January 16, 2019

Federation raises more than $1 Million on Super Sunday

Despite facing stiff competition — a beautiful, sunny Sunday after a day of heavy rain as well as the tense political climate — more than 300 volunteers helped to raise more than $1 million for The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles during the organization’s Super Sunday phone-a-thon on Feb. 12.

“I do believe that, even though it may be more challenging to raise money in the Jewish community this year, the Jewish community will stand up and make the Federation a priority,” Federation President and CEO Jay Sanderson said during the event. “There are significant numbers of people who are writing checks to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, but I don’t believe this will be a challenge for us.”

The pristine weather made it more difficult for the phone-calling volunteers to reach people at home, but they were still able to raise $1,091,808, a little less than the $1.3 million raised during the same event in 2016.

Among the volunteers who came to the Jewish Federation Valley Alliance offices in Woodland Hills were teenagers from various Jewish youth organizations and people who brought their children and grandchildren to show them the spirit of giving.

Ben Berger, 24, has been a Super Sunday volunteer since he was in sixth grade as a student at Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School in Northridge. Berger, an actor, raised $30,000 last year but found this Sunday a little more challenging. “Not many people are answering the phone, but those who do never say no,” he said with a broad smile.

Sitting next to Berger was Andrew Hoffman, 36, also an actor, who was participating in his first Super Sunday. “I heard about the fundraiser through Facebook and decided to come,” Hoffman said. “So far, I wasn’t able to reach anyone on the phone, but I’m not going to give up.”

Rabbi Rachel Bat-Or, helpline director at JQ International, an organization that describes its work as increasing visibility and opportunity for LGBT Jews and their allies, recruited four volunteers for Super Sunday. One of them, Anna Goodman, 27, JQ’s program director, was working the phone tirelessly, calling people on a Federation list as well as her family and friends. She also talked to the teen volunteers about JQ, which is supported by Federation.

Volunteers make phone calls during the Jewish Federation’s Annual Super Sunday on Feb. 12. Photo by Howard Pasamanick Photography.

Volunteers make phone calls during the Jewish Federation’s Annual Super Sunday on Feb. 12. Photo by Howard Pasamanick Photography.

Sanderson said the Federation has been holding the annual Super Sunday event for more than 25 years, with the funds raised going to support many initiatives. “Touching Jewish lives from the moment a child is born and on, training early childhood educators in Jewish schools and synagogues, summer camps, PJ Library, college campuses and much more,” he said. “Sixty percent of what we do is about tomorrow, the future of the Jewish community.”

Among the volunteers were three friends — Jay Mangel, Larry Cohen and George Hess who came with their wives and have been active Federation members for many years.

“We went to Israel on a Mensch Mission and also to different cities in the States,” said Mangel, a certified public accountant. “One of the projects we participated in was we built a house in New Orleans.”

Cohen, who owns an advertising agency, has been volunteering at Super Sunday for the past 20 years. “It’s a great cause and it’s nice being with people who share the same values and ideas,” he said. “We’d rather support the Federation than go out to protest. And besides, it’s cheaper than a date night.”