‘A sense of belonging’

‘A sense of belonging’

Spirits were upbeat at the Wilf Jewish Community Campus in Scotch Plains, where community members — many of them veterans of former Central federation Super Sundays — took part for the first time as volunteers with “Greater MetroWest.”

Cochairs for the Scotch Plains event, Gianine Handwerker and Mindy Metz, made calls to current and potential donors in between checking on a range of family and social service activities. It was a first time at the helm for the two friends, who both moved to Westfield from Bergen County three years ago.

The cochairs said they were pleased with the community response as was volunteer caller and longtime community activist Mindy Goldberger of Westfield. “I’ve gotten about 15 ‘yeses’ and thousands in pledges,” she said.

Veteran participants suggested the turnout in Scotch Plains was lower than in recent years, but that the energy made up for it.

“I haven’t had any increases, but everyone who’s answered the phone has given as much as they did last year,” said Freida Posnock of Monroe Township, who was making calls alongside her husband, Leonard.

While the adults were busy on the phones, their children — those who weren’t serving as runners, carrying pledge cards and other materials — were kept entertained with a range of activities, from making latkes to wrapping presents.

The wrapping project, dubbed “Rock and Wrap,” was held at both venues, and — at the Wilf campus — proved one of the most popular. Jeff Schultz, youth and camp director of the YM-YWHA of Union County, played DJ as kids decorated reams of white paper and then wrapped mountains of donated toys and games. The gifts will be distributed by Jewish Family Service of Central NJ to needy families in Union County.

Amy Gallatin, a cochair of the former Central federation’s Super Sunday, was there with her daughters, Sophie and Emma Kasson, helping them tie shiny strands of ribbon. Just as she learned about serving the community from her mother, she said, “I want my children to see what my neshama is about and to experience this themselves, doing something to help others.”

It was a bumper day for JFS, a partner agency of the federation. According to volunteer Susan Klapper, who coordinated the effort, kids and adults helped pack 130 boxes of donated food for JFS’s kosher pantry. They were loaded into a van lent by the Jewish Educational Center in Elizabeth.

The phone bank and hallways were filled with members of the JEC’s Orthodox institutions, many wearing bright blue T-shirts with the slogan, “JEC supports Federation.” According to JEC chief marketing officer Adina Abramov, about 100 people — students and adults — from the community came to help.

“As a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, coming out to Super Sunday was our way of saying ‘thank you’ and showing our hakarat hatov,” or gratitude, she said.

Two classrooms filled with kids were entertained by teachers who work with Ma’ayan, a program for those with special needs run by Temple Emanu-El of Westfield in conjunction with the JCC of Central NJ. Some of the kids were doing art work, others were playing musical instruments.

Sam Mandel, six, of Edison, accompanied by his therapy dog Hagrid and helped by his mom Jen, tapped out a rhythm with music therapist Jenn Pacht-Goodman. Sam Frankel, 15, of Westfield, who became bar mitzva through the Ma’ayan program two years ago, joined in enthusiastically as his parents looked on.

His mother Claudia expressed her gratitude for the program and her son’s involvement in the day. “Being part of it,” she said, “gave him a sense of belonging in the Jewish community.”

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