Sometimes, generosity comes in waves.
After being told that his Oceanside, L.I., synagogue had won $10,000 in a Yeshiva University Facebook contest, beating out four other synagogues and a day school ravaged by Superstorm Sandy, Rabbi Jonathan Muskat decided to share his winnings with them.
“We felt so many communities also suffered that it was only right we share this act of chesed (kindness) with other communities that suffered damage as well,” he explained.
Rabbi Muskat, spiritual leader of the Young Israel of Oceanside, said his congregation lost about 1,000 holy books from the congregation’s library when ocean water flooded the basement. He said he was “very gratified” to learn that students at Yeshiva University had decided to donate $10,000 from the proceeds of their annual Seforim Sale to help replenish the library.
The Seforim Sale, billed as North America’s largest Jewish book sale, has been an annual student-run event at Yeshiva University’s Washington Heights campus for more than 30 years, according to Yehuda Kaminer, a senior in the university’s business school who is CEO of this year’s sale.
“About 15,000 customers come here annually to buy books at a discount,” he said. There are about 10,000 titles in rabbinic and academic literature, cookbooks and children’s books to select from.
Annual sales generally exceed $1 million, and Kaminer said that each year some of the profit is donated to various student groups on campus. But after Superstorm Sandy left such destruction, he said, “we wanted to do something that was relevant to the times —and that was Sandy. And the best way to do that was to use our Facebook page to ask which shuls [synagogues] were affected.”
With the help of those familiar with damage in the area, five synagogues and the Hebrew Academy of Long Beach were chosen. People were then asked to vote on Facebook for the institution they would like to see get the $10,000. After two weeks, 3,000 individuals cast votes and the Young Israel of Oceanside received the most with 1,400 votes.
Each of the institutions were invited to create a registry on the Seforim Sale Facebook page that includes a list of the books they need, similar to a wedding registry. People who would like to buy a book for the institution may do so at the discounted price.
“After people donate books from that list, we will buy as many as we can of what is left,” Kaminer said.
At Rabbi Muskat’s request, the Young Israel of Oceanside will get to spend $5,000 on books, Agudath Israel of Bayswater will get $3,000, and HALB, Congregation Ohah Zedek of Belle Harbor, Young Israel of Long Beach and Congregation Ahavas Yisrael of Cedarhurst will each receive $500 worth of seforim.
The Seforim Sale runs through March 3 in Belfer Hall, 2495 Amsterdam Ave., Manhattan. Books can also be ordered online at www.theseforimsale.com.