Tzedakah Tzunday raises almost $108,000 with help from teen and young adult volunteers

Posted on: February 15th, 2017 by tgregory

The phone bank on the final shift of Tzedakah Tzunday is dominated by teens and young adults representing Vanderbilt, Get Connected and NowGen Nashville. (Photos by Rick Malkin)

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.  

Zoe Kress, innovation specialist with Vanderbilt Hillel, rings a bell after securing a pledge for the 2017 annual campaign of the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

“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 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. 

Tzedakah Tzunday Volunteers help raised more than $108,000 from 186 donors.

“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. 

Representing Vanderbilt Hillel, Sydney Hanan
Yamila Saiegh were among 40 youth and young adult volunteers for Tzedakah Tzunday.

“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. •