So many teenagers and young adults volunteered during the final shift of the annual Tzedakah Tzunday phone-a-thon this month that there weren’t enough phones to accommodate them.
Not a problem. Those without access to a land line just whipped out their personal cell phones and started making calls on behalf of the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee.
The young people were among more than 70 volunteers who showed up at the Gordon Jewish Community Center on Sunday, Feb. 12 to help raise funds for the Federation’s 2017 annual campaign. By the time the last call had been made, the Federation’s biggest fundraiser of the year had brought in a total of almost $108,000 from 186 donors. With the Tzedakah Tzunday pledges, the annual campaign has raised more than $1.523 million towards its goal of $2.75 million.
“This year’s Tzedakah Tzunday was so successful,” said Naomi Limor Sedek, the Federation’s assistant executive director. “We saw more multi-generational engagement and are looking forward to continuing the 30 Days of Doing Good momentum.”
As in years past, the fundraising effort was aided by an anonymous donor who agreed to match dollar-for-dollar all new pledges and all increases in giving by previous donors. The match remains in effect for donations made through the end of February, and anyone who wants to pledge can do so online at www.jewishnashville.org or by calling Sedek at (615) 354-1642.
Noting that many young children were on hand to see their parents volunteer, Sedek said the value of Tzedakah Tzunday extends far beyond the funds it raises. It provides an opportunity for “a real transmission of Jewish values between generations through giving back and philanthropy.”
Sedek said she was especially inspired during the last shift when more than 40 people were on the phones, many of the representing Vanderbilt Hillel, Get Connected, the Federation-sponsored Israel immersion program for teenagers, and NowGen Nashville, the Federation group for young Jewish professionals ages 22-40.
“There was so much volunteer energy in the room and so many young people – we had people spilling out of our normal calling space into the library and on the floor in the old lobby of the GJCC,” she said.
Students representing Vanderbilt Hillel and Vanderbilt Chabad have been a fixture at Tzedakah Tzunday in recent years because it is a good way for them to show their appreciation and give back to the community that supports them, said said Ari Dubin, executive director of Vanderbilt Hillel.
“Hillel would not be able to accomplish our mission without that community support, and Tzedakah Tzunday is an important opportunity for us to ensure that our students, the future leaders and stakeholders of American Jewry, understand the vital role the Federation plays in ensuring we are able to function on campus,” he said. •