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Super Sunday: A Person-to-Person Connection

January 26, 2012
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Elliot Rosen helped to bring Super Sunday to Greater Philadelphia and has been involved in the annual phone-a-thon ever since its inception in the early 1980s.

"The late Jerome Dick, a campaign leader in the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, pioneered the concept in 1980," Rosen said, adding that Dick's concept of a community event using the telephone to connect volunteers of all ages and backgrounds with campaign donors has been successfully replicated by Jewish Federations across the country.

The Greater Philadelphia Jewish Community's 2012 Super Sunday event will be held on Feb. 12, at the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy on Federation's Schwartz Campus in Bryn Mawr. Rosen will be there to help wherever he is needed.

Super Sunday leadership know that that they can count on him to train and motivate volunteers, to assist with cash collections or simply to offer the historical perspective that comes from some three decades of hands-on voluntarism. "Super Sunday is a powerful and wonderful opportunity to mobilize the community," he said.

Mitch Sterling, the current vice chair of Leadership Development for Federation's Renaissance Group, is one of the many young adults, ages 25 to 45, who believe in the value of Super Sunday as "a hands-on opportunity to make a very real, measurable difference in our region."

Sterling emphasizes that the impressive results of this single most important day of fundraising on the Jewish community's calendar "cannot only be tallied in dollars raised, but also in the incredible sense of community that develops as friends and families across the city donate their time, energy and resources in pursuit of a common goal."

Mary Relles has been a Super Sunday volunteer for more than 25 years and her enthusiasm for the event has not waivered. "Every year, I am re-energized by the power of so many volunteers who care deeply about our Jewish community," she explained.

Relles, a former Super Sunday co-chair, said that she never ceases to be impressed by the sight of "generations coming together and reaching out to their fellow Jews across the Greater Philadelphia area." She emphasized that "every gift we receive is a mitzvah that will help enrich a Jewish life."

Jodi Miller has volunteered for Super Sunday for the past five years and describes the event as "a truly inspirational day where members from all parts of our community -- young and old, those who are major donors and those who are recipients, join together with one ultimate goal: to raise money to benefit our Jewish community, both here at home and overseas." She added that "it is very empowering to feel the energy in the room as we sit there together, making these calls."

Miller commented that her most memorable experience to date was sitting across the table from her then 9-year-old son, Benjamin, a first-time Super Sunday volunteer.

"I watched his face light up as people responded positively to him on the phone and knew that this experience would help plant in him for life the importance of tzedakah, of giving back to our community," she said. At that moment, Miller understood "how important it is that we as parents model the right behavior for our children, our Jewish future."

Ethel Hamburger has been a Super Sunday volunteer in two states. She was a regular on the phones for almost 20 years at the local Jewish Community Center in Chevy Chase, Md., where the annual event was staged. When Hamburger relocated to Elkins Park, she took a temporary hiatus from her phone-a-thon duties due to lack of transportation.

"When I moved to Martins Run Life Care community in 2007, I was delighted to learn that they offered van service to Super Sunday," she said, adding,"I've been volunteering ever since."

A self-described "people person," Hamburger said she enjoys "talking on the phone with her fellow Jews about the wonderful programs and services they help support throughout Philadelphia, in Israel and around the world by making their campaign gifts. It's a great event to become involved with," Hamburger enthused.

For Miller, part of Rabbi Hillel's famous words -- "If I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?" -- underscore the importance of strong community participation in Super Sunday. "The needs of our community are so great -- whether feeding the hungry, providing lifelines for the elderly or educating the next generation of Jews. It is so important for us to all come out to support and raise this money for the Jewish community because if we don't, no one else is going to do it for us -- and then where will we be?"

Super Sunday Co-chairs Bryna and Fred Berman and Jennifer and Michael Willner encourage the community to pre-register online at jewishphilly.org/supersunday for the 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., or 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. shifts.

Sponsors for the event are A-Best Vending, Blank Rome LLP, Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, Canada Dry Delaware Valley, CSG Global, Jewish Exponent, KYW News Radio, Philip Roseneau Co., Inc., Raymond and Miriam Klein JCC, Stonehenge Advisors, Inc and Quality Express Coffee.

For more information, call 215-832-0630.

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