Super Sunday and Super Week pledges to the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey have exceeded the goal of $500,000 set by the organizers by over $20,000.
Debbie Rosenwein, the federation’s director of planning and allocations, said that by the start of this week, some 1,626 donors had given a total of $526,440. And, she added, “we still have the post-Super Sunday mailing outstanding.”
Shari Bloomberg, who cochaired the major fund-raiser with Mara Levy, said, “I’m amazed at the generosity the members of our community have demonstrated, both in giving of their time on Super Sunday and Super Week, and by financially helping those in need at a time when almost everyone is feeling the negative impact of the economy.
“I’m prouder than ever to be part of our federation and the unified Jewish community it represents.”
The annual campaign, which funds the federation’s social action, education, and other programs locally and abroad, was launched with the Pacesetter event in late September. Super Sunday, held Dec. 6, reached out to donors up to the $1,000 level. “This year, significant emphasis was placed on new and lapsed donors also,” Rosenwein said. The result was a heartening 40 percent increase in the number of new gifts.
Federation president Gerry Cantor said that the increase in new gifts was what pleased him most. “Across the philanthropy world, we’re seeing people deciding to start their own foundations rather than support the established organizations. But when we get a 40 percent increase like that, it’s proof of the relevancy of federation.”
As for the overshooting the goal, Cantor said, “I’m gratified but I’m not shocked. This is a super community, and I feel blessed that I chose to come live in it.” He praised the “awesome volunteers” and the extraordinary job the federation staff — led by Rosenwein — did in organizing the calling lists for the Super Sunday and Super Week volunteers.
He took particular pleasure in seeing all the children and teenagers helping out on Super Sunday. He said, “Now, when those young people go off into the great unknown, they’ll have a better understanding of where the funds come from for the Hillel on campus, or for the programs that send them to Israel.”
Asked what she thought worked particularly well, Rosenwein e-mailed to NJ Jewish News, “The whole concept of bringing people together and working on the collective at Super Sunday is very meaningful. I liked the additional educational initiatives to help people learn more about the scope of federation, like the scavenger hunt and the Federation at a Glance display board. The family ‘Circusfest’ seemed to engage children and parents, which was very exciting to see. Many volunteers elected to be on the phones…; it was great to see all the phone lines occupied.”
She said the social action projects “really worked to connect people to the day at various levels,” including the sensory. “The wonderful aroma of doughnuts and latkes, from our shaliah Yisca Shalev’s cooking, could be smelled throughout the building, as she worked on Hanukka foods with the tweens and teens.
“There really was something for everyone.”
Rosenwein noted that awareness of the event was raised by a number of efforts that preceded it, like the supermarket drives and toy and book collections for Hanukka. They brought in about $5,000 worth of items.
As pleased as the organizers are, there will be no resting on their laurels. The Super Sunday Planning Committee will have a meeting on Feb. 2 to evaluate the results and review fund-raising goals. Co-vice chairs Ellen Zimmerman and Lisa Israel will carry those lessons forward as they take the helm for next year’s Super Sunday.
Israel wrote in an e-mail to NJJN, “I think many people are surprised to learn how much of an impact federation has on helping the needy in our community, in Israel, and around the world. Most people, once they have a better understanding of this, are moved to want to show their support and contribute.”
She added, “We all worked hard this year to make some positive changes to Super Sunday. I look forward to working with Ellen Zimmerman next year and continuing that effort. We are both passionate about supporting the work of federation, and we make a great team. I feel confident that, with the help of our incredible federation staff and hard-working volunteers, we will have another successful Super Sunday next year.”