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On Super Sunday, a celebration of giving, getting
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On Super Sunday, a celebration of giving, getting

Central federation raises $485k on day devoted to community mitzvot

When David Lazarus got a pledge for $5,000 at the Dec. 4 Super Sunday at the Wilf Jewish Community Campus in Scotch Plains from someone who was unable to give at all last year, he kept his cool. “I think it was just something she felt able to do this year,” said Lazarus, who lives in Fanwood but said it probably helped that he’s originally from Hillside, where the donor lives.

Those around him, however, were jubilant. One volunteer went running into the room where Lazarus’s wife Cindy was supervising children’s craft projects. “Did you hear what David got?” she demanded. “David just got a 5,000 up from zero!”

Moments like that lit up the army of callers reaching out to raise funds for the annual campaign of the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey, but as a number of them pointed out, every gift — no matter how small — helped boost the total.

By 8 p.m., when they called it a day, that total stood at just over $485,000.

That was down from the $524,000 for last year’s Super Sunday, but as the federation’s director of planning and allocations, Debbie Rosenwein, pointed out, the three days of Super Week phone calls over the next three evenings could bring that total up. Federation leaders are also hoping that people will respond to a post-Super Sunday mailing.

Rosenwein said the day as a whole went very well. “We had 330 volunteers, and I think they felt really good about the day and what they did to help. Super Sunday is about community building and outreach, and it’s a great chance for people to experience first hand some of what federation is all about.”

The cochairs, Meredith Levy and Sandy Sobel, both of Scotch Plains, watched the comings and goings of volunteers and families who gathered to take part in the array of activities offered, pleased by the enthusiasm they saw but — inevitably — said they wished there were more people at the event.

Sobel said weather might have been working against them. “It’s such a gorgeous day, people want to be outside,” she said. “But maybe they’ll come later.”

Levy, working the phones and — like so many of the other callers — getting a lot of answering machines, also blamed the weather, but said she hoped as people returned home, pledge numbers would go up — and they did, doubling in the last four hours or so.

A parade of local, state, and federal leaders came by to express their support, and some took to the phones for a while. They included U.S. Representatives Frank Pallone (D-Dist. 6) and Leonard Lance (R-Dist. 7); State Sen. Thomas Kean (R-Dist. 21); State Assembly members Jon Bramnick (R-Dist. 21), Updendra Chivukula (D-Dist. 17), Nancy Munoz (R-Dist. 21), Annette Quijano (D-Dist. 20), and Linda Stender (D-Dist. 22); Union County Freeholders Angel Estrada and Alexander Mirabella; and Mayors J. Christian Bollwage of Elizabeth and Colleen Mahr of Fanwood.

For the first time, as part of the growing collaboration between the Central federation and United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ, which chiefly covers Essex and Morris counties, there was a live video feed between the Scotch Plains Super Sunday and the one in MetroWest, on the Aidekman campus in Whippany.

Ninth-grader Noah Wolfe acted as anchor man for the video feed, drawing on his budding skills as a broadcast journalist to introduce the big-screen connection. He lives in West Windsor but had come to the event to support his aunt, Amy Cooper, the associate executive vice president of the Central federation.

Noah was one of a big contingent of young people who lent a hand. They took part in programs about Israel, did cooking with Israeli shliha Natalie Elgrabli, and helped out with mitzva projects like packing food boxes for the needy for Jewish Family Service of Central NJ.

According to volunteer coordinator Terry Willner-Tainow, 130 boxes were packed — a crucial donation toward feeding needy families. “Usually, the food contributed at Super Sunday is distributed in January,” she said, “but with funding cuts and the growing number of people asking for our help, we need this food now, for this month. It’s a huge help.”

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