Cooperation is the buzzword for this year’s Super Sunday, the annual one-day fund-raising phonathon of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ.
When hundreds of volunteers and community members gather at the Aidekman campus in Whippany on Dec. 4, it will represent the latest step in an anticipated merger between UJC MetroWest and the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey, which covers Union County.
UJC MetroWest aims to raise some $2 million toward its annual campaign goal of $21 million, while sharing aspects of planning, marketing, and programming with Central.
The Central federation will hold its own Super Sunday — on the Wilf Jewish Community Campus in Scotch Plains, where it is headquartered — but the two events will be carefully aligned. They will each include a children’s program run by PJ Library, which promotes Jewish literacy among young families. Both will include Israel advocacy training at lunchtime. Each location will include a large screen with a video feed from the other.
The Community Relations Committee of MetroWest and Central NJ, an early product of the merger that took place last July, has a specially coordinated schedule for Super Sunday (see sidebar).
Lay and professional leaders of UJC MetroWest and the Central federation have been in merger discussions for much of the year. No date for the official merger has been announced.
“It’s exciting to be part of this year’s Super Sunday, the first Super Sunday that will be produced in collaboration with the Central federation,” said Greg Russo of Randolph, cochair of MetroWest’s Super Sunday together with Mindy Kahn of Randolph and Mark Glajchen of Livingston. “It’s rewarding for us to work together to enhance our ability to help others and build community.
“This year the cooperation between the Central and MetroWest federations is heightening that sense of energy,” said Glajchen.
Hundreds of families are expected to join between 450 and 600 volunteers at the phonathon. They will staff a phone bank, calling donors and urging them to make a gift to the annual UJA campaign. UJC MetroWest supports a range of Jewish communal activities, from nutrition and recreation programs for local needy seniors, assistance for Jewish schools and camps, and funding for a host of programs in Israel.
The biggest challenge facing this year’s overall campaign is the weak economy, according to MetroWest’s chief marketing officer, Shelley Labiner.
“For Super Sunday, it is getting enough volunteers out to make the calls, which ties into people’s discomfort with the state of the economy,” she said. “So many organizations are asking people these days to volunteer and make calls that people are being pulled in a lot of different directions and are tapped out.
“On the other hand, we are seeing a great response and enthusiasm from the community about the programming and shared activities with Central federation that we have planned for the day.”
“Super Sunday is always such a time of energy and renewal for me,” said cochair Mark Glajchen. “Being part of a spectacular community event that has as its core mission support for Jews in need around us always leaves me believing we can do anything when we all have the same goal.”
This year the phonathon will run from 9:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. The day includes a canned food drive, tzedaka can drop-off, Gift of Life bone marrow registry drive (10 a.m.-3 p.m.), and a blood drive (11 a.m.-4 p.m.). Vendors selling Hanukka gifts will be offering their wares in the campus atrium from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
A training session from 1 to 2 will teach participants how to advocate for Israel, and programs for children will include an interactive story time at 10:30, featuring PJ Library books and music.
Families can rock out to a Powerhouse deejay while wrapping donated presents — attendees are asked to bring new unwrapped gift items appropriate for any age — that will be distributed by UJC MetroWest partner agencies. Teenagers and college-age volunteers will have their own special session, from 5 to 8 p.m., to make phone calls.
Asking community members to join the corps of volunteers at Super Sunday and to give generously when asked, cochair Mindy Kahn said, “Super Sunday is a day for celebrating the strength and vibrancy of our Jewish community.”