If your telephone rings on Sunday, Feb. 11, remember that your answer to that call will make a difference in the lives of Jews in need in Philadelphia, in Israel and around the globe.
It's about community, tradition and affirming an ongoing commitment to the cause. It's Super Sunday 2007 — the community's largest fund-raising event, orchestrated by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and a dedicated corps of volunteer supporters. It will take place on Sunday, Feb. 11, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., at the Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue and at the NCO Group in Horsham and Abrams Hebrew Academy in Yardley from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Efforts are in full swing to recruit hundreds of volunteers from throughout the Greater Philadelphia region to take to the phones in various shifts to reach more than 30,000 Jews.
For some 25 years here in Philadelphia, volunteers of every generation — children, teenagers, adults and elderly — have manned the phone lines in this annual kick-off to the community campaign.
Money raised can change the lives of 15,200 Philadelphia-area impoverished Jews, support the multi-million dollar effort to rebuild war-torn Israel, defray costs for Jewish education, care for our aging population, support our agencies and programs and ensure that a thriving Jewish community remains intact.
"We are one community with diverse needs," said Evey Klein, Federation senior account executive, community development. "We are hoping for 1,000 volunteers with a goal of raising $2 million dollars so that we can continue to make a difference. It is in the hands of the community to answer the call as the needs are great."
The 2007 Super Sunday phoning initiative co-chairs are Jeff Perlman and Mary Relles. Longtime Federation supporters, they are joined by a dozen or so volunteer team leaders. The group is working in unison to mobilize and recruit to ensure that the phone-a-thon achieves the success it has had over the years.
Volunteer team leaders Gail and Larry Simon have been involved with the daylong phoning event since the early 1980s. Yet, their commitment to the Jewish community, for each of them, dates back to their teenage years. Gail was active in the youth group of Main Line Reform Temple Beth Elohim; Larry was active with United Synagogue Youth at a synagogue in his hometown of Springfield, N.J. Married for nearly 40 years, the couple has three adult children and four grandchildren. Gail and Larry have traveled to Israel on multiple occasions. They have demonstrated their solidarity to the Jewish homeland in recent years as members of Federation missions to Israel following the first intifada.
The Simons have witnessed significant changes in Federation's structure over the years, including the formation of the three centers. Through it all, their dedication to the community has remained steadfast. They describe their joint commitment as one that evolved together, beginning at the time when they both worked at Camp Harlam and were considered a "camp couple."
Longtime supporters of Federation, Larry, a CPA and principal in Margolis & Company P.C., has assumed multiple leadership positions within the organization, including that of co-chair of the former Accountants Division, chair of the Trades and Professions Division and member of several Budget and Review committees. Larry is a past president of Main Line Reform Temple (where he and Gail are active members), a past chairman of Camp Harlam, a past chairman of all the Union for Reform Judaism camps in North America, and is a member of the national board of URJ. Gail, a secular history/world culture teacher and Chesed advisor at Akiba Hebrew Academy, was active with Federation's Women's Division (now Women's Philanthropy) and ORT America (formerly Women's American ORT).
In 2006, when the Wynnewood couple was asked to co-chair the Super Sunday Main Line site, they accepted the challenge willingly. When asked to be part of the 2007 volunteer leadership team, they again did not hesitate to accept the call.
Gail and Larry have started recruiting for the Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue site. They both view Super Sunday as a vital community-building day that has consistently provided the necessary "kick start" to the annual campaign.
"Super Sunday marks the start of the annual campaign," said Larry. "It doesn't matter if someone's gift is large or small. Whether it is $36, $54 or thousands; all of these gifts are important. We are one multi-faceted community."
The Simons agree that every year, no matter where the phoning site, there is always an atmosphere and feeling of camaraderie. Larry also reports that over the years, on more than one occasion, he has been able to direct a donor to a helpful community resource while on the phone securing an annual pledge.
Super Sunday has evolved, they say, at first held in one location and later expanding to multiple sites to accommodate a community that has spread its wings into the suburbs.
The Simons have found that the strong community network from Main Line Reform Temple coupled with their personal/professional connections as well as those from the local Kehillot has led to greater recruitment success in recent years.
"Super Sunday has always been a community day. People of all ages come out to take part in the fundraising effort," said Larry. "And since Federation has formed the Kehillot and reached out to involve synagogues and multiple Jewish agencies, it has helped to create a more unified community."
"It's all about klal Yisrael (one people)," stated Gail. "Super Sunday strengthens our sense of community."
Gail and Larry Simon are ready to answer the call to those in need. As Super Sunday 2007 team leaders, they hope the community will join them.
For more information on answering the call or to volunteer for a Super Sunday shift, call 215-832-0630 or www.jewishphilly.org/supersunday.