Students at Solomon Schechter Day School of Raritan Valley earned high marks as Jewish community supporters at “Terrific Thursday,” raising nearly $500 for the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County.
The annual event is inspired by — and designed to boost — the federation’s Super Sunday phonathon, which was held Nov. 21. Each grade carried out a specific project centered on an agency or service supported by the federation, with students learning about and donating money to the cause their age group focused on.
The culmination of the program took place on Thursday, Dec. 9, with the presentation of the students’ projects and of a check for $491 to federation officials — up from last year’s $395.
The array of federation activities and services were depicted on a giant hanukkia that was designed by teacher Osnat Cudkevich; now on display in the school’s lobby, the menora will eventually find a home in the federation’s South River offices.
“It was a wonderful program,” said head of school Rabbi Stuart Saposh. “I think it is really important to expose young children to these types of experiences that emphasize the central value of tzedaka to the Jewish people. Children are really never too young to begin giving and understanding that this is a Jewish response to the world.”
The federation services selected for the projects were: meals-on-wheels for county seniors, helping to send special-needs children to camp, funding Shabbat meals for Rutgers students, supporting a clinic in the federation’s Israeli partner city of Arad, assisting those making aliya to Israel, benefitting at-risk Israeli teens, and contributing to the federation’s fund supporting recovery from Israel’s deadly Carmel forest fires earlier this month.
“What was nice is that Hanukka is so often associated with getting presents, but these young children turned that around and gave to others,” said Saposh. “They reached out a hand to help the world.”
When Saposh asked the assembly for the appropriate bracha (blessing) for an act of tzedaka or hesed (kindness) at least one sixth-grader knew there was none.
“The act itself is so important, someone shouldn’t delay giving tzedaka or performing a caring act by reciting a blessing,” said Sam Bernstein of East Brunswick. “They should just go do it.”
Attending the program for the federation were controller Leslie Kornfeld, financial resource development director Rachel Ingber, and allocations director Laura Safran. Lay leaders in attendance were allocations committee cochair Diane Hoffman, Schechter liaison Arlene Schenerman, and member Arline Kane.
“The kids did a great job,” said Safran. “They showed a real understanding of the valuable work we do on behalf of the Jewish community around the world and thoughtfully tied it to Hanukka. They were justifiably proud of what they had done. In fact, they reminded us why we do what we do every day while reaffirming and reinforcing their ties to our community and the role philanthropy plays in all our lives.”