RIVER EDGE With families, students, and elected officials working side by side, more than 600 volunteers manned the phones at UJA of Northern New Jersey’s annual Super Sunday fund-raising event. And, said organizers, their hard work clearly paid off.
Phoning for pledges are, left, Rabbi Randall Mark of Cong. Shomrei Torah in Wayne and Rabbi Neil Tow of the Glen Rock Jewish Center.
"Our volunteers received pledges of $1.1 million," Jonah Halper told The Jewish Standard on Monday. The director of the Young Leadership and Community Division explained that "with callbacks during the week for people who weren’t home, or [for whom we] left messages, we hope to make it to the $1.’ million mark. We’ve had l,800 gifts, and we’ll continue to call."
"It was an excellent turnout," said Halper of the volunteers who gathered at the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey here. "Their energy was apparent in doing this mitzvah and being involved in good work for a good cause."
Frisch School seniors this year, next year in Jerusalem. Telephoning for pledges on UJA’s Super Sunday are, from left, Amy Yakobe, Deena Avner, and Jennifer Saibel. Photos by KEN HILFMAN
This year’s Super Sunday phonathan joined a host of "super" events: notably, the upcoming Super Bowl and Super Primary Tuesday.
"The federation’s Super Sunday is designed to be a community-wide fund-raising event, and it was a success on both counts. It was a tremendous opportunity for the community to get together to do some great things for the New Jersey community, and it succeeded in raising needed funds for our programs."
It’s a family affair for these Super Sunday volunteers. From left are Nachum, Kayla, Anella, and Ezra Barishansky of Teaneck.
Arlene Weiss, co-chair with Lauri Bader of Super Sunday ‘008, noted that 55 percent of the funds raised will be distributed locally, with 45 percent going to Israel and other countries.
Several local elected officials solicited pledges, including Reps. Scott Garrett (R-5) and Steven Rothman (D-9) and State Sens. Gerald Cardinale (R-39) and Bob Gordon (D-38). Rothman also delivered a pep talk to the volunteers.
"I was a trainer of volunteers many years ago, and know what it is to be here and raise money for a worthy cause," he said. "Things in America are tough for a lot of people who have trouble paying bills for gasoline, heating, and food. We’re a strong country, and we’ll get through it. Organizations like the UJA will help with Meals on Wheels, family services, and other programs. These programs help 100,000 people in our area of Bergen and Passaic counties."
Rothman also emphasized the need to assist Israel in fending off attacks from its neighbors. "Israel is strong, robust, and successful, but it [faces] the threat of death every moment of every day. It is our obligation to protect it." Rothman, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, noted that he was appointed to the 15-member subcommittee on defense spending, which reviews all U.S. military spending. "I am the first Jewish American, ever, to be appointed to this committee," he said.
George Hantgan, who was there with his wife, Honey, finished his work on the telephone and observed the volunteers. "I’m the only one here today who was present when we started all this," he said. It was his 57th Super Sunday, he noted, recalling the years before the current UJA-NNJ was created. "Today I’ve had some people on the phone who had a good year and increased their pledges," he said.
While an edible cake in the shape of a telephone, complete with phone books and connecting cords was awarded to Cindy Ferestien of Mahwah for soliciting the highest pledge of the day, Ferestien donated it back to UJA, to the delight of volunteers, who ate it at the conclusion of the event. The baker, Eye Candy-Custom Cakes, offered to bake another cake for Ferestien at some future time.