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‘Inspiring’ phonathon brings in $525,000
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‘Inspiring’ phonathon brings in $525,000

Youngsters show off some of the tzedaka boxes made by local students for Super Sunday.
Youngsters show off some of the tzedaka boxes made by local students for Super Sunday.

The local Jewish community contributed $525,000 at the last annual Super Sunday fund-raiser of what was the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County.

The Jan. 11 event at the federation’s South River offices drew 100 volunteers from the community, including contingents from day schools and organizations that receive federation funding. 

Although the Middlesex federation merged with the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County on Jan. 1, it held its own Super Sunday while its operations are still being synced with Monmouth’s. 

“We are so appreciative of the generosity of our community, both in their response to our calls and their volunteer efforts,” said Susan Antman, the Middlesex federation’s executive director (now executive vice president of the new federation). “Our community understands that the needs are great in our backyard, in Israel, and around the world, as we’ve witnessed the difficult summer in Israel and the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. Together, we take care of one another.”

She described the spirit in the room and in the community as both “amazing” and “inspiring.”

The total is down from last year’s $654,998, which was a significant increase over the previous year’s total. However, last year’s figure included a one-time $35,000 grant from the Tanzman Foundation, which matched donations up to $1,000 for those who gave for the first time or hadn’t given for two years or longer. This matching grant inspired additional donations that exceeded the match for a total of almost $100,000, according to Antman.

Rachel Ingber, director of financial resource development, said she expected total Super Sunday fund-raising to match last year’s, minus the matching grant donations, after two call-back nights to reach those who weren’t home, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday evenings, Jan. 26 and 27, after NJJN went to press.

The amount puts the former Middlesex federation on track to meet its annual campaign goal of $1.8 million, said Ingber. 

Although it was a mainly Middlesex event, Keith Krivitzky, CEO of the newly merged federation, explained, “We’re now one federation so I’m here building bridges. We are integrating our campaigns over time and will be sharing income, so it is important to strengthen our income in both counties.”

In rooms adorned with tzedaka boxes made by students at day and synagogue religious schools, callers reminded potential donors of the good federation does locally, in Israel, and around the world and young “runners” scooped up pledge cards to be tallied. 

Brandon Dyckman of East Brunswick, a 10-year-old student at Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva in Edison, said he came “to do a mitzva and to do charity so that we can help all the Jews in the world.”

Although on semester break, students and staff from Rutgers Hillel came to show their appreciation. The organization, which receives funding from most federations in New Jersey, was given a $500,000 legacy grant last month by the Middlesex federation toward its $18 million Eva and Arie Halpern Hillel House.

“Hillel benefits a lot from the money we get from federation and its partners,” said president Seth Denoff of Oakhurst. “We’re so happy to give back.”

Richard Bullock of Edison, who chaired the event with his wife, Jennifer, said he was gratified to see so much of the community participate “in a meaningful way” and described the mood as “upbeat.”

“There is a lot of positivity coming from our donors and volunteers,” said Bullock.

As his stint ended, Josh Caplan of Edison said most people he reached either kept their pledges at the same level or increased their donations. “The overall response from everyone was very positive,” he said. 

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