By Stacey Dresner
SPRINGFIELD – Jeremy and Yana Powers of Longmeadow are the co-chairs of Super Sunday, which will take place on Sunday, Feb. 3 with a follow-up calling session on Sunday, Feb. 10. Viola, Chrabascz, Reynolds & Co. is the gold sponsor of the event.
Yes, Feb. 3 is Super Bowl Sunday, but the Powers encourage everyone in the community to volunteer for a couple of hours before the “Big Game.”
“I think it is a good omen for our local Jewish community and the Patriots too,” laughed Jeremy.
Volunteers can make calls from both the Upper Valley and Lower Valley locations. The schedule is as follows: Super Sunday, Feb. 3: 9 – 11:30 a.m. at the Federation office, 1160 Dickinson St. in Springfield and Lander~Grinspoon Academy, 257 Prospect St. in Northampton. On Sunday, Feb. 10, calls will be made 9 – 11 a.m. at the Federation office, and 4 – 6 p.m. at UMass Hillel in Amherst.
No experience is necessary, and training will be provided for all volunteers.
The past year has been a difficult one, between missile attacks from Gaza on Israel, Hurricane Sandy, and a continued downturn in the economy, and supporters of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts know their efforts are needed more than ever.
Super Sunday, the Federation’s biggest annual fundraising event, is the day the entire community joins together to raise the funds needed to answer the most pressing needs of the Jewish community in Western Massachusetts, in Israel, and in 70 countries around the world. The event will raise funds for the 2013 Federation Annual Campaign, which helps feeds the hungry; supports people in crisis; ensures services for seniors, people with special needs, and the unemployed; makes Jewish education more affordable; provides Birthright trips to Israel; and much more.
Jeremy and Yana Powers have become fully entrenched members of the local Jewish community. Jeremy grew up in the Springfield area and Yana was born in Baku, Azerbijan, which was part of the former Soviet Union. She and her family immigrated to Springfield in the early 1990s, settling in the Forest Park section of the city. For a few years the couple lived in Boston (where Yana attended college) but they returned to the Springfield area –settling in Longmeadow – around two years ago to be closer to family. They are the parents of two young children, Ari, a student at Heritage Academy, and Vicki, who attends the Jewish Community Center Preschool, and are members of Temple Beth El.
Jeremy became involved with the Jewish Federation’s Young Adult Division upon returning to the Springfield area. “I met Dave Steinberg and Rachel Berezin, who essentially head the program a year and a half ago at an event at Congregation B’nai Torah,” he recalled. “I thought it was something good for the community so I became involved and started attending events.”
He now serves on the Steering Committee of the Young Adult Division.
“I think it’s really important that young people get involved in the community, get involved with the synagogues and Federation. Federation supports the local Jewish day schools and supports a lot of Jewish activities in this area. It is important to get involved in the Federation because it builds community.”
Jeremy also serves on the board of trustees at Heritage Academy, and is taking continuing adult education courses through the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School and the Jewish Learning Institute. He is an attorney who works in private practice in Springfield.
Yana is an active member of the Federation’s Young Adult Division as well as the JCC’s Camp Committee. She works in the triage department at Pioneer Valley Pediatrics.
Yana, her parents, grandparents and her sister arrived in Springfield from Azerbijan when she was 12 years old, and the family was instantly adopted by the Jewish Federation and Jewish Family Services. They helped to enroll Yana at Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy to receive a Jewish education and assisted the family in the search for a synagogue. The family eventually joined Temple Beth El.
“I feel like they helped us a lot when we came here to assimilate in the Jewish community,” Yana said. “We knew some Jewish traditions but we couldn’t practice them in Russia, so they definitely helped us learn to celebrate Shabbat and the rituals by going to LYA and Beth El. I had my bat mitzvah, which I probably never would have had if I was in Russia. Now I feel it is time to give back to the community and to be involved. My kids are now going to Jewish schools and I want to invest in a Jewish education and have them be involved and learn from us that it is good to be involved in the Jewish community.”
For more than 85 years, the Jewish Federation has been raising funds to meet the ongoing needs of the community, like those of Yana Powers’ family. The Federation funds and supports a community-wide network of organizations that care for people in need in Western Massachusetts, in Israel, and in 70 countries around the world, and nurtures and sustains the Jewish community today and for future generations. Even during these difficult economic times, when the Federation’s highest priority is helping people in financial crisis feed their families, pay their rent and get back on their feet, the Federation continues to ensure that the programs and institutions that enrich Jewish life in Western Massachusetts, in Israel, and around the world, remain vibrant and strong.
During natural disasters and times of crisis in the U.S. and around the globe, the Federation responds. The Federation provided lifesaving humanitarian relief last fall during Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast, as well as during previous natural disasters in Haiti and Japan. Over the past several decades, the Federation has helped airlift thousands of Ethiopian Jews to safety in Israel, and rescue and resettle more than one million Soviet Jews in Israel and North America.
The Federation’s local beneficiary agencies include: Congregation Beit Ahavah, Congregation B’nai Israel, Hebrew High School of New England, Heritage Academy, the Jewish Community of Amherst, Jewish Family Service, Lander~Grinspoon Academy, Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy, Resource Center for Jewish Education, The Sandi Kupperman Learning Center at Temple Beth El, Sinai Temple Religious School, Springfield Jewish Community Center, and UMass Hillel. National organizations that receive funding include Taglit-Birthright Israel, and overseas agencies include American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), and World ORT.
Numerous prizes will be given away during Super Sunday, including the coveted “Golden Phone Award”—a $1,000 prize to the beneficiary agency with the highest number of Super Sunday volunteers. This award has increased the number of volunteers, and instilled a sense of friendly competition between agencies. In addition, a Team Spirit trophy will be awarded to the agency with the most ruach (spirit). Numerous prizes will be given to volunteers who obtain pledges from new donors.
“It is really important to get a good showing on Super Sunday, especially among people who traditionally have not been involved with Federation or Super Sunday,” Jeremy said. “It is a good opportunity to reach out to new people – younger people and unaffiliated people in the community.”
To register as a volunteer, visit www.jewishwesternmass.org.
For more information, contact Debbie Peskin, Super Sunday Coordinator, at (413) 737-4313, ext. 121.