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Signs of the Times Pop Up All Over the Area
Signs have begun appearing on the lawns of various synagogues, agencies and schools from the Main Line to the Northeast and through the Old York Road corridor as well. Their message? "It's time for Super Sunday 2006."
The message the signs relay: "A New Year. A New Day. A Day of Giving." Hands on either side of the words reach out and below these words appear the location of the nearest phone-a-thon site; the date it will transpire, Feb. 12; the phone number to call to volunteer; and the sponsor, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
The day-long community event at seven sites throughout the five-county area raises funds for Jews at risk, Jewish education and to support Jewish life around the world.
However, the signs represent more than facts, according to Alyse Unterberger, coordinator of Federation's Lower Merion Kehillah. "The message asks congregation members and all who pass by to show their support for the work of Federation," she said. "On the Main Line, synagogues have been enthusiastic and helpful about Super Sunday. In addition to the signs, there's a recruiting chair at each of them, and they've been great about getting information out on their bulletin boards, newsletters and in pulpit announcements."
Unterberger said that having the kehillah on the Main Line for the past two years has helped give the area "a concrete Federation influence and an understanding of its role in growing a sense of community.
"Our rabbis and synagogue leaders have always been aware of this and spoken of it, but now there is an awareness at the grassroots levels that has become part of the synagogues' culture," she added.
Rabbi David Straus, religious leader of Main Line Reform Temple Beth Elohim in Wynnewood, said he hopes the signs symbolize the partnership and growing relationship between synagogues and Federation "to help Jews engage in Jewish life."
Signs were contributed to two of the synagogues on the Main Line by the signage firm, AGS.
"The message is clear," said Alan Prushan, Super Sunday general co-chair with Mary Relles, and director of sign standards programs for AGS. "A lot of synagogues and agencies have signed on, and their members' willingness to volunteer shows a sincere commitment to the Greater Philadelphia and international Jewish communities."
To date, close to 900 volunteers have signed on. Fifteen hundred volunteers are expected.
Signs are a cost-effective way to get the word out on Super Sunday, according to Mark Pitkow, president of Signs Overnight. The company contributed signs for the Old York Road corridor in Melrose Park and Elkins Park, which include four synagogues and Gratz College.
"The lawns of Jewish institutions in this area are well-placed to target the donor market," said Pitkow. "Old York Road is a main artery with good public exposure."
Pitkow said he provides the signs "because I want to give back to the Jewish community."
"It's simple," he added. "I'm Jewish, there's a tradition of giving in my family going back to my grandfather, Samuel Korff, and Super Sunday is a good cause."
The Old York corridor was the first to promote Super Sunday with signs last year when Gratz College was added as a phoning site, said Jill Magerman, coordinator of the Old York Road Kehillah. "I remember driving down Old York Road last year and seeing the signs and thinking what a unified statement they made," she said. "The volunteer turnout at Gratz last year was more than was expected, and I think the signs really helped."
Magerman and other kehillah staffers are talking to synagogue boards and having recruiting captains at each one. "Synagogues are also putting information in their newsletters and e-mails. We expect a strong turnout this year, including synagogue confirmation classes and students from the Jewish Community High School of Gratz College."
At the Congregations of Shaare Shemayim in the Northeast, Jacques Lurie, executive director, explained that the synagogue's lawn sign is a statement of "our desire as a community to continue our ongoing support of Federation, as well as inform people who may not know about its work to find out and join with us."
"We had a banner year at the Klein Branch for the 2005 campaign and we expect this one to be even better," he continued. "Our Teen Learning Community will be there as well as residents of Federation Housing and members of the New American community - an all-out effort. It's an amazing moment when you're making calls and realize that you're sitting with people from so many facets of the community."
Federation Housing, Inc., in the Northeast, has signs at the Robert Saligman House on Roosevelt Blvd., Shalom Arbor House on Bustleton Ave., and the Miriam and Robert M. Reider House on Jamison Ave.
"All of the locations are strategically located on main thoroughfares and visible from public transportation," said Eric Naftulin, executive vice president. "The signs are a great marketing opportunity for Super Sunday.
"Our residents feel warmly about volunteering," he continued. "Sometimes they share their story of how the Jewish community has helped them when they call. It's their way of giving back."
Super Sunday Platinum sponsors are the Jewish Exponent, Klapholz's Kosher Delicatessen and the NCO group.
To volunteer for Super Sunday - or for more information on locations and shifts - call 215-832-0630 or log on to: www.jewishphilly.org/supersunday.