On Dec. 8, the two campuses of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ will be transformed into massive phone banks, with corps of earnest callers surrounded by beehives of activity featuring everything from story-telling to “shvitz”-inducing dancing to “rock and wrap” to help the needy.
It’s Super Sunday 2014, the federation’s major annual fund-raising event and community gathering.
The event in both venues will begin at 9 a.m. At the Wilf Jewish Community Campus in Scotch Plains, it will run until 3 p.m.; at the Aidekman Jewish Community Campus in Whippany, activities will continue till 8 p.m.
There are a few firsts for this year’s Super Sunday. Activities for families with children who have special needs will be offered at the Scotch Plains campus from 1 to 3 p.m., while both campuses will help visitors make a “mind-body connection” with Israel through yoga sessions taught by a member of federation’s “living bridge” program.
Young people from the entire federation region will converge on the Whippany campus for “teen hour” — a joint teens’ and college students’ call session. (A bus will be provided to bring participants from the Wilf campus to Whippany.)
Simultaneous activities at both campuses will include a food drive for the needy as well as a collection of new coats, gloves, socks, and hats for local agencies and residents of Union Beach, the Jersey shore community hit hard by Hurricane Sandy that the GMW federation has been assisting since the devastating superstorm. The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Registry will hold its drive 9 a.m.-2 p.m. in Scotch Plains, and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. in Whippany. Both campuses will hold blood drives, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. in Scotch Plains, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. in Whippany.
For youngsters accompanying their parents to Super Sunday, the PJ Library will offer story time (10 a.m.-noon in Scotch Plains with PJ author Jacqueline Jules, 10:30-11:30 a.m. in Whippany); other family activities will include “shvitz dance” (think horas and other aerobic workouts designed to work up a sweat), 10:30-11:30 a.m. in Whippany only.
Slightly older kids can enjoy “rock and wrap” — rock out with a DJ while wrapping gifts for the less fortunate (noon-2 p.m. in Scotch Plains, 2-4 p.m. in Whippany). The gifts will be donated to federation partner agencies and to families in Union Beach still recovering from Sandy. Participants are asked to bring new, unwrapped toys or gifts appropriate for any age.
This year’s Super Sunday cochairs are two husband-and-wife teams, Bethany Nadel and Ken Rotter of Westfield (Wilf) and Jessica and Aaron Wolff of Denville (Aidekman); Michele Patrone is vice chair.
Their financial goal is to surpass the $2.3 million raised at last year’s Super Sunday; the other aim, said Aaron Wolff, is to “engage the entire community during this one enormous day of volunteerism and philanthropy.”
“We would like to see the phone room completely full during each call session, great participation at the various family activities throughout the day, and an outpouring of more than 130 teens and college students at the evening call session.”
Rotter said the biggest challenge is drawing community members to the campuses. “It’s all about getting people there and being part of it,” he said, “and making sure there’s a critical mass and everyone stops by to give whatever amount of time they can, whether many hours, or just 30 minutes. Whatever they can do will help.”
For Rotter, Super Sunday may be long, but he knows his energy will not flag. “It’s easy when you know what you’re working toward and that the dollars are so important to feed the hungry and people in need both in our community and in Israel.
“The best feeling comes when you speak to people on the other end of the phone who feel the same way about the day in terms of tzedaka. It’s a long day, but one that is very fulfilling.”