Community is cause, unity the message

Community is cause, unity the message

For annual fund-raiser, Sandy and Gaza clash demand extra urgency

UJA Campaign chair Leslie Dannin Rosenthal said Super Sunday “has become a day for our communities to give generously of their treasure and time.”
UJA Campaign chair Leslie Dannin Rosenthal said Super Sunday “has become a day for our communities to give generously of their treasure and time.”

Aiming to put the “unity” in community, the Jewish Federation of Greater Metro­West NJ has high hopes for its annual Super Sunday phonathon on Dec. 2.

The fund-raiser, the federation’s single largest of the year, is the first since the merger that created GMW. Organizers are confident that donors, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy and Israel’s conflict with Hamas, will be more motivated than ever to support an organization that funds social services at home and in Israel.

From 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., volunteers ranging from day school students to senior citizens will be phoning members of the Jewish community from two locations, the Wilf Jewish Community Campus in Scotch Plains and the Alex Aidekman Family Jewish Community Campus in Whippany.

“We are doing Super Sunday in two locations, but we are one community,” said Leslie Dannin Rosenthal of South Orange, the federation’s UJA Campaign chair.

“Super Sunday is a day to raise as much money as possible for our annual campaign, but it has become more than that. It has become a day for our communities to come together and give generously of their treasure and their time,” she added.

Elected federal, state, and local officials will also join in the fund-raising effort. Among them are House members Scott Garrett (R-Dist. 5), Rush Holt (D-Dist. 12), and Rodney Frelinghuysen, (R-Dist. 11).

Joining them will be at least five state senators, 10 Assembly members, four county freeholders, four mayors, and two county sheriffs.

Rosenthal is optimistic that knowledge of Sandy’s devastating effects will unleash donors’ generosity, even as some of them still deal with the impact of its floods and high winds.

“Our community has already responded to the needs caused by Hurricane Sandy, and we hope to see increased gifts. It is our infrastructure that allows us to respond to these needs and to the crisis in Israel,” she said. “That is why we need a strong annual campaign, so that the dollars are there when we need them.

“I never make predictions, but I expect a strong showing of support from our entire Jewish community. In every campaign we aim to raise more money than we did last year.”

Gianine Handwerker and Mindi Metz, both of Westfield, will be cochairing the event on the Wilf campus, where the former Jewish Federation of Central NJ was located.

“This year is such an important year,” Handwerker said. “Not only is this the first Super Sunday as one larger, stronger federation of Greater MetroWest, but we are also faced with a crisis in Israel as well as a rebuilding here at home after the devastation that Sandy caused.”

The Central federation merged with the United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ earlier this year.

“This will be one of the most significant Super Sundays in recent memory,” predicted Gregg Russo of Randolph, a cochair of the event on the Whippany campus. “Given what has happened locally with Hurricane Sandy and in Israel we are even more aware of the importance of community,” he told NJJN.

Alia Ramer of Maplewood, Russo’s cochair in Whippany, considers herself one of Super Sunday’s “head cheerleaders.” The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, she told NJJN, “will give us a chance to reach out to people — not only to ask them to help others but to see if they also need help.”

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