Sunday, October 28, 2012


Our friends at ejewishphilanthropy have done a great service, once again: this time presenting Dr. Steven Windmueller's institutional assessment of "successful" organizational models when evaluated by the principles enunciated by management guru Jim Collins.

"Good to Great: A Jewish Ten-Point Institutional Assessment Evaluating Successful Jewish Organizational Models - JNF, ADL, AIPAC, Hadassah

Using Jim Collins’ Good to Great principles, I had occasion to study four institutions within the American Jewish communal system, comparing their practices with Collins’ concepts related to the social sector.[1]

Employing his standards, I was able to evaluate ADL, AIPAC, Hadassah, and Jewish National Fund. A summary of the core findings appears below. Realizing that each of these national institutions has a distinguished but distinctive history, it is not always possible to compare these different types of agencies. AIPAC as a 501 C 4 organization has a different set of accountability standards as a lobbying entity than one finds with the traditional C 3 nonprofit institutions.

The organizations in this cohort secured high marks around a significant number of these standards. Critics of some or all of these institutions may want to take a second look at the sustaining power, institutional creativity, and historical resiliency of these four unique organizations. This acknowledgement is not to suggest that these and other institutions have not struggled in light of the economy, the emergence and/or growth of competitors, and the changing demographic picture of the Jewish community among other threats to their institutional position. No doubt, the impact of the Bernard Medoff scandal would create financial challenges for at least one of these organizations.

By way of an overview, each of these organizations has a defined “product” and can proudly market their record of achievement (i.e. their institutional outcomes).
  1. Single Agenda: “Passion for Mission and core Values” (Collins). How well do Jewish institutions stay on message and remain dedicated to their mission and vision? All of these four entities have demonstrated a highly focused agenda and successfully reinforce their core mission in all of their public relations materials. Each initiative appears to build upon their primary focus.
  2. Size Matters: “Those who build great organizations make sure they have the right people on the bus…”(Collins). One of the elements essential for greatness is capacity, both in terms of quality leadership and resource capacity. Each of the institutions in this study demonstrated strengths in relationship to possessing a leadership bench and in maintaining “resource capacity” (membership-financial infrastructure-systems of accountability, etc…). A strong leadership cadre is essential for organizations to effectively implement their core values and to build and sustain a viable infrastructure.
  3. See You in St. Louis, Baby!Leaders in great organizations build catalytic mechanisms to stimulate progress…”(Collins). A significant advantage that several of these mega-institutions have over other institutional models is their physical presence in key markets. For Collins, an organization that can “deliver results” represents an essential advantage. One of the ways this is best manifested in the Jewish communal system is bound up with geography. Institutional presence must be seen as an essential benefit. Each of these entities is strategically situated to deliver its product.
  4. Results Count: “The Hedgehog Concept: what you can be the best in the world at, what are you deeply passionate about and what best drives your economic or resource engine?” As Collins suggests those organizations that make “such a unique contribution” are ones that exhibit “unadulterated excellence”. At least several of these institutions are particularly attuned to examining their “impact” seeking to access how well they have performed. Beyond staying on task, organizational leaders must demonstrate quality of performance. JNF’s historic connection to “Planting a Tree in Israel” has served this organization well, providing a continuous link to its mission. Symbols of a different type are important to each of the other institutions as well.
  5. What’s in a Name?A resource engine composed of time, money and brand”(Collins). A core strength of the four institutions under review is the strong name recognition associated with each of them. Some of these organizations seek to promote and market their identity, yet others such as AIPAC consciously avoids high level media exposure. Each of these groups has successfully branded its product, Hadassah on women’s issues and its medical programs; JNF on Israel conservation and land development; ADL in fighting anti-Semitism and promoting tolerance; and AIPAC in advancing the pro-Israel agenda.
  6. Who Speaks for the Jews?Charisma bypass” Collins argues that quality organizations “do not depend upon having a charismatic personality to get things done.” Nonetheless, Collins denotes a leadership style that is essential, “one who is ambitious first and foremost for the cause… and have a fierce resolve to do whatever it takes to make good on that ambition.” There is evidence in part due to the nature of Jewish culture and practice that this principle may not uniformly hold. Leadership styles are distinctively different among all four of these entities. Within the political arena, it is essential that there be public spokespersons, and in the context of the work of the ADL that requires the presence of an Abe Foxman to frame the message and serve as its principal spokesperson. A contrasting model involves AIPAC where its success and impact is linked to its organizing strategies so that the voice of the pro-Israel community is in fact not delivered by one voice but effectively by a myriad of engaged supporters and activists. The role of voluntarism is particularly prominent within the culture of Hadassah where its chairpersons and board members play high profile roles. In each of the remaining groups lay leaders and volunteers perform vital functions but their roles vary, based on the culture and structure of these organizations.
  7. The Past Matters: “The Flywheel: no one killer innovation, no miracle moment … rather relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel in one direction … building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond”(Collins). As each of these institutions under review has a rich history (JNF has been in existence 109 years, AIPAC has been around since 1951, while two of these organizations are observing their centennial year, Hadassah in 2012 and ADL in 2013). Their respective past histories have informed and shaped their identity, message, and culture. In addition, a number of these institutions have individual heroes and role models upon which they have built their corporate identity.
  8. Less is Best!Stockdale Paradox: retain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time have the discipline” (Collins). Several of these agencies have faced serious internal or external challenges, yet they have been successful in managing crisis. Among these groups one can find distinctive institutional cultures that reinforce their core values. We are reminded as well about the complexity of their respective infrastructures (regional and international operations) related to each of these operations.
  9. Negotiating Both Sides: “Enduring great organizations are characterized by a fundamental duality. …timeless core values and …a relentless drive for change and progress.” Collins challenges the nonprofit world to be able to effectively negotiate preserving essential institutional principles while readily embracing a culture of change management. Here we don’t see the same uniformity among the four organizations as several are far more conscious about the changing market place in which the non profit sector must operate. Membership-based organizations face clearly different competitive challenges than do service and advocacy groups.
  10. Crossing Over: “Disciplined people … operating with freedom.” For Collins the “culture of discipline” allows professionals and volunteers to see their roles not as “jobs’ but as “responsibilities.” The commitment to cause seems particularly high among the key players associated with these four institutions.
Employing these specific institutional measures introduced by Jim Collins, we find in the case of these four Jewish organizations a high level of congruence. Their success can be measured in a number of ways, the high degree of name recognition, significant financial and membership support, their on-going effectiveness in delivering and branding their service or product, and the overriding quality of their leadership base."

Dr. Steven Windmueller is the Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service at the Jack H. Skirball Campus of Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. See his collection of writings at thewindreport.

Some of you may recall that Steven and our friend Jerry Bubis had, among other important works, completed an evaluation of the merger process and the resultant research publication was summarily rejected by JFNA's then leaders -- rejected, I might add, without having ever been read by most of them. That 2004 Report -- From Predictability to Chaos? How Jewish Leaders Reinvented Their National Communal System -- reflected widespread disappointment among those 88 leaders interviewed some five years post-Merger. Just think how those same informants would respond to the sasme questions today -- after the last six years. OMG!!

But, friends, take "these specific institutional measures" cited by Windmueller above and apply them to the JFNA of today. Then, come to your own conclusions.


Thursday, October 25, 2012


What's to become of us?

  • We reported  that JFNA's Chair demanded that the word "Zionism" never appear in a Global Planning Table Report -- "too controversial." Got that: "Zionism":"too controversial." More like JFNA: too stupid.
  • Where are the checks and balances? How do we have a consultant contract for close to $400,000 with no lay review?
  • Speaking of checks and balances. Isn't David Butler, a terrific leader in his federation, the Chair of the Global Planning Table? What, exactly, are his responsibilities? MC (when Manning permitted)?
  • Why did Joanne Moore resign within one year of her appointment to "run" the GA, "run" the Global Planning Table, take over federation relations, and more? Was it because she wasn't allowed to to do  any of the jobs she was hired to do? Or did she really....really?...just want to return to being a lay leader? Come onto
  • We're spending HOW MUCH on marketing, branding and communications about JFNA...itself?
  • JFNA speaks of how much it cherishes the Jewish Agency and JDC while masking its efforts to deconstruct the core allocations to both through the convoluted GPT.
  • A classic: JFNA's Financial Relations  and Executive Committees approved "hardship" relief in excess of $1 million in the aggregate to a cross-section of communities. At an Executive Committee meeting, one Large City Executive demanded, incessantly and stridently, that one federation, which received wholly appropriate Dues relief, have that relief restored to its Dues because of current campaign success. Might have been a more compelling case, don't you think, had that CEO not led the fight to get his own community a secret Dues reduction of in excess of $500,000 on the same grounds as the community he was now attacking??? Oh...never mind.
Get the new Chairs in place ASAP and then hope...pray...that they bring the CEO in and, in private, demand the truth about the costs and "benefits" of JFNA's purposes and programs. And, then, deal with those facts.


Monday, October 22, 2012


In less than two weeks, the GA will convene in Baltimore.  I hope all of you will attend in an expression of hope -- hope in the new Co-Chairs; hope that they will lead JFNA out of the darkness and into the light of a new day. My hope, which I am sure is yours as well, is that the Siegal/Feinberg team will assure that JFNA going forward will become a place of purpose and a place where the federations vision for what JFNA should be can be realized.

But, if you don't attend, as most of us will not, it should be understood how the literal collapse of the GA mirrors the collapse of JFNA in almost every way. JFNA itself expressed it best in its October 11 Leadership Briefing -- General Assembly Program News.
"Among the headliners...are David Gergen, senior political analyst for CNN; Rabbi Dick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism...;Michael Oren, ambassador of Israel...; Shelly Yacimovich, leader of Israel's Labor Party; Rabbi Heather Borshof, chaplain with the U.S. Army; and Edon, the 14-year-old 'America's Got Talent' semi-finalist."*
Yes. from the headliners of Past GA's -- Prime Ministers, Vice-Presidents, critical thought leaders, newsmakers -- now we offer... (and, I am betting that the sitting Board Chair will offer a duet with Edon as part of her long-awaited [ahem] "swan song.") All of us remember when an exciting GA Program was matched with exciting debate and discussion...we do have our memories and they are vivid and great of, e.g., the "revolt of the 'Young Turks'" demanding a place at the table, or a little more than a quarter-century ago, the total flip of the GA Program to create the momentum for the Rally for Soviet Jewry that would turn the tide for the Exodus; the refocus of the LA GA six years ago on our relationship with Israel. And, today...Edon, et al.

Sure, the GA remains a vital place to renew old acquaintances, to walk the bazaar of many competing fund raising organizations (I always love the corridor entourage -- organizational CEOs walking the halls with their hangers-on, eyes always searching out someone better to talk to), the networking. in all things JFNA: "where's the beef?" There was reason to expect better these past years -- after all, the Board Chair had been a one-person (but, of course) GA Study Committee and all of us expected a "new GA" to emerge from the ashes of the old -- uh, no. After dumping Houston and Orlando for so-called "more attractive venues" (New Orleans, Baltimore, Denver), registration is at an all-time low,and the AIPAC Policy Conference has become the place to be -- a place, by the way, where money is actually raised. In addition, it has become de rigeur to trot out the same old leadership as national GA Chairs going so far as to trot out the Silvermans two years running and to name the Gelmans,  wonderful philanthropic models, as the Chairs of next year's Jerusalem GA -- a leadership role for them, among so many others they have had, that they had this role once before -- are there no other leaders, who might be fresh to the roles, who could not have been found? (Rhetorical question, of course: the names Arlene Kaufman and Sandy Baklor, Jane Sherman, Lynn and Skip Schrayer, pop into the mind.) Real leaders who had served before might have declined this repetitive service.

Yes, certainly JFNA can continue to call the GA ..."the premier North American gathering of the Jewish communal world," but, thanks to the current leadership, that has become like calling TribeFest "Birthright in the American desert." Making the GA once again that "premier gathering" that it should be will be another challenge for our new leaders.


* -- Even as JFNA chooses to call "Edon" by only his first name -- as if he were Cher or Bono -- he remains Edon Pinchot, the terrific son of a terrific Chicago family.

Friday, October 19, 2012


An interesting Commentary on the Post -- THE SHADOW KNOWS:

"As a sitting Federation CEO, I have had nothing but disappointing interactions with Deborah. She is a "tried and true" HR person. I have listened to multiple PPT presentations by her about how to lead, do staff development, etc. and they are so "cookie cutter" that she seems to just change the name of the organization on each slide. There is nothing really new, different, or focused about Federation in specifics (except perhaps the one or two slides and case scenarios (that are so basic) on lay-pro relations).

I recall a conversation with her when I was interested in a possible move as a CEO of a larger community. Her message to me..."since you have been in the Federation world so long, perhaps you are interested in going to work for a for-profit for new experiences." I was flabbergasted and angry -- at that point I had been in the Federation world for 20+ years and this was the message?

The mode at the Mandel Center seems to be "let's do community searches and look for candidates OUTSIDE the Federation field." This is also a Jerry stance -- I do believe he thinks that you can just "drop" people in to Federation roles from outside and they will be successful -- I would like him to name at least two in CEO roles.

The placement job done by the Mandel Center has been erratic at best. And her "expertise from being outside the system" has not helped. If anything, I believe we have a greater dearth in having qualified candidates for new positions."

Then, another Commentator offered this:


You asked a very important question regarding Debbie Smith--Does she work full-time, part-time or drops in when needed? Debbie Smith only flies in from her home in Florida (at JFNA expense) when she thinks she should show her face to benefit herself at high level meetings, all staff meetings (what a joke because she snubs most of the staff and is phony with the rest.)I even heard she flew in especially to staff the International Lion of Judah conference (so she can shmooze!)

Just as a side note, the mentality in the Mandel Center is being enforced by Debbie Smith and everyone fears her wrath in this department. Only she can be right even when she is wrong. This is the mentality she is spreading at JFNA. I am so happy I have moved on to find a better organization to work for.

There should be an audit of what she is really costing JFNA (federation dollars)other than her reported 990 compensation. From what I hear... (edited for content)" 

So, the question arises: "Who is protecting the profession?" And, the answer is: NO ONE. And the further question: "who is managing this consultant?" And the answer again is: NO ONE.  One would expect that all of those former chairs of the community professionals organizations might have intervened in the nmame of the profession itself, but, no.

Does no one care?
  • No, not those you would think would care the most -- the most senior Federation Executives of every City-size. They built a federation system in which they take the greatest pride; they are experienced; and they are smart.  They have built something that is (or, at the very least, was) incredible. They can't be oblivious of this seminal fact -- that the system they have built is being deconstructed around them.
  • And leading the way in that deconstruction is the very organization that they created -- yes, they. They demanded a merger in the name of the federations they led and still, in most instances, lead. JFNA's actions (reread the first Comment above) bespeak an agenda -- can they seriously believe that all is well?
If JFNA's leaders are allowed to continue down the path of deconstruction on which they are traveling, trust that the federations of the near-term future will bear no resemblance to the great federations of the past and the few of today. JFNA will sure have laid the federations to rest with the most senior of federation CEOs performing the last rites.

The old joke goes something like this:

"Two kids are sitting in a high school auditorium, listening to the principal give the welcoming speech for the year. The principal says, 'The two greatest dangers that students face are ignorance and apathy.'
One of the students turns to his friend and asks, 'Dude, what's 'ignorance and apathy?''
The other student, bored and restless and wanting for the speech to end says, 'I don't know and I don't care.'"

But, here's the difference, in the current environment, this isn't ignorance, they "know"...they "know" full well. And, that's the saddest commentary of all.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012


This Replacement Refs Rube Goldberg amalgamation of lay and professional leadership is worthy of Oz or Alice in Wonderland or Orwell -- or all three. It was the immortal National Football League Coach, Super Bowl winner Bill Parcells who observed: "You are what your record says you are." So, what's the JFNA record of the last 6 years; what will the organization conjure up as "achievements:"
  • The hire of one from outside the federation system as CEO;
  • The rebranding of UJC as JFNA and the creation of a tag line (quick, what is it??) but at a cost yet to be fully disclosed;
  • Community Heroes, #ish and TribeFests 1 and 2;
  • The continuation and "reinvention" of I-LEAD, the Million Dollar Roundtable (that has now met...twice[?]), low-end giving exercises, the continuing great work of JFNA-Washington, and other extensions of programs of UJA and CJF;
  • The creation of SCN (a function created under Steve Hoffman's leadership) and the IAN (demanded of JFNA by Chicago, among others); and
  • The chaotic, confused creation of the Global Planning Table
If you've got more, friends, send them to me, we'll add them to this woeful list.

And what do we find JFNA has also done over the last six years? Try some of these:
  • Spent in excess of $200,000,000. Are you happy with the ROI for your federation let alone all federations?
  • Deconstructed the national financial resource development effort almost entirely but for National Women's Philanthropy. The Young Leadership Cabinet, which should be an elite force for change and leadership at the federation level, as it once was, is but a shadow of what it once was. The Prime Minister's Mission sending 1/2 the number we sent in 2007; the King David Society Mission, canceled. Campaign planning, Solicitor Training, Suite Solicitations, etc....what are those?
  • GA full pay registration fell to 835 by 2011; less than the drastically subsidized Registration for TribeFest 2.
  • Hired and forced out within one year the eminently qualified Joanne Moore as millions more are "invested" in (in the sense of bad money after bad) the Global Planning Table and, G-d Forbid, TribeFestivus 3, and JFNA-Israel.
And, what has Jewish federation leadership demanded of its national organization over these same six years? Absolutely nothing -- apparently we are willing to pay Dues so long as JFNA "stays out of our hair." And, there's the rub. Leaders who would never tolerate waste -- either of budget or time -- in our own communities pay no attention to the continuing waste of communal resources at 25 Broadway and, by their inattention, have encouraged more of the same.

The new Board Chair and Chair of the Executive have got their hands full -- it's tough steering a sinking ship away from the shoals and to shore. We wish them every success.

Remember, as you hear of fictional successes and the fictional embellishment of a sorry record: "You are what your record says you are."


Saturday, October 13, 2012


JFNA's leaders, with all good intentions, no doubt, made 2011-2012, at least informally, the "Year of Completing the Journey." Yes, JFNA's leaders were at the forefront among those demanding...demanding...that the aliyah of Ethiopian Jews not only be completed in 2012 but accelerated, if necessary, to do so. To that end, JFNA committed North American Jewry " raise the necessary $5.5 million for the third and final wave of aliya." This was to be "JFNA's special effort." Ahhhh me. Futility, shame, disgrace...pick your descriptive for this one.

So, what did our leaders do? Well, as always, they sent a letter to Federation leaders telling them how important this "effort" was. And, to their credit, they created some exciting Missions to Ethiopia to inspire us. Federation leaders were emotionally overwhelmed by what they saw, what they experienced on these "Completing the Journey Missions." " is a dream. A true miracle." They told us: "We have an opportunity today to complete the task of bringing the remaining Falas Mura to Israel and to fulfill the dream of thousands of individuals who want to join us in this historic endeavor."

Oh, they can write; they can emote. Meanwhile, independent of JFNA and the federations, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and the International Fellowship he heads delivered on their promises of $2.5 million -- yes, friends, Rabbi Eckstein and the IFCJ went out and raised the money to which they had committed. You will recall that back in May we wrote about what had morphed from Completing the Journey 1 to Completing the Journey 2 as if this rebranding meant that something old and unaccomplished was new again. On a series of City-size conference calls with CEO's, Silverman and his faithful assistant Paul Kane promised a so-called "fair share allocation" of the effort (even though not one JFNA governance body had ever considered such an allocation) apparently in lieu of fund raising (oh, and the "fair share allocation" would be accompanied by some kind of "fact sheet" way back in May).

Oh, "what are the results," you ask? The Jewish Agency was promised $5.5 million by JFNA's leaders...that's five-point-five million dollars. And, what has JAFI received from JFNA's "extensive" effort after 23 months...after almost two years? Well, shamefully, JAFI has received $107,000...that's ONE HUNDRED SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. In other words, JFNA has raised 2% of what it committed to and the Jewish Agency, having relied on the representations of JFNA, having done its job, having carried out its obligations on our behalf, will be left holding the bag for the other 98%.

So, now, after doing nothing but running some Missions, and running their mouths, and begging the federations for help while offering none, JFNA, without an apology, and certainly without an excuse, never having engaged in what you and I know to be f.u.n.d.r.a.i.s.i.n.g. (shhhh, at JFNA today, that's the "f" word, never to be spoken only bragged about as if they were doing any), JFNA will say: "Now, we're really going after that money." Yes, "now" we're really gonna do it. Yes, two years after the promise, we'll kick the can down the road to Michael and Dede...and, JFNA will no doubt beg New York and Chicago, Baltimore and Cleveland, Miami and anywhere else they can go to send a huge check.

Or, perhaps, Jerry will tell JAFI that he's assigned a senior professional after almost two years of doing essentially nothing to raise the $5.3 million, and, somehow, this pro will have to do so essentially by himself. I see a scapegoat coming. JFNA in action. If there isn't a big sign outside the Executive Suite at 25 Broadway announcing THE BUCK STOPS...THERE, there should be.

Speaking of buck stopping, after the publication of this Post, a significant philanthropist and federation leader wrote to me off-line reminding me that in every major fund raising effort, leadership was expected to and did step forward. In an expression of acharei, leaders led by example. In the time of JFNA itself, Charles Bronfman, Bobby Goldberg and Jim Tisch each stepped forward with their personal commitments as they asked others to join them. For "Completing the Journey," have you heard a thing about the lead gifts from those demanding that others step forward? If you have, let me know.

At JFNA there is, sadly and shamefully, not a scintilla of accountability; no arevut; never an acceptance of responsibility. These so-called "leaders" will seek to explain this all away -- after all, they have been so busy with the Global Planning Table and tag lines and searching out "leakers" and stuff. 

Yes, they were too busy to do their jobs, too busy to meet their responsibilities. There's a lot to be ashamed about at 25 Broadway over the last six years, my friends, but this is the worst...the absolute worst. 


Wednesday, October 10, 2012


The current JFNA has morphed from the Keystone Kops to Replacement Refs with no apparent appetite on the part of federation leaders to do anything but look on in astonishment and general disinterest.

Wags have described the N.F.L., the National Football League, as the No Fun League. In National Jewish life, we've got the N.F.O. -- the No Fun Organization. Have you heard any laughter emanating out of the hallowed halls at 25 Broadway -- other than perhaps the cackle coming out of CEO Jerry's office when he tears open the envelope containing his paycheck? 

No, when the NFO's lay and pro leaders are totally focused on secrecy/"confidentiality," on its Board Chair assuring that not only won't "zionism" appear in a GPT Visioning statement because but on making certain no one finds out about it; and all those cover-ups of this and other failures, where's the room for joy, for laughter?

Oh, I know, we "won" a national Jewish fraternity's award, and we may win the Tagline of the Year award from some other esteemed organization, and Our Board Chair and National Campaign Chair successively from a national Women's Charity that competes for funds with our federations -- these should be the cause of raucous laughter.

But, then there are the failures -- Tribefests 1 and 2 -- in the first, attempting to attract the unaffiliated to a Desert conclave -- even calling it "Birthright in the Desert," (now that was funny!!!) -- and, failing that, focusing Two on anyone young, stocking it with Cabinet members and the affiliated, offering everyone a subsidy, headlining Mayim Bialik and Rachel Gratch, spending $2 million or more but never accounting for the expenditures,  calling it "building momentum" -- if these are successes, then I am wrong -- there are those at JFNA who have a sense of humor.

Was it funny when the Board Chair closed this year's International Lion of Judah Conference by singing her remarks -- as she seems to do so often it has become cliche -- rather than ximply and strongly thanking these wonderful philanthropists for elevating the cause of federations? No...not so funny.

And, so it goes...JFNA...the fun, none at all.


Sunday, October 7, 2012


In 1986 my wife, Bobbi, Chicago's CEO, Steve Nasatir, and a beloved Chicago Rabbi, our friend, Willy Frankel, z'l,  traveled to the then Soviet Union, as had so many North American Jews in those dark days. We went, unaccompanied and unafraid, as so many before and after us, to tell all of those courageous and beautiful Jews of the USSR with whom we met, that they would never be forgotten and that we had joined them in their fight for freedom. It was an unforgettable journey, with story after story of darkened hallways, furtive meetings on Metro platforms, of so many who we would later meet with in Jerusalem and elsewhere, of marveling at the courage of a small number of people who were growing into a torrent. But, on this Simchat Torah 2012, I want to write about another Simchat Torah -- over a quarter-century Moscow.

We were told by everyone with whom we met that they would see us again "on the Holiday." We were told even before we left Chicago that "you won't believe what will happen on Simchat Torah." So, bundled up, we set off at sundown from our Hotel to the plaza fronting the Moscow Choral Synagogue. And, there we found the Jews of Silence in ever greater numbers...first, 1000's and then, 1,000's and 1,000's more. They gathered everywhere, and around us, slipping notes into our outstretched hands, speaking Yiddish with Willie Frankel who interpreted their pleas, dancing and singing, hugging. And we joined up with Eli Wiesel who was in the USSR with the then NJCRAC, now JCPA. Their message -- "don't forget us"....and ours back "we will never forget you." On into the night.

And, we never forgot them. None of us forgot them.

Chag sameach.


Thursday, October 4, 2012


The catalyst for this Post was a question raised in one of those Anonymous Comments.

Who is this person who extracts the second highest compensation at JFNA, yet isn't employed there? What does she do there? How does she come by the "svengali-like" influence she appears to have over CEO Jerry and others? Do you even know who she is? Well, the Shadow knows...

"____________ is a consulting partner and senior executive advisor for Human Resource Development to JFNA. She provides vision, leadership and expertise to the Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence, and consulting support to the professional and volunteer leadership of both the national organization and Federations. She coaches and advises executives and volunteer leaders, develops and leads workshops, and provides consulting advice on executive transitions, searches, and a wide range of human resource issues.

__________ has extensive corporate experience starting at Xerox Corporation, and serving as the senior human resources executive and member of the management committee for several Fortune 500 companies including Bausch & Lomb and Merck & Co. She holds a B.A. degree with Highest Distinction from the University of Rochester, and a Masters Degree from Cornell University where she completed all studies toward her Ph.D. At Cornell, _________ was chair of CAHRS, the Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies and the Chair of the President's Council of Cornell Women, and served on advisory boards for the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and The Johnson Graduate School of Business. She has also served as a member of the Board of Chase Lincoln Bank and the Talent Technology Corporation, and on the board of directors or advisory board of colleges, cultural institutions, and professional and governmental organizations. She has been a requested speaker on human resources issues and management trends, and lectured at colleges and universities."

Yes, it is an incredible and impressive resume. But, in the context of JFNA, what exactly is "a consulting partner and senior executive advisor for Human Resource Development?" She sits on the Senior Management Team...but all of the other members of Senior Management are employee/professionals. Why isn't she as well? Does she consult for others, earning compensation for those consulting roles?

She is listed on the 2011 JFNA IRS Form 990 (the most recent attachment to the JFNA website -- you know the one that listed Jerry's compensation at $609,000) as an "independent contractor" but her compensation for 2010 is listed as having been $306,000 -- more than any person on JFNA's current payroll other than CEO Jerry.  Is she employed full-time at JFNA? At a compensation level that by this year no doubt exceeds $400,000, is her independent contractor relationship at JFNA exclusive? What are the terms of her contract? WHAT HAS SHE DONE? WHAT DOES SHE DO AT AND FOR JFNA?

Some more questions: for $400,000 (+/-) does Ms. _______ work for JFNA full-time, half-time, one-third time? What are the parameters of her "consultancy?" Is she required to be at 25 Broadway on any scheduled basis? Or is she like a lay person who "drops in" when "needed?"

We remember when she was retained -- it was immediately after CEO Jerry's predecessor had forced out/constructively terminated one outstanding woman professional after another. Perhaps she offered some appropriate advice and counsel at that time? The HR Department at JFNA is and has been professionally run and directed for years...why is a "consultant" needed as "senior executive advisor for Human Resource Development?" I'm not suggesting that _______________ isn't an outstanding professional in her field; I am questioning what she does and how she does it at JFNA. Yes, she's on JFNA's Senior Management Team; but who manages her?

Could the $400,000(+/-) or $306,000 ______________ is paid be otherwise used for $400,000 or $306,000 (+/-) in programs that would benefit the federations? Example, recently, JFNA contemplated creating a full-time professional position to assist federations in annual campaign management and development. A worthy cause for sure. It had a great candidate, one who had demonstrated over a lengthy period the ability to successfully manage and run annual campaigns. At the end of the day, JFNA's professionals determined that it did not have "the budget" to fund such a position. 

No further questions are necessary. The Shadow knows...


Monday, October 1, 2012


One Anonymous Commentator wrote, in response to P.S. to a Post Script:

Richard, though you have written them before, please reiterate which programs you feel would be of benefit to the federations that are not being done now by JFNA. This would be helpful to those of us who aren't familiar and maybe could be helpful to some who can do something about it.

So, seeing as you asked:

  1. Bring together JFNA's Board, federation leaders all, and have a discussion about JFNA's purposes
  2. As a significant number of federations when surveyed had already articulated that their greatest "want" from JFNA was enhanced FRD assistance, reinvigorate the organization's FRD functions
  3. Instead of just talking about it, actually implement a robust set of national Missions led by charismatic leaders who will reach out to recruit across the Continent
  4. Actually insist on an independent evaluation of JFNA's services -- from JFNA Global Services to the GA -- and publish the results -- in some instance it will shut the mouths of critics and in others it will result in change
  5. Acknowledge that rebranding is over and dedicate that portion of JFNA's budget to FRD
  6. Stop the waste and chaos that is the Global Planning Table, an effort that is dragging JFNA down, and being to engage in real advocacy for the system' s historic partners
  7. Let's have real consulting services with and for the federations -- a Silverman fly-in doesn't count
And, these are just for starters.

What are your thoughts?

Chag Sukkot sameach.