not a single example of success. At least not yet.

Not one.

JFNA, at $30.3 million per year is on life support, without purpose or vision.. Introspection, any one?

L'shana tova tikateivu.


Sunday, September 16, 2012


Let me begin by wishing each and every one of you and your families a shana tovah u'metuka -- a wonderful, meaningful and sweet New Year.

It is that time in the annual Jewish life cycle for reexamination, for introspection, for change. We are offered this opportunity by our faith, by our relationship with God and with our People and with our interrelated communities. Annually I seriously look at myself, my relations with those closest to me, with those that I love, with the communities and People who I love as well. I believe in teshuva, in repentance, but I also believe in change, in truth, in never giving up principle for expediency...and I believe in the ability to change -- as I think all of us do.

I have been reading the Bialik, Israel and Nobel Prize winning S.Y. Agnon's seminal work, Days of Awe, in preparation for our High Holy Days. Agnon's words and insights into these Days, and, more critically, into the relationship between men, women and God inspire me to once again look into myself, into how I can try to effect changes in myself and in those things I care most about -- the real "changes I can believe in."

It must be terribly painful to those around us whose idea of "change" is to pander, to merely talk or write about changes and then to do nothing to effect them. I can think of nothing more sad or more worthless -- those who care only about the tube but not at all about the toothpaste; those who confuse personal agendas with "change;" those who believe that they can repaint failures in the bright patina of successes by repetition. They sadden me and I will pray for them in the days ahead. I will pray that they will come to understand that there can be no change until they understand the damage they have done in their belief that only they know "the way," "the truth." It is so clear that as these Yamim Noraim are now upon us, they know not or refuse to acknowledge the damage they wreak.

I read a New Year's message late last week -- Embracing Change: A Rosh Hashanah Message -- that confirmed that some who talk about "change" haven't the courage to engage in the kind of introspection that might lead to real change. Just as one who is addicted must acknowledge the addiction before change can take place, so must those who have led in the waste of hundreds of millions of our most precious dollars acknowledge their failings before change can truly be "embraced." When I read time and again that the Global Planning Table and the sadly diminished Young Leadership Cabinet and TribeFest are examples of success -- of "embracing change in core areas...offering huge promise" -- I despair. Instead of talking and writing of the need to "recreate ourselves," isn't it time to demand deeds instead of words, a true "re-creation." And, isn't it time to demand of current and new leadership, lay and professional, nationally and locally, that the changes taking place in our communities be reflected in our national institution, to ask "what is our national organization doing to 'renew and nurture our communities' beyond giving lip service?" 

I, with you, will engage in serious introspection during these High Holy Days as is demanded of us; now, we must demand of those in whom we have entrusted our communities to do the same.

Again, a shana tova u'metukah to each and every one of you and your families -- a wonderful, meaningful and sweet New Year.


Saturday, September 15, 2012


In the recent Post, A DELUGE OF TOADS, I observed some of the, shall we say, deficiencies at JFNA under its CEO. Many of you have written me on-line and off, with your own observations and Comments and, in doing so, you have raised very serious questions. Among them:
  • Is it enough to possess an enthusiastic and infectious personality; is it enough to be "likeable?" What if "...once he leaves a community there is nothing there?"
  • What does his tag line from multiple speeches -- "we are here for you" -- means nothing in practice? What if there is no follow through at all?
  • Is it insecurity or willful negligence when the CEO does not debrief his Senior professionals on the topics discussed, needs federations expressed or any follow-up strategies?
  • Is there one federation out there that can point to the help it received from a "Jerry visit" after he has gone?
  • Have hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel costs to the federations been wasted or is cheerleading without substance enough?
As background noise to CEO Jerry's many presentations, do I hear the beeping of a garbage truck going backwards?


Thursday, September 13, 2012


The Global Planning Table Committee met on September 12. All of a sudden JFNA believes it can preempt comment by sending out its own Summary of the meeting. I have redacted the already brief report from David Butler as follows:

First another repetition of the schedule and the Rube Goldberg-like structure. Yada, yada, yada.

Then, "(The Work Groups) began with very broad area assignments, and were asked to narrow the focus of planned work in each area.   Their challenging task was to look within each area at the programs we are funding collectively as well as potential new areas of engagement, and to articulate high level goals and priorities for our collective work going forward.

Today, we heard from the first two groups and reports will be delivered by the remaining groups in late October.  Once all four have had a chance to present their recommendations, we will share them with all of you and with the broader community through a series of consultations and input sessions designed to help us move closer to a set of action recommendations.
This is not a simple task, and our discussions have been highly engaging and even challenging at times.  We are fortunate to have such motivated and passionate leaders working collaboratively to refine our collective mission and determine how and where we can work together to have the greatest impact around our Jewish world."

Then, more yada, yada, yada and Happy New  Year.

In other words...nothing happened...or, maybe something did but they're not sharing anything with you. But, I have always believed it is good form for a bunch of Jewish leaders to get together and work toward....what, exactly? The GPT could very well be the most colossal waste of lay and professional time and communal dollars short of the TribeFests than any other "organized" (and I use that word advisedly) activity in Jewish communal history. 

More's the pity.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Commenting (?) on the DELUGE OF TOADS Post. one wrote:

"If only those who wrote you had the balls to sign their names."

Sent by "ANONYMOUS."

Speaks for itself.



As you know if you read these pages, since JFNA's toe-dipping in the "controversial" waters of "Zionism," I have been so black-listed that I don't even receive the occasionally riotous Leadership Briefings, so I have to rely upon the kindness of friends. So, bless you, my friends, for keeping me apprised of the daily comedy of life at 25 Broadway.

An example: you will recall that JFNA was awarded the Zeta Beta Tau Jewish Organization of the Year (or something) Award. Now comes word (and I am not making this up) that "[W]e're a 2012 Nonprofit Tagline Award Finalist" (whooopie!!!) for "Strength of a People. The Power of a Community." You can vote to assure JFNA another victory to join with that already received from ZBT.

Another: Susie Stern, the National Campaign Chair, has one of the greatest bios in national Jewish life. You can read a complete CV on the Jewish Women's International website. Just as with the Board Chair last year, one has to ask: is there no one around to tell these leaders that it is totally inappropriate to be honored, as Manning was and as Susie will be this year, by a fund-raising organization that competes with federations? That's a rhetorical question, of course. 

Then there's the tragi-comic aspect.  Susie is presented as the "first woman national campaign chair" as JFNA announced in one of those "creative" Leadership Briefings. She wasn't -- Carole Solomon will always be the first. To engage in this unnecessary puffery and hyperbole is an insult to this great woman leader who actually created the ILOJC and, if memory serves (and there is no institutional memory within JFNA even though Susie clearly would remember), it was Carole who asked Stern and Chicago's great leader Lois Zoller to Co-Chair that 1993 Conference. But there was no need to embellish one of the great resumes in Jewish leadership as JFNA has done -- as JFNA always seems to do -- and, in this instance, surely, had Stern seen the Briefing before it went public, wouldn't she have corrected it?  Why this embellishment? Why, you might ask? Just because that's what they do. (Even more astonishing is that not one JFNA leader -- not Manning, not Stern, not Silverman -- reached out to Carole Solomon to invite her to this Conference, let alone to speak at it. As a FOB wrote me -- this was "rude and thoughtless.") But,  having now been reminded of the "facts," JFNA has made its own feeble effort (another Briefing) to correct the record and acknowledge Carole's creative role in the ILOJC -- with quotes, no less.

But, bottom line, understand this: just as did her Board Chair last year, the current JFNA National Campaign Chair is now helping another organization raise money...not money for JFNA (which, as I understand it, needs lots more).

What the hell are we about any more? Although I think I know.


Sunday, September 9, 2012


She promised us that we had hired a new Moshe -- someone for the ages, from outside our system who would lead us out of Egypt. A successful businessman who spoke the language (ignore the cliches), not another of those "Large City Executives." He would be filled with new ideas. At last we would find our way to a new land of milk and honey. They flew in Moses from Boston. So far, truth be told, all we have experienced has been a deluge of toads. 

Jerry Silverman was hired by a Search Committee filled with federation lay leaders heavily in the thrall of Kathy Manning, hand-picked, in the main, because they could be "counted on." Jerry was whom she wanted...demanded. Interesting resume, great success at the tiny Foundation for Camp (where he rebranded the organization), great presentation to the Search Committee...and he had Manning's support. This was a support that continued through what was described as an intense two year evaluation -- I was not one of the "evaluators" but, those of you who were, answer me this: Did Manning approach you as she did me with the following: "I want your opinion about how Jerry is doing." "Don't you think he has been doing great?!" That's "evaluation" JFNA style.

I think that any fair evaluation would positively accentuate: Jerry's accessibility -- he has visited almost every federation by now (although what he has learned on those visits appears to be negligible when it comes to advocacy for the federations' wants and needs to which he expresses great sympathy and understanding...and then does nothing); he has been our system's advocate in the halls of the Knesset on issues ranging from "Who Is A Jew" to incivility in Israel (but in trying to do so alone, he has disregarded the playbook from the demonstrable successes in the past); we do have a new "brand" (but the cost of "rebranding" and proselytizing for the brand which actually first emerged in 1999 have yet to be totaled up and, probably exceed $2.5 million); he has been unique among current JFNA professionals  -- he has done some important major gift fund raising with Federation CEOs -- but not enough, not nearly enough; Jerry's professional hiring pattern has been awful: on the plus side, his efforts retained William Daroff, who continues, even with all of the tweeting, to be the JFNA superstar, brought back Mindy Hepner, and hired Matt Freedman away from Baltimore, terrific professionals (but what are they asked to do?), but he also brought in Joanne Moore, who appeared to have superstar potential, then deferred to a consultant and the Board Chair and the SVP for Israel and Overseas, leaving this professional of such potential no choice but to leave, and he brought over Paul Kane from New York UJA-Federation, perhaps at their demand, who has functioned as...what, exactly -- certainly not to protect and rebuild JFNA's FRD function -- maybe the consummate cheerleader.

Meanwhile JFNA has spent $90 million under this CEO with the same negligible results of his predecessor. A lost three years. Sure, there has been good continued programming in low level gift development. I-LEAD, and the like. But the big bucks have been thrown at, e.g., TribeFest 1 and 2, the Global Planning Table, Community Heroes, a futile Israel and Overseas effort that aspires to be something more when it can't show a single accomplishment over the last 6 years and branding, branding, always branding. And, now, Silverman sees himself as the little boy at the JFNA dyke, plugging gaping holes created by his Chair with his thumbs -- he'll need more of those, it appears  -- and joining in the  vendettas

When Jerry was on the cusp of his JFNA work, he visited with many of us, allegedly seeking guidance. Many of us told him to immediately hire an EVP from and of the federations. He demurred, "I want to first get the lay of the land." OK, and now it's three years later and... Hmmm. Rumors were he was searching for the right person earlier in 2012 but that there was such great pressure within the JFNA hierarchy from those not experienced in and of the federations on his senior staff that Jerry backed off. While Silverman now believes that he totally understands the federations because he has dropped in on all of them, he doesn't. The need for that federation-centric EVP continues, now more than ever.

Do I think Jerry should go?  I think he needs Chairs who understand how the federation system works and give him direction. And, he needs to understand that his current Chairs need to be told "enough" -- enough with the Global Planning Table, enough with the total misguided micromanagement, enough with the vendettas.

So much rests on the shoulders of Michael Siegal and Dede Feinberg...because we all know what follows a deluge of toads.


Thursday, September 6, 2012


One Commentator examining the chaos at JFNA suggested one solution I hadn't thought of:

I hereby nominate David Copperfield as the new Chairman of the Global Planning Table. David Butler has done a great job preparing the GPT for its next act. 

Copperfield, the famous magician will know what to do with this one... 

Over the last weeks I have been reminded of the quote from 1993 when then Secretary of State Warren Christopher was roaming the globe without any impact: "This wouldn't have happened if Warren Christopher was still alive." I feel the same way about GPT Chair David Butler. I got to know  David when he represented Dr. Misha Galperin and I JAFI -- he was terrific to work with, always responsive, he aggressively and professionally represented his client.  It was a good and professional negotiation to closure. He is a well-regarded community leader and, no doubt, his selection along with his his friend, Joanne Moore's appointment, promised, as I wrote back then, a redirection of the Global Planning Table. But...stuff happened. David, today, is an apologist for the mistakes of others, and an apparent bystander to the catastrophe that the GPT has become.

Were I a betting man, I would wager that Butler is very unhappy: his friend Joanne Moore has left with no support (or thanks) from the JFNA CEO, opportunities to revamp the GPT that first appeared on these pages were rejected by JFNA without even apparently being read, and he has become the "enforcer' of a policy of total secrecy inconsistent with the public's business.

I don't buy that David is obligated by his appointment to total obsequity to the demands, however irrational, of the Board Chair (or her consultant) or the CEO; unless David was told when he accepted the Chairmanship of the GPT: "Many thanks, now stand there in the corner and nod your head when we point to you." He brought leadership skills to this position that far exceeded those who appointed him. Now...he needs to exercise them...he needs to become "David Copperfield"...if he is able.

I am reminded of two of many other lay leaders who stood up when it counted. One was one of my mentors in national Jewish life -- a strong personality who did not suffer fools at all. In the 90's this leader was asked to become the national UJA Marketing Chair. He strived to make the most of the position that he could but he resigned because, as he told me, "if _________________, the National Chair, is going to do my job as well as his own, then he doesn't need me. I'm not in this for titles." Then, more recently, David Fisher, now the CEO of Birthright, resigned his position as JFNA National Campaign Chair when he was frustrated by the actions of the Board Chair and CEO in ways that diminished the place of Campaign and FRD at JFNA over his protests. 

OK, class, compare and contrast.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012


The Forward's Nathan Guttman has written a lengthy piece on the fiasco that is the Global Planning Table -- you can read the entire article at . Unfortunately, the article must have been seeded by JFNA itself, as it is riffled with errors that only JFNA's leaders could possibly have provided. Examples abound:
  1. The Global Planning table is an "ambitious reform overhaul the way American Jews direct their contribution for causes in Israel." No, sorry, the GPT is an ill-conceived and terribly structured attempt to rationalize the precipitous and catastrophic drop in Federation allocations to the core budgets of JAFI/JDC.
  2. Building on this mischaracterization, Guttman continued -- "...the reform plan...was supposed to resolve difficulties in dividing the millions of dollars raised by Jewish Federations...between the Jewish Agency...and the...Joint..." Far from it: the GPT as designed was to deconstruct the funding relationship between the North American federations and JAFI and Joint. In fact, omitted from the article, the contractual allocations split between JAFI and JDC had been terminated in 2010 and, in all events, most federations no longer considered themselves bound by the agreements of JDC and JAFI.
  3. The major issue confronting Joanne Moore's resignation mid-process is characterized by the reporter as "...a result of the difficulty (she) found (in resolving)...the tug of war between JAFI and JDC over their share of the overseas funding budget." JFNA's leaders, in their continuing policy of "the buck stops there,"  might like to believe this to be the case...but that conflict was not at the heart of the issues confronting the GPT -- driven by micromanagement of consultant, Board Chair and CEO into a chaotic, Rube Goldbergian mess. When suggestions of an effective process appeared on the pages of this Blog, JFNA's leaders were disinterested (perhaps, because the concepts that might have reformed the chaotic GPT appeared on the pages of this Blog.)
  4. Guttman concluded that because of institutional obstacles placed in the path of "reform" by JAFI and the Joint, the federations voted last month to extend the contractual split between the "historic partners." That was not the case in any way, shape or form. Though JAFI and the JDC had reached agreement on modifying the split agreement on two separate occasions even before the Global Planning Table process was initiated, those agreements were rejected by JFNA without reason. (Oh, there were "reasons," in the first instance because the amended Agreement would have been for a term of five years, the second, for no reason, the Board Chair merely elected to rewrite that attempt unilaterally. There were "reasons," reason if you get my drift.)
  5. If, as Nathan Guttman wrote, "...[T]he federation's Israel arm has long been unhappy with its representation on the GPT," and JFNA-Israel now finds itself "in control" of the GPT, is it not fair to conclude that Moore's resignation was triggered more by internal JFNA "politics" and micromanagement than anything else?
All in all it appears that those who informed Nathan Guttman's valiant attempt to make sense of the unintelligible tried as usual to blame third parties (in this case the easy "fall guys" -- JAFI and Joint) for their own bumbling, fumbling and failing. Remember -- it is never their fault.


Monday, September 3, 2012


In the land where black is white and white is black, last month the JFNA Board (or at least the few Board members who participated in the Conference Call meeting)  approved a Resolution extending the JFNA/JAFI/JDC 2010 Agreement. You know, the one that JFNA breached from the outset. Yeah, that one. Well, after the vote, JFNA couldn't wait to get the victory message out -- here is how the Resolution was characterized:

"Historic Partners' Unrestricted Allocations Established for Upcoming Year"

Really? How's that? Can the Jewish Agency and the Joint now count on a sum certain core allocation through JFNA? Can these "historic partners" count on JFNA for anything? If you bother to read the narrative that accompanied this Title, you learned that the Board resolved " to maintain our current allocation structure in accordance with the guidelines set out in the..." 2010 Agreement. And, that would have been fine but (1) there were no "allocation guidelines" in that Agreement and (2) only a fan of Orwell would note that JFNA now characterizes the Agreement that it has breached and breached again as "the JAFI/JDC/JFNA funding agreement." A better description -- the JFNA/JAFI/JDC defunding agreement.

That one paragraph "update" on this meaningless resolution should have been enough...but someone at JFNA (hmmm, I wonder whom that might have been?) didn't think so. Only a few hours later, over the same ridiculous title came five paragraphs of prose in a Leadership Briefing. This included a one paragraph quote from...the Board Chair asserting, among other things "...we want to be sensitive to the needs of the Jewish Agency and JDC regarding their own planning and budgeting processes." Manning is surely the mistress of irony, isn't she?

George Orwell sleeps well tonight. JAFI and JDC should not.

Also, in an Orwellian act of almost unheard of juvenile pettiness, JFNA has deleted my e-mail address from its distribution list for its Briefings, alerts etc.  Ahhh, it's time for these children to go home, isn't it? Kind of reminds me of the actions of "Palestinian leaders" who, the Gatestone Institute reported, stand accused "...of waging a campaign of intimidation...against journalists, bloggers and...opponents..."