Young and Young at Heart Volunteers Make Super Sunday a Success

By Mary Klaus

Jane Halper is no stranger to Super Sunday at the Jewish Community Center. She’s been coming to the fundraising event with her parents for years.

Now, at the venerable age of 11, the Silver Academy student knows first-hand the importance of the phone-a-thon highlighting the Jewish Federation’s annual fundraising campaign, which supports the community through JCC/Federation programs, services, and other initiatives.

“We’re here to raise money to help Iddy Biddy basketball, the Purim Carnival, summer camp, and more,” she said while helping her father, Alex Halper, with his Super Sunday paperwork. “This is about people in the community helping the community.”

She grinned as Jenn Ross, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg, rang a bell indicating a positive reply to her call. Super Sunday raised more than $54,000 toward the 2022 campaign goal of $885,000.

Fifteen volunteers ranging from their 20s to their 80s spent a chilly Sunday chatting through the Federation’s phones and ringing the white ceramic bells which are a traditional part of the day. Outside, snow flurries fell and trees whipped in the brisk breeze. Inside, the volunteers focused on their conversations with fellow community members.

Volunteers telephoned hundreds of potential donors and asked them for financial pledges to fund critically needed services for Jewish life in and beyond this community. Despite international unrest, the ongoing pandemic and the faltering economy, callers reported positive responses.

“This is one of three campaigns we have in 2022,” Ross said, adding that the other campaigns will be for the Alexander Grass Campus for Jewish Life and for LiveSecure. The latter, in partnership with the Jewish Federations in Lehigh Valley and Reading, is one in which the Jewish Federations of North America will provide a matching $1 for every $2 the three area federations raise for security purposes, up to $100,000 annually for three years.

Jane Halper, more familiar with using a cell phone than a desktop phone, helped her father, Alex, by dialing the numbers, while Alex implored community members to pledge their support.

“I enjoy talking to people connected to the community,” Alex Halper said. “We talk about how they’ve been for the past year and what the Federation means to them. I spoke to one man today whose son was nearby and in the conversation, too.”

Alex Halper, a Super Sunday caller for ten years, said that many people this year are donating more than in the past.

Cynthia Sussman, a lifelong member of the local Jewish community and a Super Sunday caller for more than thirty years, said that she mostly called members of Beth El Temple.

“My family members are among the founders of Beth El,” she said. “I know a lot of people there. I did well today with the people who answered the phone. Probably 90 percent increased their pledges from last year.” Over the years, Sussman’s three children also have been Super Sunday volunteers.

The annual campaign provides the Federation with “the necessary financial resources to continue to provide the programming and services upon which the Jewish and broader Harrisburg community has come to rely on,” said Bruce Weber, Director of Finance and Operations. “This includes especially our focus on seniors, youth programming, and care and education for children through age five.”

Weber, who has been involved with Super Sunday for nearly two decades, made about fifty phone calls at this year’s event.

Rabbi Ron Muroff of Chisuk Emuna, a Super Sunday volunteer caller for nearly three decades, said that he had good conversations with those he reached.

“One lady thanked us for having Cheryl Yablon (director of the Senior Adult Club and activities) and for the sense of community here,” he said. “People seem enthused to contribute. When you give, you receive. When you receive, you give.”

Money raised on Super Sunday and in the overall campaign supports the Jewish community through the Federation and JCC’s programs and services, ranging from the Brenner Early Learning Center to senior adult programs, advocacy against anti-semitism and for security funding, Community Review, Shalom Neighbor directory, PJ Library, Holocaust Education, and more.

Anyone wishing to donate to the campaign may send contributions to the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg, 3301 N. Front St., Harrisburg, Pa. 17110.