In tough times, this community has shown it is willing to respond,” Stuart Himmelfarb told The Jewish Standard after UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey’s Super Sunday 2 phonathon.
According to the UJA-NNJ spokesman, “As of Monday, $195,000 in 430 donations was pledged” during the March 29 event. Combined with the monies raised through December’s Super Sunday, the group raised a total of $1.3 million from 2,800 donors, he said.
In two sessions at UJA headquarters, Super Sunday 2 volunteers offered those who had not yet made their annual gifts the option of donating to the annual campaign or to the Economic Crisis Fund, set up within the campaign to assist local families who need immediate help.
“There is an urgency in the situation,” said Howard Charish, executive vice president of UJA-NNJ. “More people are coming to us for food, and some even for shelter.”
|Howard Charish, executive vice president of UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey, is flanked by, left, Rabbi Yehoshua Bernstein of Boys Town Jerusalem, and Rabbi Ronald L. Gray, executive vice president of Boys Town Jerusalem Foundation of America, at Super Sunday 2. KEN HILFMAN|
“This Passover, symbolism isn’t enough,” he added. “When we open our doors during the seder, we must also open our hearts and wallets. Our telephone volunteers are asking those who are unable to make a monetary pledge of assistance, ‘How can we help you?’ We refer them to our agencies for assistance, and they are taking the telephone numbers. We do not leave them alone.”
According to volunteers, it was not easy to solicit pledges during this economic crisis.
Gertrude Hecht of New Milford, who has been a volunteer for more than 10 years, said that when a man answers the telephone and the voice on the other end is soliciting a pledge, he gives the telephone to his wife. She then explains that they cannot make a pledge because of their economic situation.
“It’s frustrating,” said Hecht, “but that’s life.”
Dr. Zvi Marans, UJA-NNJ campaign chairman, said he is pleased when the organization is able to lend a helping hand. “We’re excited about the energy of our volunteers in talking to those who need the help,” he said. “It motivates us in these serious times. We try to give them hope.”
Jonathan Rochlin, co-chair of Super Sunday 2, noted the addition of 600 new donors during the event.
“It’s a little short, but we had an ambitious goal. Given what’s going on in these times, it’s fine.”
|Gertrude Hecht has been a Super Sunday volunteer for many years. KEN HILFMAN|
Rochlin’s co-chair, Joan Krieger, said, “These are dire times, and our people will respond to the needs.”
Young and old manned the telephones, Himmelfarb said. “There was a group of Hillel students from four colleges, and George Hantgan, as usual. He celebrated his 93rd birthday with us, and his 58th time as a telephone volunteer.”
Volunteer Dan Silna, past president of UJA-NNJ, said, “We’ll have to take a hard look at our beneficiary agencies and try to increase our assistance to those most in need. I’ve been telling people on the phone, “If you’ve given once, you can give again. Every dollar helps.”
“Super Sunday 2 was a spectacular day,” said Elliot Halperin, campaign director. “Like many of the major Jewish federations, we are expecting a decline in our campaign. Our leadership is working hard to review our plans so that we can have a strong end to this year’s efforts. We know this community will rise to meet this challenge as it has in the past.”
Donations can still be made by calling (201) 820-3900 or visiting the Website www.ujannj.