On July 24, with 22 days remaining until the deadline of Aug. 15, Jewish Federation of Monmouth County announced that its 100 Days of ImpACT Campaign — featuring a different verb to spur action each week — was more than three-quarters of the way toward reaching its goal of $1 million.
Now in week 12, the effort has attracted 1,152 donors and brought in pledges totaling $764,734, an average of almost $664 per participant.
Noting that the effort has a different look and approach from past federation fund-raising drives, committee chair Joe Hollander said, “The numbers are going in the right direction, and in other ways as well, the campaign is doing what we wanted it to do.”
“There are many ways to measure success,” he told NJJN in a phone interview. “In order to strengthen our connection with the Monmouth County Jewish community, we’re making our appeal through a series of weekly e-blasts and web pages featuring personal stories about how federation grants and activities impact lives and deepen Jewish identification.”
All the stories and campaign facts and figures are accessible at jewishmonmouth.org/100days. The current installment is called “Sparking” and includes remarks by federation board member Judy Premselaar telling the true story of Lily, a five-year-old girl who reminds her family each week to light the Shabbat candles.
Lily’s excitement, says the installment, is a direct result of books she has been receiving on a monthly basis from the PJ Library since she was six months old. The program, sponsored by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and supported by federation funding, is a free service for families with young children.
“We have nearly 800 children currently enrolled in PJ Library in Monmouth County, and we are hoping to double that number within the next year or two,” said Miriam Tennenbaum, federation’s director of community impact.
“Teaching children about their religious and cultural heritage is important at a young age,” she added. “It helps them build their identity and be proud of who they are. Reading books together is a beautiful way to get kids involved in learning and to make them feel good about it.”
Like “Sparking,” each week’s entry was titled with an action word. The first weeks were “Honoring,” “Empowering,” and “Partnering.” Also on the list were “Advocating,” “Committing,” “Leading,” “Inspiring,” and “Engaging.”
Week 10, “Investing,” told the story of a teen named Ella, a graduate of Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Monmouth in Marlboro. Recognizing that graduating as an eighth-grader from the school was akin to “leaving your family and going into the unknown,” she thought it would be nice if every Schechter alumnus had a “buddy” at the high school where he or she would be going.
“It would provide kids with someone to talk to who understands what it’s like to transition out of a small, close-knit, supportive environment, where everyone feels like part of a family,” she said.
Today, Ella is preparing to enter her senior year in an accelerated, specialized Humanities Scholars program. She credits SSDS’s teachers and environment with helping her get into the highly selective and prestigious program.
“Investing in Jewish day schools is tantamount to investing in future generations of mensches,” said Bob Gutman, federation’s vice president of community impact. “A strong Jewish future will require new generations of well-informed, community-minded, proactive leaders. Ella is only a few years out of Solomon Schechter, and already she is a living example of the kind of ‘dividends’ that investing in day schools produces for the Jewish community.”
Gutman explained that federation provides support to Solomon Schechter and other Jewish schools in Monmouth County.
Citing the Schechter alumni network, Linda Glickstein, a member of the SSDS administration, said, “Ella knows the value of having a buddy on your side. Similarly, Jewish federation and Solomon Schechter know the value of being there for each other, and it is making a world of difference for the entire Jewish community of today and tomorrow.”
Federation plans to celebrate the culmination of 100 Days of ImpACT on Aug. 15 with a Pacesetter’s event for anyone who contributed a minimum of $180 to the campaign. The full roll of contributors is scrolling on jewishmonmouth.org/100days.