Thanks to a strong effort by 100 volunteer callers and the generosity of the Jewish community, Super Sunday brought in more than $200,000 for the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey.
The Nov. 15 phonathon at the South River federation offices was the first such fund-raiser since the merger last Jan. 1 of the Greater Middlesex County and Monmouth County federations.
The $200,000 total added to the $100,000 raised weeks earlier at a federation call day and brought it to within $800,000 of its goal of $3.25 million by the Dec. 31 campaign end.
“We’ve been thrilled with the response so far,” said federation chief development officer Elena Herskowitz. “People are continuing to contact us with their pledges, and we expect we will hit our goal, but we can’t do it without everyone contributing whatever they can. Every dollar counts no matter the size of the donation. It will make a difference.”
Day school students, Rutgers University students, rabbis, and community members sat side by side, seeking pledges from long-time and first-time donors. Joining them was Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Dist. 6), who said he was there to lend a hand because “the Jewish federation does so much to help those in need.”
“It supports so many social causes that help people who have needs in housing, food, and the agencies that help families and individuals here and in Israel,” said Pallone.
Richard Bullock of Edison, vice president of the Rutgers Hillel board of directors, said the federation not only provides assistance and services locally and around the world, but it supports Hillel programming, including free Shabbat meals for students, and the new Rutgers Hillel building, scheduled to open in the spring.
“It’s an ongoing legacy that will last for generations,” said Bullock.
Justin Dinowitz of Marlboro spoke of the federation’s support for JMed, run by Rutgers Jewish Xperience, which brings together medical and dental students with Jewish medical professionals for mentoring. Dinowitz is its president.
“Federation gives us a lot of help with our programming,” said Dinowitz, a pre-dental student. “We study with Jewish medical professionals, while some of our events relate to Torah. Federation has also been very helpful in finding medical professionals in the community for us to partner with.”
Leslie Ostrin of Highland Park, president of Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva in Edison, noted, “It was a privilege to be here for a community organization that is so productive and gives so much to the broader Jewish community.”
Federation campaign chair and first vice president Jeffrey Schwartz of Monmouth Junction said he found people seemed more willing to “bounce up their gifts” this year than in the past few years.
“I’m taking that as a sign the economy must be better,” he said. “The responses I’m getting are that people are feeling more generous. The whole atmosphere here seems less frenetic and more purposeful.”
Stuart Abraham of Manalapan, a past president of the Monmouth federation and longtime board member, said, “The things federation supports are critically important,” including programs benefitting children with special needs and their families, at-risk youth in Israel, and Holocaust survivors.
Young people also did their part. As he ran pledge cards, Ryan Goldwasser, 17, of Marlboro said he volunteered to “further the Jewish cause.”
“I want to make sure good things happen for the Jewish people,” he said.
For Debbie Blatt of Highland Park, who was representing Yeshivat Netivot Montessori in East Brunswick, soliciting $960 in pledges was satisfying for a special reason.
“My 15-year-old daughter received $1,000 from federation to go to Israel,” she said. “I feel like I’m giving back what’s being given to me.”