Federation putting the ‘fun’ in community fund-raising

Federation putting the ‘fun’ in community fund-raising

On Nov. 20, Rider University will be more than the site of a legion of volunteers making calls for the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks’ annual Super Sunday phonathon. On that day, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., the Lawrenceville campus will be a destination.

The event cochairs, Judy Bortnick of Princeton Junction and Penny Pierce of Plainsboro, “have transformed the day from one that focuses on fund-raising to a day full of varied activities, in addition to the critical role of fund-raising,” said federation executive director Andrew Frank. “They have put the ‘fun’ in fund-raising.”

The federation, in cooperation with the JCC of Princeton Mercer Bucks, has planned a wide array of events in an effort to attract all segments of the region’s Jewish community.

Among them will be a book fair featuring presentations from several authors in recognition of Jewish Book Month.

According to Frank, other “family-centric” activities will include booths sponsored by such community agencies as Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County, Greenwood House, and the area’s Board of Rabbis and Principals’ Council. Other highlights will be a Hanukka bazaar, hands-on tzedaka projects, hallah baking, a shofar-making seminar, movies, assorted contests, and, of course, plenty of kosher food.

In addition, reported JCC program director Sue Weiner, shuttle busses will be on hand to take attendees on tours of the under-construction Matthew and Staci Wilson Jewish Community Campus of PMB, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2012. The new campus, located in West Windsor — approximately 15 minutes from Rider — will house, in addition to the federation, the Betty and Milton Katz JCC, the JF&CS, and the Jewish Community Foundation of Princeton Mercer Bucks.

A new holiday

The focal point of the event, however, will be the Super Sunday phonathon, which traditionally accounts for up to 15 percent of the federation’s annual campaign. Last year’s appeal attracted an estimated 500 volunteers of all ages and raised $225,000. This year’s Super Sunday cochairs, Bortnick and Pierce, headed last year’s event as well.

“We were so honored to be asked to chair the phonathon again that we didn’t hesitate to accept,” Bortnick said. “It’s an event that seems to grow every year, and we’re excited to be part of that process.

“One of the things I like most about Super Sunday is that it provides an opportunity for teenagers and adults of all ages to work side by side to attain the same goal — to support and strengthen the Jewish community,” she said. “Everyone who participates feels as if he or she is part of the team, and that’s a satisfying feeling. There is a certain vibe that comes from knowing you’re involved in such a worthwhile venture.”

A year ago, Bortnick proudly recalled, her daughter Laura, then 16, raised $7,500 at Super Sunday. Laura’s friend, Michael Stern of Plainsboro, nearly duplicated her efforts, totaling $7,400 in donations. Bortnick’s son Andrew, 14 at the time, added $5,000 in pledges to the effort. Incidentally, all three teens are officers in the East Windsor chapter of United Synagogue Youth.

“It was wonderful to see not only my own children but young people from throughout the Jewish community take part in Super Sunday,” Bortnick said. “These are our future leaders.”

Bortnick, Pierce, and other leaders from across the Jewish community are hopeful that this year’s fund-raiser, in tandem with the other activities planned, will prove to be the most successful Super Sunday to date.

“Super Sunday has, over many years, approached the status of a new Jewish holiday,” Frank said. “From the very young to the most veteran members of the community, it is an experience that can be shared. Super Sunday brings together members of synagogues, agencies, and organizations. They all share the commitment to being a part of a larger people and a vision that their actions can make a positive difference.

“It is truly a day to celebrate the power and the joy of our Jewish community.”

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