The last Sunday of a frigid month brought together many people reaching out to help their fellow New Yorkers in a variety of ways through UJA-Federation of New York’s annual Super Sunday on January 27th.

More than 300 volunteers, as well as UJA-Federation staff in Manhattan, Long Island, and Westchester, raised more than $725,000 from 614 donors in the annual phone-a-thon aimed to help care for people in need, inspire a passion for Jewish life, and strengthen Jewish communities around the world.

Monsignor Sullivan and John Ruskay
Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities, and John S. Ruskay, executive vice president and CEO of UJA-Federation work the phones on Super Sunday reaching out to possible donors. Photo credit: Michael Ach

At UJA-Federation’s Manhattan headquarters, as well as locations in Westchester and Long Island, volunteers made phone calls to solicit support for the annual campaign. In welcoming callers in Manhattan, Alex Budnitsky, CEO and executive director of the Edith and Carl Marks Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst, a beneficiary agency, said, “Thank you for coming here to be part of something very amazing. You’re helping to provide a safety net.” Many of the volunteer callers were from UJA-Federation network agencies.

The day’s activities also included Feeding Our Neighbors: An Interfaith Response, a new joint effort of UJA-Federation and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. The initiative has the goal of collecting and distributing a combined 1 million meals across New York City and Westchester.

“At our core, Jewish and Catholic faith traditions share the basic value that it is a fundamental responsibility to feed all who are hungry within our community,” said John S. Ruskay, UJA-Federation executive vice president and CEO. “It feels especially appropriate then that the Feeding Our Neighbors initiative, a new effort of Catholic Charities and UJA-Federation of New York to address the needs of those who are hungry, also coincides with UJA-Federation’s Super Sunday, our longstanding day of outreach to support New Yorkers and the Jewish community.”

“Beautiful sign of solidarity”

Msgr Sullivan, William Rapfogel, John Ruskay, and Cardinal Dolan
A truck from Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, a UJA-Federation beneficiary agency, stands outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral to collect food as part of the Feeding Our Neighbors initiative with Catholic Charities. Left to right: Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, William E. Rapfogel, executive director and CEO of Met Council; John S. Ruskay; and Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Photo credit: Michael Ach

At UJA-Federation, a food-packaging project, Pack It Up for Purim, took place simultaneously with the phone-a-thon, as part of the interfaith response, and 1,000 food packages were assembled. Pack It Up For Purim  is a communitywide food collection inspired by the Purim tradition, mishloach manot, offering food to a neighbor. Sunday’s packages were distributed by Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty and Catholic Charities. The Pack it Up for Purim food collection will end February 15th.

Earlier Sunday, following morning mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Sunday, volunteers carried crates of food to load trucks also bound for Catholic Charities and Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, a UJA-Federation network agency.

“What a beautiful sign of solidarity in serving the poor,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities, said, “What we’re about today is simply saying, based upon our deep belief in the dignity of every person made in the image and likeness of God, that we have a responsibility to make sure that there is room at the table.”

Monsignor Sullivan visited UJA-Federation to see the food-packaging underway and speak about the initiative’s importance, as well as to help Ruskay and others make Super Sunday phone calls.