Passengers on the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s two chartered buses were treated to snacks before boarding at close to midnight Jan. 4 for the nine-hour drive to New York City.
They were handed a blue bag stamped Jewish Federation of Cleveland with snacks for the overnight part of the trip. That bag included cashews, a fig bar, a clementine, a bottle of water and Veggie Straws. Lunch options were wraps and sides, a bottle of water and soft drinks. Dinner sandwiches consisted of grilled chicken, turkey pastrami and grilled vegetable, plus apple, bottle of water and pasta salad. All food was kosher and gluten-free options were available.
Staff on the buses asked passengers to use a buddy system when arriving in the Big Apple.
Staff also handed out bright blue wookies, or “doo rags,” with the words “CLEVELAND IS STRONGER THAN HATE.”
Federation staff wore bright blue T-shirts on the trip and a volunteer bus captain was assigned to each bus.
Rob Berick, managing director, marketing and communications, for the Federation, answered questions about the quick planning.
CJN: What was the planning timeline?
Berick: Leadership began discussing participation as soon as we learned about it on Jan. 1. The Federation team met early on Jan. 2 to put a plan into action.
CJN: How were arrangements handled?
Berick: In true Federation fashion, it was a team effort that drew upon all corners of the operation with the support of our lay leadership.
CJN: What was different about this trip?
Berick: The great thing about our community is that it is always ready to respond when a need arises – we’re blessed to live in a place where so many people want to be involved and find a way to help. Whether it’s marching in Washington, D.C. on “Freedom Sunday” for Soviet Jews in the ‘80s or holding a vigil for the victims of the Pittsburgh massacre in 2018, the desire to make a difference is always the same. What made this particular effort different was the timeline. We had just 48 hours – between New Year’s Day and Shabbat – to get everything put into place and get the word out to the community.
CJN: Who came up with the design for the signs?
Berick: Our in-house team designed the signs and the rally wear.
CJN: How many signs were made?
Berick: We made two big paper banner signs like the one seen in the group shot in the CJN article. We had a couple hundred hand-held signs made to make sure there were enough for everyone. One outside printer generously donated an additional 100 signs.
CJN: Why give wookies (doo rags)?
Berick: Given the anticipated crowd in New York City of 25,000 people, we wanted to provide participants with something that would make it easy for everyone to quickly identify another member of the Cleveland delegation. Given that it’s January, we knew T-shirts weren’t going to work, so we went with the multi-functional piece that could be used as a bandanna or a scarf or a wristband, etc.
CJN: What was most challenging?
Berick: The timing. We only had 48 hours between New Year’s Day and Shabbat to get everything pulled together.
CJN: How did you arrange for the food?
Berick: We closed registration at noon on Friday to ensure we had the right amount of food. With a midnight departure, we wanted to give folks a late-night snack and be ready to have a light breakfast.