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UJA-NNJ taking to the phones for annual Super Sunday fund-raiser

Josh LipowskyLocal
Published: 10 December 2010

Meteorologists are calling for a rainy, dreary Sunday, but UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey is banking on bright and generous moods as it turns to the phones for its annual Super Sunday fund-raiser.

The federation’s biggest fund-raiser, last year it brought in more than $1 million for the annual campaign, which supports 60 local agencies such as Jewish Family Service and area day schools, as well as programs in Israel. This year organizers hope to again pull in more than $1 million, said co-chair Howard Chernin of Woodcliff Lake.

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Super Sunday is all about making a difference, says Howard Chernin, Super Sunday co-chair.

“This annual campaign helps us support so many great causes and agencies,” he said. “It’s extremely important that we’re successful at doing what we need to do.”

More than 300 volunteers are expected at UJA-NNJ’s Paramus headquarters on Sunday to make calls. People need to be passionate during tough times, Chernin said.

“It’s all about making a difference,” he said. “It’s the execution that matters. You just can’t execute [successfully] with one person; you need a community. We need everyone to help us.”

Jonathan Rochlin is Chernin’s co-chair, while long-time Jewish communal leader George Hantgan is Super Sunday’s honorary chair and David Smith is the community campaign chair.

Who: UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey

What: Super Sunday

When: Sunday, Dec. 12, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: 50 Eisenhower Drive, Paramus

For more information or to volunteer: Call (201) 820-3950

Chernin hopes to draw at least 400 volunteers on Sunday to increase the number of calls being made.

“The more calls you make, the more gifts you get,” he said. “The more gifts you get, the more dollars it translates into.”

The economy is better than it has been in recent years but many are still struggling and out of work. Not everyone who donated in the past is able to this year, though. If someone says he or she cannot donate because of financial troubles, volunteers have been directed to point that person to one of UJA-NNJ’s agencies for help.

“Super Sunday is the time when we reach out and speak to hundreds of people not only to ask for their support but also to find out if they need help,” said Howard Charish, UJA-NNJ’s executive vice president. “Each year, through crisis lines manned by our Jewish Family Service agencies, we uncover individuals in dire circumstances and immediately deploy assistance. Super Sunday is doing acts of loving kindness on a grand scale.”

The day will also include a blood drive from noon to 4 p.m. and a drive to collect toiletries, kosher food, and cleaning supplies for Jewish Family Service clients.

Volunteers can expect incentives throughout the day, said Allison Halpern, UJA-NNJ’s campaign strategic planning director, who is coordinating the volunteer effort.

Petak’s is donating food throughout the day for volunteers, and as an added incentive, the agency that sends the most number of volunteers will receive a dinner catered by Foremost Catering. Other prizes have been donated for callers who pull in the most donations.

“We’re really blessed that groups from different congregations and schools and agencies do participate and we just want to bring that to the next level and give incentives,” Halpern said.

New this year is a Youtube training video in which Chernin gives volunteers a crash course in calling, from opening to closing.

“We go through a whole training method in four minutes,” Chernin said. “We tried to make it nice and easy and bring it up to date.”

While some volunteers have been calling for years — Hantgan has been calling for 60 — UJA-NNJ is also expecting many first-time callers, particularly young volunteers from Bergen County High School for Jewish Studies, Hillel, and the day schools.

“We have our littlest volunteers, whose parents are our volunteers and lay leaders, to people in their 80s,” Halpern said. “It runs the gamut.”

To watch UJA-NNJ’s Super Sunday training video, visit www.ujannj.org/supersunday.

 
 

UJA-NNJ’s Super Sunday raises funds for charities

The phone room was buzzing with exuberance as a 300-plus army of volunteers punched their telephone keypads and sounded the call for donations in UJA Federation of North Jersey’s annual Super Sunday fund-raiser.

“It was a fantastic day, with a lot of energy,” said Howard Chernin, event co-chair. “We accomplished a lot of good things for the Jewish community.”

The amount raised was still being tallied on Wednesday, but it was expected to exceed the $1 million goal, said Howard Charish, federation executive vice president.

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Shalyn Gallatin of Wyckoff calls the old fashioned way, while Dan Shlufman of Tenafly texts an appeal. Photos by Charles Zusman

Participation spanned the generations. George Hantgan, 94, took part in his 60th Sunday fund-raiser and was honored with a plaque for his years of service. (See related story.

Taking part as a family and at the other end of the age spectrum, were the Goodman sisters of Paramus, Rivke and Miri, 10, Laili, 7, and Sari 4. The girls gave contributions themselves, saved from their allowances, then served as assistants on the phone floor, collecting pledge cards from the callers. They were accompanied by their father, David Goodman.

“We like to treat other people the way we like to be treated,” explained Miri.

What do you call what you’re doing, the girls were asked. Rivke thought a minute: “A mitzvah,” she said.

A group from the Bergen County High School of Jewish studies was part of the youth contingent. “I believe it’s important for the Jewish community of New Jersey, and it’s a good cause,” said Zach Lang, 16. Israel Scouts from Fair Lawn and Tenafly also manned the phones.

A contingent from Hillel at William Paterson University was there: Adam Kleinman, Meliss Brown, Allison Warburg, Solomon Pinskur, and Marissa Zubalsky.

New this year was collecting for a special fund for assistance to victims of the recent devastating forest fire in Israel. Contributions to that fund were expected to be in the “tens of thousands,” said Charish, as pledges still were coming in by mail.

Three settlements are in line for long-term aid — Yemin Orde, Ein Hod, and Kibbutz Beit Oren — said Stuart Levy, community shaliach at the UJA-NNJ

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The Goodman sisters of Paramus brought donations saved from their allowances. From left they are Rivke and Miri, 10, Laili, 7, and Sari, 4.

Sharyn Gallatin of Wyckoff recalled working the phones last year and said that “people seem more willing to give this year. It’s very gratifying.” One woman tripled her gift, Gallatin said.

Sitting next to her, Dan Shlufman of Tenafly gave a nod to technology and pressed his Blackberry into service. He texted an appeal to someone and got a hefty pledge back in return.

He said while rejections get him down, a positive response gives him a second wind and he keeps on calling.

The fund-raiser was a two-way affair. In his instructions to the callers, co-chair Chernin said if those called said they couldn’t give because of their own problems, the callers should ask if perhaps those on the other end of the line needed help themselves. Representatives of Jewish Family Services were on hand for referrals.

Money was not the only way to give, and Perry Bindelglass of Franklin Lakes donated blood to North Jersey Community Blood Services in their van parked in the UJA-NNJ parking lot.

“I try to give as often as I can, and there is no better time than the present,” said Bindelglass, who was also volunteering his time on the phones.

While party politics may be the norm in Washington, the tone in Paramus was bipartisan, with politicians from both major parties taking a turn at the phones.

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, a Republican, gave a brief address and then was eager to get down to business. “Thanks for inviting me and give me a phone,” she said.

In remarks to this reporter, she said that the poor state of the economy makes it ever more important for organizations like UJA-NNJ to continue charitable work, “filling the gap that government can no longer fill.”

State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Dist. 37) sounded the same theme, saying cuts in government budgets and social services make charitable work vital. She cited new statistics reporting a rise in child poverty in Bergen County from 5.5 percent to 7 percent.

“If we don’t have organizations like the UJA, it’s going to be much worse,” she said.

Weinberg was joined by Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Dist. 37). Charity is the “ultimate gift,” he said. “The Bible, the Koran, and the Torah all talk about helping those less fortunate,” he added.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to ask people to give to a greater cause,” said Freeholder-Elect John Felice, a River Edge resident. “We’re all brothers and sisters. We have much more in common than we have differences.”

Other political leaders attending included new County Executive Kathleen Donovan, State Sen. Robert Gordon (D-Dist. 38), Hawthorne Mayor Richard Goldberg, Closter Mayor Sophie Heymann, and Bergen County Freeholder John Driscoll. State Sen. Nicholas Sacco (D-Dist. 32) was represented by Linda Quentzel.

Charities served by the federation break down to 62 percent for domestic recipients and 38 percent for Israel and other overseas recipients, according to UJA-NNJ. Domestically, the beneficiaries include those made needy by the economic downturn, senior services, Jewish education, and Jewish life on campus. Overseas, the money goes to aiding vulnerable Jewish populations around the world, residents of the former Soviet Union, the absorption of refugees in Israel, and Nahariya, the UJA-NNJ’s partner city in Israel.

 
 

A donation in time

When dialing for dollars is a mitzvah

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Last year, George Hantgan marked 60 years of Super Sunday volunteering. With him from left are his daughter, Roberta Hantgan, his wife, Hon, and his grand-niece, Elizabeth Levi.

“Give us a couple of hours,” says Howard Chernin, “and make a world of difference.”

Chernin chairs the Super Sunday telethon, the largest one-day fund raising event for the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.

Each year, Super Sunday raises around $1 million from 2,000 donors.

That is a lot of phone calls.

This Sunday, volunteers will be manning the phone lines — a hundred of them — once again.

And Chernin wants you to join the volunteers.

In particular, he is looking for people to help fill out the three-hour shifts that begin at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. He will be happy, however, to see you even at 9 a.m., or at the start of the noon shift, as well.

Chernin has been making Super Sunday calls for a decade now. It is not as hard as it may seem, he stresses. “You’re just talking to somebody. If you can talk to somebody, you can make a phone call,” he says.

“When you’ve got a person sitting next to you and they’re making the call, it makes you want to make the call. It makes you want to bring in something, whether it is $18 or $72 or whatever it is.”

Chernn says he is bringing his 16-year-old daughter to help make calls on Sunday. She will be joined by peers from the Bergen County High School of Jewish Studies, as well as a contingent of college students from Hillel.

In a four-minute training video (at http://www.jfnnj.org/SuperSunday), Chernin lays out the basics. It begins with the instruction to smile. “It will help you relax, and the other person, on the other end, will hear it in your voice,” he says.

Most of the calls go to people who have previously given to the federation. Not all of them, however. For one in 10 of last year’s Super Sunday responders, it was the first time they donated to the federation.

Chernin says that when the volunteers make the calls, they should be listening for signs that the person could benefit from assistance from the Jewish community.

“You’re going to hear stories, ‘I’d love to help you but my husband just lost his job.’ You should say, “By the way, if you need some help, we’re here to help you,’” and pass the call on to a representative of Jewish Family Services.

Volunteers who are afraid to talk to strangers are welcome, says Chernin, and can find ways to help, but “we really need those phone-callers.”

“Give me three hours of your Sunday, I’ll show you how to make a difference. You’ll walk out so positive and excited that you did something good.

“We’re helping adults living in assisted Jewish housing, Ethiopian teens, congregations and synagogue schools, day schools, seniors in the former Soviet Union. There’s so much that we’re doing using this money.

“In our Northern New Jersey community, there are so many families who need help. That’s what federation’s offices are all about, that’s what Jewish Family Service is about. We’re here to help you in time of need.

“This is the easiest way to give back. We’ll feed you, we’ll make you laugh, you’ll get a little tear in your eye talking to people,” he says. “This is a great day.”

 
 
 
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