Part pep rally, part Hanukka festival, and all fund-raising, the Super Sunday phonathon for UJA MetroWest raised $1,623,258 with 2,385 gifts.
Hundreds of callers filled the phone banks at the Aidekman Family Jewish Community Campus in Whippany for the all-day phonathon, asking folks at home to renew or increase their gifts to the umbrella Jewish philanthropy.
Rooting them on were politicians from near and far, including NJ Gov. Jon Corzine and Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, who was raised in West Orange (see sidebar).
Organizers called the event “a blowout success.” Event cochair Ronald Silbermann said, “In light of what is going on in the world today, Super Sunday was a huge success all around. Kudos to all the professionals and volunteers who helped make this happen. It was also a tremendous community-building day.”
Volunteers came from every age group. Robin Amster of West Orange brought her 10-year-old son. “I came to help,” said Joe Amster. The fifth-grader at Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy is already a three-year-veteran of Super Sunday. “I do the dialing,” he said. “Mom does the speaking.”
“We feel we are doing our part,” said his mother. “These are tough times for a lot of people. This is a way everybody can help out.”
Some volunteers came with larger groups and wore “team” T-shirts, like the table full of callers representing JCC MetroWest’s Camp Deeny Riback.
Rabbis from all denominations could be spotted, including Rabbi Menashe East of the Mount Freedom Jewish Center, who brought along his young children, Ayala and Erez. New to the community, it was his first MetroWest Super Sunday. “Incredible,” he said. “Massive.”
“This effort is very important for our community and for the broader Jewish community.”
East’s children were among those who enjoyed Hanukka activities set up in the gym, including an olive press, sand art, edible dreidel-making, and an NJJN art contest.
Shana Slater, eight, of Livingston was painting her name while her older sister Veronica, 11, was busy making phone calls. “My mom doesn’t allow me to make calls yet,” she said by way of explanation. “We’ve been coming to Super Sunday forever to support federation,” said mom Lisa Slater.
There was Hanukka shopping in the atrium and plenty of community chatter, but the main event remained the phone bank area where, toward the end of the day, more than 100 teens and college students came to make calls.
Rita Waldor was presented with the Muriel Walter Volunteer of the Year Award, which she accepted with two of her grandchildren, Gabriel and Nathaniel, standing with her.
Following Super Sunday, volunteers participated in a second day of calling, known as Terrific Tuesday, on Dec. 8. Those who make annual gifts but were not reached on these two days can expect a call over the next couple of weeks.