“Maybe this is the year you say ‘yes,’” said Ed Kuresman about this year’s Super Sunday. “Who knows—you may think you're signing up for Super Sunday or participating in a conversation, but two years, five years down the road, you may find yourself traveling in a different part of the world, visiting Jews or supporting a local agency, or maybe helping people out who have a close connection to you.”
Ed and his wife Jessica are this year’s chairs of Super Sunday, the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati's community day of giving and phone-a-thon. The couple is excited to make the day engaging and fun, despite the challenges of Covid-19.
“We’re using Super Sunday this year to help reconnect people who haven’t had a chance to talk to or see each other in a year,” said Jessica. “We want to give people an opportunity to reconnect with each other while supporting the community.”
“It’s going to have a slightly different feel this year,” explained Ed. “Historically, it’s been this big group coming together in a physical location, kibitzing together, making phone calls together, working on behalf of the community together, and this year we'll be taking a slightly different approach in trying to reconnect people.”
Ed and Jessica explained there will be an opportunity to pick up bagels and coffee, as well as tzedakah boxes and cupcakes for decorating later in the morning at the Mayerson JCC before the virtual events start.
From 9 to 10 a.m., there will be community conversations; from 10 to 11, the annual phone-a-thon; and from 11 to 12, there will be a community-wide Zoom, with fun activities like a TikTok challenge and Yom HaAtzmaut-themed cupcake decorating.
“People can talk about why they give or why they volunteer,” Jessica said. “Or they can talk about what they would like to see coming up in the next year, and how we can safely all get together again.”
Ed added, “The phone calls and getting people to think about giving are still an important part of the day, but we’re also using this as an opportunity to say, ‘Hi! How are you? I haven’t seen you in 12 months. How’s your family?’ Things like that.”
Ed and Jessica have a long history of volunteering in the Jewish community. Both were part of the LEAD program, which helps develop Jewish volunteer leaders. “That really opened our eyes to all of the organizations the Federation helps support,” said Jessica. “After I graduated from LEAD, I was on several boards, including JVS Career Services, and helping with Women's Philanthropy. Now I'm on Planning and Allocations for the Federation, which allowed me to see how the dollars are spent and where the money goes. It’s a fantastic way to understand how the Federation operates, and why these dollars are needed more than ever.”
Ed added, “We're the type of people who are active participants in everything that we do. We have benefited from other people stepping up and getting involved and giving us opportunities that we wouldn't have otherwise had. And we feel it's our obligation to do the same.”
The couple said they decided it was time for them to step up and chair Super Sunday after talking with Annual Campaign Chairs Sherri and Adam Symson. “They were asking us about our gift for the campaign, and we had a good conversation about why and how much to give, but also about the community and what different ways might be effective in engaging people. That conversation took us here,” Ed recalled.
Super Sunday is made possible not only through the work of Jessica and Ed, but also of Sherri and Adam as Annual Campaign chairs, Community Campaign Chairs Steve Baron and Chris Freeman, Planned Giving and Endowment Chairs Bob Brant and Fran Coleman, Women’s Philanthropy Chairs Alison Caller and Carrie Goldhoff, YAD Chair Danielle Levy, and CYJL Chair Bill Friedman—not to mention all of the community volunteers and donors that help create such a vibrant Jewish community.
“Super Sunday is so important to Jewish Cincinnati,” said Jessica, “not because it’s the final push of the Annual Campaign, but because it’s a time to thank everyone for their support and their generosity to the Federation. It’s not about the amount of money—any gift is meaningful. We’re able to use those dollars to help members of our community who are less fortunate than others.”
“There are so many events that take place over the year,” Ed said. “Maybe with your synagogue, maybe with your day school, maybe with the agency you're engaged in—but Super Sunday is for everybody in the community, whether you're engaged or not engaged, whether you've been giving for decades, or this is your first gift, it's the community's day.”
“Being active and giving back is a part of our Jewish values,” explained Jessica. “It goes beyond religion. It’s an identity. It’s everything to Ed and me. It’s our values, our traditions, how we’re raising our kids. I get emotional talking about it.”
Ed said that being Jewish creates a deep connection between you and millions of people around the world. “I went on a study mission once to Morocco and Madrid, and you end up meeting other Jews, and it's like you’ve known them forever. There is a family aspect to being Jewish. You're never in a true sense a stranger, there's always a connection.”
Because the Kuresmans weren’t afraid to say “yes” when they were first asked to volunteer in the Jewish community, an entire world of opportunity has opened up for them. “By getting involved with Super Sunday, who knows where it will take you,” Jessica said. “You could end up meeting wonderful people, make new friends, or learn how to volunteer at the organizations you’re passionate about.”