Stepping up its use of social media and expanding its centers of activity, the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ is planning new programs and aiming for more successful outcomes for its Super Sunday fund-raising phonathon on Nov. 22.
In addition to the federation’s two locations — the Aidekman campus in Whippany and the Wilf campus in Scotch Plains — fund drives will take place at a private home in Palm Beach, Fla., and in two of its Partnership2Gether communities in Israel, Ofakim and Rishon Letzion.
In a program called Yom Aleph Aleph, residents of the two Israeli towns will host local fund-raisers in appreciation for the support the federation has given them and its other P2G communities.
“We’re proud that we’re the first Jewish federation to ever do this,” said federation executive vice president Dov Ben-Shimon. “It’s a great statement about our connections and passion.”
“We are hoping to improve on the $1.5 million we raised last year,” said Maxine Murnick of Short Hills, who is in her second year as general chair of the Greater MetroWest federation’s UJA Campaign. “This year we hope we will get to $1.75 million. Given that we are in so many locations, I think we will have some volunteers in Florida who haven’t normally participated,” she told NJ Jewish News in a Nov. 5 interview at a coffee shop in Livingston along with Jeffrey Korbman, the federation’s assistant executive vice president.
But, as happens every year, a lot more than raising money is happening on Super Sunday. “The core of the day is really reaching the community,” said Korbman. “Super Sunday will include vendors from Israel, a silent auction that will offer gifts — including sports memorabilia and vacation trips — and all kinds of family programs, yoga classes, and supervised swimming.”
In addition, said Korbman, among the activities will be “a Hanukka gift workshop for people with special needs, a live broadcast from Israel, a blood drive, and a collection of turkeys to be donated to needy families for Thanksgiving.”
“This is a bigger and different recruitment effort than we have done in the past,” said Melanie Roth Gorelick, director of the federation’s Community Relations Committee.
Also new is a website, jfedgmw.org/super-sunday, that will make it easy for attendees “to find something they’d like to do,” said Roth Gorelick. “We don’t just want people to come and do fund-raising. There are a lot of other activities we have designed to bring the community together.”
The site shows a schedule of events at the two federation headquarters. Ten different tracks are listed, ranging from social action and Israeli engagement programs to family, teen, and young leadership activities.
The fund drive connects Jewish community members with state and local elected officials. Among those who have committed to appear at the Whippany campus are Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Dist. 11), State Sen. Richard Codey (D-Dist. 27), State Assembly members Mila Jasey and John Mc-Keon (D-Dist. 27), Essex County Freeholder Pat Sebold, Livingston Mayor Michael Silverman, and Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca.
Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Dist. 7), State Sen. Thomas Kean Jr. (R-Dist. 21), Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Dist. 20), and Union County Freeholder Bruce Bergen will be at the Wilf campus in Scotch Plains.
Mayor Steve Fulop of Jersey City will deliver a talk in Whippany on “what it means to be a Jewish politician in New Jersey.”
A “virtual campaign” is also under way to “engage those who have given $1,000 or less in the past and are less likely to be major donors,” said Roth Gorelick.
Employing humor along with gentle urging to contribute, a first e-mailing in early November used a cartoon headed “Super Sunday — Make the Gift, Skip the Call,” which explained how those who pledged before Nov. 9 could avoid being solicited by phone on Nov. 22. “We sent it out and within two days we made $3,000,” said Roth Gorelick. “A second notice will say, ‘Make the gift, screen the call,’ and a third will say, ‘Make the gift. Help us make calls.’”
Another phase of recruitment will begin with “UJA Shabbats” during regular Saturday morning services at 28 synagogues on Nov. 14, featuring discussions of the federation’s work. In addition, a 30-day social media campaign started on Oct. 28, with Facebook and Instagram posts on a different topic each day. “We are reaching some 600 people a day,” said Roth Gorelick.
In the evening of Super Sunday, teens and young adults will make fund-raising phone calls — and those who are in their 20s to 40s will be treated to dessert at Chocolate Works in Livingston for their efforts.
The young volunteers “come in and they have so much enthusiasm,” said Murnick. “They get so excited every time they close a gift, even if it’s a $3 increase.
“That generates enthusiasm at the end of the day for those of us who have been there all day,” she said.
Korbman said the event organizers “are constantly looking for new ways to reach out and engage people who are in the community but we know have not made a gift. People give to people. I would hate to see our efforts increase by e-mail. Some people are uncomfortable writing in or donating on-line; the thrust of what we do is to remain personal.”
At the NJ locations, there will be three Super Sunday phonathon sessions: 9 a.m. to noon, noon to 5 p.m., and 5 to 8 p.m., when teens and college students will join the effort.