Please indulge me for a moment and imagine you are a shareholder of Apple Computer and attending a shareholders’ meeting. Steven Jobs, Apple’s CEO, steps to the podium to announce that he is merging Apple with the shell company that used to manufacture the Commodore 64 Computer. The Commodore Company, in this example, is just the husk of a bankrupt company that ceased production in 1997. So the first question that is asked, is: “Where will the company be located? Then, “Will Apple absorb Commodore’s debt?”, and then of course, “Who will run this combined enterprise?” And the CEO of the company, answers every question with: “We are not really sure about what we are going to do, we are just going to wing it, that’s why this merger makes so much sense.”
Now, the person next to you in the meeting, turns to you and says, “I am sure you have a lot of anxiety about this because you have an investment in Apple, but what is important is that they are both computers, so, dude, Cowabunga and get on board!” I am guessing that you might question the mental health of the person next to you, their ability to think logically, and then assume they are a Greater Fool. The Greater Fool is a momentum junky, someone who thinks that the merger will work, that there will always be someone to sell their investment to. The problem with the Greater Fool Theory is that eventually, time runs out, and there is no one left to pick up the pieces, no one who is actually that foolish. Eventually, you run out of fools.
I imagine, as it applies to Pardes and Jess Schwartz Academy, there is now a shortage of fools. There are no longer major donors willing to step up, donate millions more to JSA, or buy into Mitch Ginsberg’s top down vision of Totalitarian Torah Teaching. By the way, Pardes’ FAQ identified board members who will be on the board of the merged school. Mitchell Ginsberg’s name was not identified as a board member of the new school, so why is he involved in making decisions about how the school is to be run in the future? Is it possible that Pardes has not been forthcoming about Mr. Ginsberg’s role in the future to ease anxiety due to his proven record of school destruction? Take a look at today’s Jewish News. The way I understand what has been written, is that Mitch Ginsberg is very involved in what will be happening in the future and how the two campuses are to be operated.
I am thrilled that the Jewish News reported that the Pardes Board Chair, Ms. Lieberman and the JSA Chair, Mr. Ginsberg would not tell the Jewish News the amounts of their outstanding mortgages. After all, we are not equipped as parents to comprehend the extremely secretive world of mortgages and debt, and we should thank them both for protecting us from this dangerous information. This very big secret about the amount of their mortgages can be found by visiting the Maricopa County Recorder’s office online and pulling copies of the mortgages. Click here for the Pardes Mortgage, click here for the JSA Mortgage. The mortgages are 4.8 million dollars and 1.608 million dollars, which equals about $6.4 million dollars. To board chairs Ms. Lieberman and Mr. Ginsberg: I salute you both for protecting us, keeping us from evil mortgage facts, helping us stay in the dark. We are your loyal mushrooms.
I know that I have never destroyed a school or blown through 3.5 million dollars of donated money and turned it into dust in a two year period, but if I may just offer a suggestion without overstepping: If it is really so important to merge schools, sell the JSA Campus, which apparently has an assessed value of $3.6 million dollars, and take the $2,000,000 balance and pay down the mortgage on Pardes’ current campus. Then, Pardes would not have to be a deadbeat and shaft their lender, and when Pardes could prove that they needed more space, they would be able to get financing to build a bigger school. Imagine the headlines: “Newly Merged Jewish Day School Acts with Integrity.”
In 2002, the Jewish Federation of Phoenix published a study entitled The 2002 Greater Phoenix Jewish Community Study. This study breaks down the community of Jews in Phoenix and asserts 44% of all Jewish Respondents identify as Reform Jews, 24% as Conservative, and 3% as Orthodox. So how is it that Pardes boasts a population that is so far out of line with the demographic report of 2002. I never got a survey from Pardes asking me about whether I am a Reform Jew, an Orthodox Jew or a Conservative Jew. I am a self described Reform Jew who puts on Tefillin in the morning and then grabs an Egg McMuffin on the way to Pardes to drop off my son. So if you want to tell everyone I am Orthodox because I put on Tefillin, knock yourself out, but I am guessing I fall short in piety and Orthodoxy. So, I think that Pardes, with lust in their hearts for that shiny new campus, has given us statistics that are shaped to make their decision to rush into the arms of Mr. Ginsberg seem like a good idea. What is truthiness if not a fabrication repeated endlessly until it sounds like and even becomes truth? Not to worry, with the money coming in from the grants from PEJE and RAVSAK, the school will be fine.
I think it was telling how the Jewish News inserted the quotations from the Executive Director of the Jewish Genetic Diseases Center Halle Farber, who is sending her daughter to Pardes and was quoted as saying:
“There’s an anxiety in waiting, that no one knows what the school is going to look like,” said Farber. “But I’m prepared to be patient because I have a lot of faith in the leadership and I also know it’s going to be a bumpy road. I don’t expect all the answers to come (by) September. I think it could take a year or more until we’ve figured out what the final picture is going to look like.
“At the end of the day, it’s about education. It’s not about if the kids are wearing kippot, if the kids are wearing uniforms or which campus they’re going to be on. … I don’t care about the trappings that come with it. I think it’s very foolish to get hung up on those kinds of details. People need to look at the big picture.”
I applaud Ms. Farber for speaking her mind. Huge on the “warm fuzzy”, short on the details, good about encouraging everyone to wing it and wait for a few years to see if it worked. By the way, if it is about the big picture, and not as Ms. Farber asserts, about those pesky little details like adding $1.6 million more dollars of mortgage debt to a financially struggling school, straddling two campuses and two mortgages, embracing the managerial wrecking crew that destroyed King David and JSA, and the magic of Pluralism, then what is it about? Maybe it is that same thrill a person of would get by taking their life savings and placing it on 27 red.