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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Governor Phil and Tammy Murphy with the volunteers who participated in Super Sunday. (Credit: The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey)

On Sunday, January 28, the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey held their annual Super Sunday telethon event. Intended to raise funds for different charity opportunities throughout the community, the day saw over $200,000 raised. In addition to the various volunteers in attendance who were handling the calls, the day also saw appearances by government officials, including Senator Bob Menendez, Congressman Josh Gottheimer and family, and Governor Phil and Tammy Murphy.

The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey is an organization that brings together people and resources with the intent to address the important issues members of the Jewish community are currently facing. When it comes to their Super Sunday event, which, for many volunteers, is seen as the pinnacle of the organization’s efforts, the goal is to continue to help as many people as possible through monetary means.

Judy Toub Gold, a co-chair of the event, explained, “Getting involved in this organization with hard-working dedicated staff and lay people is the reason I love being involved. As a member of the Jewish community, and as someone who has been involved with Jewish causes throughout my life, it is my pleasure to give back 100 percent to the community.”

Dr. Bram Alster, the other co-chair, who enjoyed making calls himself, echoed her sentiments, saying, “I was privileged to enjoy this mitzvah of participation and giving. I first volunteered for Super Sunday with my parents Jack and Anita Alster, of blessed memory. Now I’ve been blessed and am able to do the same with my children and grandchild, and I hope that they will do the same with theirs.”

Laurie Siegel, the organizer of Super Sunday and the organization’s director of community programs and services, shared, “To me, Super Sunday is a day of community building and [this year] was a great success because it brought the community at large to work together to make a difference.”

There were various sums that donors could pledge that correlated to the impact the amount will have. For example, according to a flyer that was handed out to volunteers, an $18 donation would be able to purchase four kosher meals for a senior citizen in Elmwood Park, while $65 would allow a person struggling with developmental issues to participate in a social skills improvement program. For those able to donate more generously, $136 would allow a Holocaust survivor to have a health aid look after them for seven hours, and $1,000 would enable a 10-year-old to have a first-time overnight camping experience.

Laura Freeman, the marketing director for the organization, shared that “the point of Super Sunday is to reach out to the community and ask them for pledges.” She continued, “We have hundreds of volunteers who look forward to this day and [they] each take a shift, they take a card and they call other members of the community; they call their friends, colleagues, synagogues, and they ask them to make a pledge.” Regarding what happens to the funds, she explained how “what’s raised will be disbursed to those who need it.”

One of the highlights of the events was the attendance of the government officials. Speaking to the crowd, Governor Murphy addressed the concerns of Jews living in the modern era, specifically when it came to issues such as anti-Semitism. He discussed how “the Jewish community in Bergen County and the entire state of New Jersey is one of the most consequential Jewish communities in the United States and, arguably, the world.” Praising the efforts of the Jewish Federation and their attempts to try to combat such issues, he commented how “the relationship between New Jersey
and Israel is strong,” and that “I’m incredibly honored to be here… I salute the work you all are doing.” Governor Murphy, along with his wife, were also on-hand to make a few calls of their own to community members for donations.

Ariella Noveck, who is the organization’s Jewish community relations director, shared her praise for the efforts of the volunteers in an interview with The Jewish Link. She talked about how “you see the Federation logo everywhere and it’s more than just any old logo. There’s a lot of meaning behind it for everyone involved. It’s a source of pride.” Noveck added that she “[encourages] people to understand how far out the Federation really does reach, how they advocate for the community. We’re everywhere from young to old, always ready to help. The Federation can help.”

The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey is still accepting any and all donations. Any amount that one is able to give is more than appreciated. If you are interested in contributing, or wish to learn more about the organization, you can visit their website at www.jfnnj.org.

By Adam Samuel

 Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. When he isn’t busy reading the daily news, he divides his time between managing his blog, adamssoapbox.blog, and gradually learning how to play piano.