Thou shalt answer the phone

Super Sunday, which falls this weekend, is the one day a year when we Jews are commanded to keep our phone lines open to await a solicitation call from the local federation.

No, it’s not literally commanded in the Torah, but it’s certainly implied.

We are indeed commanded to not cut ourselves off from the community. We are commanded to give the corners of our fields and our fallen fruit to the poor.

Sounds like Super Sunday to us.

Every year, Super Sunday provides a golden opportunity for the Jewish community to come together, flex its collective financial muscle and raise the funds needed to do good works all year long.

More than a thousand volunteers will run the phone bank at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, reaching out to thousands of Jews across the region. The money raised on Super Sunday will add significantly to federation coffers. Last year alone, the S.F.-based federation distributed nearly $23 million to beneficiaries.

The funds raised not only help the federations’ charitable efforts here in the Bay Area, but also travel around the world helping hard-pressed Jewish communities everywhere from Argentina to Kazakhstan. And of course, the money also helps to strengthen Israel.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the first Super Sunday in Bay Area. As our story this week points out, the original event in the Washington, D.C. area claims some local roots, with the sons of founder Jerome Dick both Bay Area residents.

Since that maiden effort, the Bay Area Jewish community has grown significantly, both in population and presence. Beautiful new JCCs, synagogues and other grand edifices have been built. The reach of our local institutions and leaders is long. In some ways, times have never been better for us.

But as the 2004 Jewish Community Study pointed out, almost one in 10 Jewish households are low income. Nine percent of Jews between 18 and 65 are unemployed. And according to the same study, more than one in five Jewish children from single-parent homes live on the borderline of poverty.

These figures are simply unacceptable.

In times of draconian government cutbacks and an increasingly threadbare social safety net, the need to take care of our own has never been greater.

As a community, we must support our institutions, our children and our future. Super Sunday is a painless and easy way to do so, either as a donor or as a volunteer.

When the call comes in this weekend, we urge our readers to dig deep and respond generously.