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October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
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Did Your Shul Pocket $660,000 from Maftir Yona?


“Auctioning” off the honor of being called to the Torah and for the privilege of reading the “Haftorah,” or “Maftir” section of the Prophets, is common in the Diaspora and also in many urban and more affluent communities in Israel, but it takes a lot to top an unidentified Moscow millionaire, or perhaps billionaire, who paid $660,000 for the honor to read the Book of Yona (Jonah).

Hadrei Haredim reported that the money was pledged at Moscow’s central syangogue for Jewish institutions and a yeshiva.

Several Israeli Hassidic synagogues did not do as well but can’t complain. Tzvi Frank of the United States paid $17,000 to read ‘Maftir Yona” during afternoon prayers on Yom Kipper at the Navdorna yeshiva synagogue, according to Kikkar Shabbat. Navdorna is a town that was in Poland between the two world wars and now is Ukraine.

At the Erlau Hassidic synagogue, the same honor was “sold” for $28,000 but Bnei Brak’s Luvlin yeshiva settled for “only” $6,200. However, one person paid nearly twice that sum for opening the Holy Ark continuing Torah scrolls.

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7 Responses to “Did Your Shul Pocket $660,000 from Maftir Yona?”

  1. Larry Brook says:

    At our 550-family congregation, zero. We have never charged for honors. Of the congregations in the three states covered by Southern Jewish Life magazine, I know of only one congregation that raises money through HHD honors. Now, for a really meaningful experience, forget battling the huge crowds and go to a small, isolated Jewish community where they may have only 20 or 30 people and could use some warm bodies (at one such a few years back, there were 25 and I wound up with the first day Rosh Hashanah haftorah at the last minute. At others, half the crowd is curious non-Jews).

  2. Larry Brook says:

    At our 550-family congregation, zero. We have never charged for honors. Of the congregations in the three states covered by Southern Jewish Life magazine, I know of only one congregation that raises money through HHD honors. Now, for a really meaningful experience, forget battling the huge crowds and go to a small, isolated Jewish community where they may have only 20 or 30 people and could use some warm bodies (at one such a few years back, there were 25 and I wound up with the first day Rosh Hashanah haftorah at the last minute. At others, half the crowd is curious non-Jews).

  3. Larry Brook says:

    At our 550-family congregation, zero. We have never charged for honors. Of the congregations in the three states covered by Southern Jewish Life magazine, I know of only one congregation that raises money through HHD honors. Now, for a really meaningful experience, forget battling the huge crowds and go to a small, isolated Jewish community where they may have only 20 or 30 people and could use some warm bodies (at one such a few years back, there were 25 and I wound up with the first day Rosh Hashanah haftorah at the last minute. At others, half the crowd is curious non-Jews).

  4. I believe in people providing the gifts that they have – Some have money, others have other gifts.Yesher koach to all givers.we pray for all those who support communal efforts.

  5. Eva Feld says:

    In other words, Torah privileges go to the givers. Good for them. The Synagogue wins and life goes on. Ya-asher kochachem. But is that why Hashem gave us the Torah?

  6. Ch Hoffman says:

    the purpose of auctioning aliyas is to allow men with oversized egos to battle among one another for the right to get some recognition for money they're going to give anyhow

    It's harmless, except when it takes time from lunch, which is why it's OK on Yom Kippur

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