Annual phonathon sees a ‘community in action’

Annual phonathon sees a ‘community in action’

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone mans a phone on Super Sunday. Photos by Freehold Photography and Video
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone mans a phone on Super Sunday. Photos by Freehold Photography and Video

More than 200 volunteers teamed up on Dec. 12 to raise a total of $319,406 at Super Sunday, the annual phonathon of the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County.

The volunteers worked the phone banks at the JCC of Greater Monmouth County in Deal, calling members of the community and securing their fund-raising pledges for the 2011 campaign,

“We are working very hard to create new energy this year, and to get people energized about programs like Taglit-Birthright Israel,” said federation president-elect Joseph Hollander. “Participating in the Jewish community in which we live is both our enjoyment and our responsibility.”

The totals raised on Super Sunday represent nearly 20 percent of the federation’s annual campaign, which supports Jewish educational and social services at home and projects in Israel and other Jewish communities abroad.

“At this time we feel that our 2011 campaign is off to a great start, and we will be concentrating on wrapping up our 2010 campaign in the coming weeks,” said Evan Levitt, the federation’s financial resources and development director. “The major gifts that came in at last year’s Super Sunday came in earlier — at this year’s Major Gifts event and campaign kickoff,” which was held Nov. 18. “We are proud that our Major Gifts raised over $315,000.”

Bert Goldberg, interim federation director, described the annual Super Sunday event as a “marvelous opportunity to see the community in action. It is gratifying to see that we all care about the same things and are working as a team in the same direction,” he said. The event was cochaired by Debbie Rettig of Manalapan and Cheryl Markbreiter of Wayside.

U.S. Representatives Rush Holt (D-Dist. 12) and Frank Pallone (D-Dist. 6) and Monmouth County Freeholder Amy Mallet were on hand to make calls and thank the volunteers. Holt placed a congratulatory call to Joan Rechnitz of Red Bank, who was honored with her husband, Bob, at the campaign kickoff last month.

Mallet, a member of Congregation B’nai Israel of Rumson, thanked the volunteers for “doing the work worth doing,” before joining them on a two-hour phone shift. “This is an opportunity for residents of Monmouth County to help with the effort that benefits so many people of all ages in our community, as well as in Israel and around the world. That’s what the Jewish community is all about — people helping people.”

Robert Fishman of Manalapan was the first of 205 volunteers to arrive at the call center. An auto salesman, Fishman said he applies the same techniques at Super Sunday as he does on the sales floor, but his motivation is deeper. “Federation does great things for the community,” he said, “and I feel a strong need to help in any way I can.”

Sheri Tarrab of Holmdel, the federation’s campaign vice president, said the impact the organization makes locally and abroad makes her “tearfully proud.”

A Lion of Judah member since 2006 — meaning she contributes at least $5,000 to the annual campaign — Tarrab recalled a time 17 years ago when she sought help from the state when she was unable to make ends meet for herself and her son.

“I didn’t know federation existed,” she told NJJN. “I didn’t know I had that safety net. That’s why it’s so important for me to broadcast all the wonderful ways federation helps people.”

The day included a gathering of young people headed to Israel as part of Monmouth County’s first Taglit-Birthright Israel trip. Cochairs Alan Winters of Elberon and Lauren Reich of Manalapan helped raise $60,000, which was matched by Taglit-Birthright Israel. The 40 participants, ages 22-26, will visit Israel on a free 10-day trip, led by youth tour leader Jason Moses of Howell.

Federation president Stuart Abraham said he was proud of the new generation of volunteers on hand, including students from Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Monmouth County and members of the local chapters of B’nai B’rith Youth Organization and AZA, the fraternal organization for Jewish teens.

Daniela Goldberger of Manalapan and Mia Malkin of Freehold, eighth-graders at Solomon Schechter, sat together during the phone drive. “I grew up in a Jewish day school setting that gave me so much knowledge about Judaism,” said Mia. “I just want to give back.”

Among the youngest Super Sunday volunteers was Daniel Rosenfeld, a fourth-grader at Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore in Deal, who said, “It makes me feel great to help raise tzedaka. Helping the community is something important I learn from my parents and my school.”

Daniel made calls alongside his father, Aaron Rosenfeld, executive director of JCC in Deal, who said, “It gives me so much pride to have Daniel join me in this important family tradition.”

For Marlboro resident Jill McCracken, volunteering at Super Sunday has become an annual tradition. “I work Super Sunday in the morning then go out Christmas shopping,” said McCracken, a longtime volunteer at the Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Education Center at Brookdale Community College.

“I’ve always felt it doesn’t matter that I’m Catholic and federation is a Jewish organization,” said McCracken. “Federation has provided support to the Holocaust center over the years, and we share a mutual admiration for each other. It’s a no-brainer to me to give back to the community.”

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