It's your call! Whether you're a volunteer manning the phones or on the receiving end of an urgent appeal for campaign dollars, it is your call that can change lives and make a difference on Super Sunday 2007.
The largest community-wide fundraising event, organized annually by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, will take place on Sunday, Feb. 11, at the Philadelphia Hilton City Avenue from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and at the NCO Group in Horsham and Abrams Hebrew Academy in Yardley from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Super Sunday 2007 phoning initiative co-chairs Mary Relles and Jeff Perlman and their committee are in high gear recruiting volunteers as the big event draws closer in an effort to raise $2 million for the annual community campaign.
"The success of Super Sunday depends on everyone involved," said Relles, co-chair of the event for the second year. "It's up to the community — the volunteers who so generously give of their time and energy and the people who answer the call — taking financial responsibility year after year to help those in need."
Relles says that with increasing needs throughout the region and the world and with efforts to rebuild war-torn Israel, now more than ever, financial support is vital to ensure the survival of the Jewish community.
Relles has been involved with Federation fundraising in the Bux-Mont region for more than 20 years. A board member since 1986, she co-chaired the Bux-Mont Women's Division, Yahad (now known as the Kehillah of Bux-Mont), the Bux-Mont community campaign and the regional Super Sunday. Relles and her husband, Nathan, have been volunteers for many Jewish organizations, beginning with the University of Wisconsin Hillel, where they met in 1965; Temple Sinai, where they have been members since 1979; and Camp Ramah in the Poconos, where three of their four children were campers and staff.
Relles, a native of Milwaukee, describes her commitment and sense of responsibility to the Jewish community as one that began in childhood with the strong influence of her parents and grandmother. "Just as my family did for me, I hope to set an example for my children and grandchildren," said Relles.
According to Relles, "Super Sunday is not only the needed kick-start to the annual campaign; it is a day that brings Jews together of all ages and backgrounds." And, she says, it is this spirit of camaraderie and cohesiveness that energizes volunteers. "It is really important for the Jewish community of Philadelphia to come together with one purpose to ensure our future and to help Jews at risk. With a gift to Federation, you have the ability to help so many people because the money is used for a myriad of purposes.
"As Jews, we have a responsibility to take care of our own," she added. "Each year, I reaffirm my Judaism by giving of my time and money. The majority of American Jews is so fortunate and this is the best way we can show our gratitude for everything we have."
There are many shifts throughout the day and evening, as well as refreshments for all volunteers. The Renaissance Group will gather from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the City Line Avenue location. "This adds a social element for that group," said co-chair Perlman.
"It is much easier to make calls when you're part of a team." It is team spirit, observes Relles, that creates enthusiasm during the phoning event. "All volunteers will receive motivational training before taking to the phones," she said. "This way, they will be prepared and at ease when answering questions."
In furthering the concept of teamwork, Relles notes that this year's structure encompasses teams from every Kehillah and representatives from area synagogues and Jewish partner agencies. "One of the joys of being Super Sunday co-chair is the opportunity to work with Federation lead staff, Evey Klein, and dedicated volunteers from all parts of the Philadelphia area," said Relles.
In answering Federation's call for Super Sunday leadership, Perlman says that when asked this year to accept the stint as co-chair, he did not hesitate. A native of Northeast Philadelphia, who resides on the Main Line, Perlman describes his commitment to Jewish communal service as one instilled by his parents early in childhood. As a teenager, he was active with his synagogue youth group and attended Hebrew School through grade 12. His dedication to Jewish causes continued as he served as a United Synagogue Youth advisor and taught Hebrew School at Congregation Rodeph Shalom.
Perlman, an attorney who spends many an hour in court litigating cases, has been active with Federation for more than 20 years. He describes his participation on a Federation Young Leadership mission to Israel in 1985 as the pivotal turning point, further igniting his passion and reaffirming his commitment to leadership.
Previously active with the Young Leadership Council (now called Renaissance Group), he chaired various committees and initiatives as well as serving on a Super Sunday committee a decade ago. Following Federation's implementation of a strategic philanthropy plan several years ago and the formation of the three centers, Perlman dedicated his leadership activities to the Center for Israel and Overseas. In 2006, he co-chaired Federation's Israel Independence Day.
Perlman recognizes that "we are a community with significant needs." He points to an increasing aging population, some 15,200 impoverished Jews in our region as well as ongoing needs in Israel and around the globe.
"Super Sunday is the biggest event that Federation has to raise money to support Jewish organizations and to help those in need of services," stated Perlman. "Whether the need is for those who are economically deprived, those that are hungry or to help synagogues increase membership, the needs must be addressed.
"It's important to me that the work of Federation continues and not be hindered in any way by a lack of funding," continued Perlman. "This event is not only the avenue to raise money but also to educate people about the importance of Federation and the vital services being provided.
"We cannot fulfill these needs without the funding. There are many elderly in our community in Northeast Philadelphia and South Philadelphia who look to us for help. Whether their need is for food, for care in their homes, medical referrals or social programs at the Jewish Community Centers — they depend upon us.
"Super Sunday 2007 is going to be festive and fun, with a lot of ruach (spirit) in the room," said Perlman. "We will be under one roof; demonstrating that we are one united Jewish community. We will not only be encouraging people to give to Federation but also to increase their gift because the needs are greater than they have ever been."
"It's your call," say co-chairs Relles and Perlman. "Join us in answering the call."
For more information, to volunteer for Super Sunday 2007 or make a donation, contact 215-832-0630 or www.jewishphilly.org/supersunday.