Sunday, April 3, is the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey’s first Community Call Day of 2016. What a great opportunity for all Jews throughout the area to make a difference in the world. Volunteers who get on the phone to invite others to make a donation have the opportunity to raise funds that help people in need; they also get to know their neighbors.
The federation invites every Jew in the “heart of NJ” to take part in Community Call Day, which is similar to Super Sunday, either by volunteering to help make calls or by answering the call when their phone rings.
Participating in call day feels good; what drives many volunteers to make calls is knowing what a difference they’re making. In the last 12 months, the money raised by Call Days and Super Sunday helped achieve all this and more:
Making the community more secure for everyone — The federation’s security initiative has touched every synagogue, school, and Jewish organization in our area. The program improves security awareness, communications, and practices as well as access to resources available to the entire community.
Training sessions with the FBI, the NJ Department of Homeland Security, prosecutors’ offices, and sheriffs’ departments in Middlesex and Monmouth counties have attracted packed houses. In addition, many area organizations have taken advantage of the federation’s offer to conduct security assessments as well as support them in applying for funding for security equipment.
Fostering community for families with babies and young children — The federation helps bring the free PJ Library program to more than 1,400 young children and their families in this area. PJ Library books and music are delivered each month to these youngsters, bringing them joyful inspiration about Jewish values and traditions.
The federation also helps PJ Library parents organize events for young families to be a part of a vibrant community. They gather in public spaces — like parks and dance studios — for crafts, camaraderie, story-time, and play, all with a fun Jewish twist.
Helping those who are vulnerable — Caring for the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of individuals and families at times of need is central to the work of the federation and many of its partners. In 2015, the federation supported more than 43,000 kosher meals-on-wheels for seniors in need, and provided support for caregivers of children with special needs, bereavement groups, mental health counseling, emergency aid, and socialization for seniors who would otherwise be alone.
Our work and the work of our partners has long included support for Holocaust survivors. The first-ever U.S. government grants will soon be awarded to agencies serving survivors. This federation was part of the effort to make Congress aware that, of the 100,000 survivors in the United States, almost a quarter are 85 or older, and one in four lives in poverty.
Supporting community programs for people of all ages and interests — The federation supports cultural experiences, from film festivals and theatrical productions to holiday celebrations. We are engaged in making this community a place where any Jew — practicing or not, affiliated or not — can find his or her own path to the resources, connections, and experiences that are meaningful to them.
The community calendar (jewishheartnj.org/calendar) is open to everyone. Don’t miss listings of Purim happenings and, in May, Yom Hashoa commemorations.
Forging connections to Israel and overseas — Dedicated to the idea that we are all part of an extended family, the federation cares for Jews wherever and whenever they are in need.
This winter, 30 people traveled to Cuba with the federation. Together we saw how our local community supports the Jewish community in Havana. As one small example, children who attend Sunday school at the Patronato synagogue receive a snack containing some protein; it may be the only protein they take in all day. The center provides much-needed health services as well.
When vulnerable Jews in Ukraine were recently trapped in their homes due to hostilities there, the federation’s international partners brought them to respite centers where they shared meals, got their medication, and received crisis support. The federation has also helped Jewish families make aliya from France as anti-Semitism surges there.
Recently, the federation concluded an interfaith clergy mission to Israel, where the goal was to increase understanding of the nuanced issues and promote constructive dialogue about Israel today (see related story).
The federation supports programs for local teens to learn to process and communicate about current events in Israel. As many participants prepare to go off to college campuses, this advocacy education helps them develop more clarity about their own positions and stronger communication skills to express them.
Need more reasons to make calls or take the call on April 3? Check out our website (jewishheartnj.org) or call us for details at 732-588-1800. Sign up to volunteer for Call Day at jewishheartnj.org/callday.