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In good times and bad

The news spread, sadly but fittingly, like wildfire. When word came of the devastating forest fire in Israel’s North, the first thing people asked was, Was anyone hurt? The next thing they asked was, How do I help?

That’s the Jewish impulse — not just to mourn, but to act. Within hours after first hearing the news, planners in Israel were determining who needed help, what kind, and where. A web of institutions — Israel’s National Emergency Authority, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee — were assessing the human toll and the environmental devastation. They knew Jews abroad were eager to help, but they also knew that money spent ill-advisedly is no help at all. Experts on the ground put together an effective response, meeting both immediate and longer-term needs: assisting evacuees, providing trauma relief, and even working with Israeli youth movements to open day camps for evacuated children and students.

Finally, working through the Jewish Federations of North America, this web of caregivers was able to reach into Jewish communities from New Jersey to New Mexico, where the local federations responded with emergency relief campaigns that would transform concern into action.

That is the power of the Jewish federation movement: a weave of fund-raisers and experts with the experience and expertise to act quickly and effectively in times of crisis, and in times of celebration. Ready for emergencies, they also engage in the long-term planning and support that bolsters institutions committed to education, to meeting the needs of the disadvantaged and the elderly, and to ensuring an engaged Jewish future.

This Sunday, supporters of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ will gather for the annual Super Sunday phonathon. Volunteers will remind members of the community that it is time to renew their annual commitment to sustaining Jewish life. Leaders of the federation know that theirs is not the only address for Jewish giving and have coordinated their efforts with other organizations assisting Israel. But they are also proud of their track record in mobilizing support across their communities and working with their partners here and overseas in assuring that donors’ funds are used as effectively and efficiently as possible.

This Super Sunday, answer the call. Join the weave of people who know how to transform Jewish concern into acts of righteousness and loving-kindness.

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