RIVER EDGE The over 700 volunteers who manned the telephones at this week’s Super Sunday fund-raising event, sponsored by the UJA of Northern New Jersey and held at the Yeshiva of North Jersey, not only raised significant dollars but also heard affirmations of support for Israel from Rep. Steven Rothman of the 9th district and New Jersey’s newly appointed U.S. senator, Robert Menendez.
According to Ken Saibel, associate vice-president of the Super Sunday campaign, volunteers raised $1.’ million in pledges. "But," he added, "we expect to make our goal of $1.5 million within the coming weeks."
In addressing the volunteers, Rothman said, "I’m so proud of the work of the leaders, staff, and those here today for what the federation is doing. This is a year-long obligation to take care of those in need. This is what our Jewish forebears have taught us for all people, regardless of race, creed, or color."
Rothman added that "at this time, when Israel faces Hamas and Iran, enemies who have stated [that] their goal is to destroy the State of Israel .we must be diligent and support Israel, and its security, in every possible way. I will use my position on the House of Representatives Appropriations Sub-Committee, which deals with foreign aid, to assure that no enemy of Israel, or America, ever receives one penny of the federal tax-payer dollar."
Menendez praised the "sense of community of the Jewish people," who, he said, come together to help others in need. This past summer, Menendez led a 15-member delegation to Israel.
"I saw some of the work of this federation abroad," he said, "and I see it here, at home. It’s the ultimate personification of [doing a] mitzvah."
At Sunday’s event, first-time volunteers worked hand in hand with old-timers those who have participated in Super Sunday for over ‘0 years assisting with the paperwork and manning the telephones. Perhaps the youngest was Hannah Golden, age 10, while UJA supporter Jack Reisner was among the most seasoned "veterans."
According to longtime UJA volunteer Jan Seligmann Weiss, who served as troubleshooter and trainer for the event, a new practice was instituted this year.
"We asked our volunteers to write a word, or phrase, on their nametags which would indicate the reason they were participating on Super Sunday," said Weiss. "It’s a way of pulling us all together as a Jewish community. My word is ‘Israel.’"
Other words selected by volunteers included "Am Yisroel Chai," "Continuity," "Community," "Tikkun Olam," "Support the Elderly," and "Alleviate Hunger."
Rabbi Joshua Finkelstein, religious leader of Temple Emanuel of North Jersey in Franklin Lakes, said, "I don’t have [anything] written, but if I did, it would be "Meaningful Judaism."
Among other highlights, Robert Lunzer introduced his daughter, Rena, 14, a student at the Torah Academy in Monsey, N.Y., who was selected to participate in a 14-member group headed to New Orleans to help fellow Jews clean up a synagogue and homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina. A call to action was given later in the day by Dennis McNerney, Bergen County Executive, who told the volunteers to "keep those phones ringing."