Feb 10, 2013
After Davening, A Pricey Kiddush

The Wall Street Journal reports: After davening at The Shul of Bal Harbour, a kiddush can fare anywhere from $1,800 to $3,600.

Lucette Lagnado reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Come Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, the atmosphere at Rabbi Sholom Lipskar's synagogue near Bal Harbour, Fla., turns festive. The eating and drinking start early.

Very early.

The synagogue, called The Shul, attracts anywhere from 500 to 800 people each week. Most attend services in the main sanctuary that start around 9 a.m. But some early birds show up for prayers that begin at 7:15 a.m. and conclude by 9:15. Then it is party time for the largely male crowd.

This elegant seaside place of worship is on the cutting edge of the Kiddush—a lavish repast that has helped transform the staid postservice fellowship hour to the kind of boozy, over-the-top spread synonymous with weddings.

Such affairs have become so de rigueur to luring congregants that Rabbi Lipskar has solicited donors for a special "Kiddush bank" to fund the pricey libations and epicurean fare that can cost anywhere from $1,800 to $3,600 per week.

"It is perfect," says Rabbi Lipskar, whose synagogue is part of the Hasidic Lubavitch movement. "God didn't make the delicious stuff only for non-Jews." Those who want a shot of hard liquor—they don't say "let's have a drink," but "let's have a L'chaim," he says, referring to the traditional Jewish toast "to life."

"This is not a drinking fest," he adds. "The drinks are in small cups."

In the face of dwindling attendance at religious services, many rabbis have become similarly creative. At the Bal Harbour shul and other synagogues, the sumptuous food, fine wines and liquors are a way to help draw congregants.

... Last year in Bal Harbour, one donor made an unusual contribution. Each Friday afternoon, on the eve of the Sabbath, his driver appeared carrying a leather suitcase with a giant 1.75 liter bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue label tucked inside. At the Saturday Kiddush, a special volunteer handed out shot glasses of the $500 scotch. "It went pretty fast," Rabbi Lipskar says.

Some of the faithful cast a cold eye on such excess. "It is very upsetting. It is not in keeping with Jewish standards of modesty," says Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president emeritus of the Orthodox Union.

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Opinions and Comments
not everything needs to be shown to the world
Not a kiddush hashem to show the how world how big fressers we are. I am not doubting that a shul in a place like Bal Harbour (where I was once a member) needs to do things sort of over the top to attract people, but laniyat dati we do not need to advertise it.
(2/10/2013 10:45:34 AM)
B"H Does not seem an excess for 800 people
(2/10/2013 11:04:03 AM)
$3 per person
If 600 people show up for a sponsored $1800 Kiddush, that's only $3 pp.

A Bargain for that delicious, gourmet Miami food!
Even $6 is a great price -- I bet it's almost an entire lunch ($3600)!

People at the WSJ really need to get the facts into perspective!
Glad that their Kiddush/L"Chaims are AFTER Minyan --
makes a big difference!
(2/10/2013 12:30:13 PM)
By far not the whole picture
The Shul of Bal Harbour always entertains guests of many ranks and denominations and its members give extremely large donations worldwide, yes worldwide. In addition, at any Kiddish you will see large groups of people less fortunate than many sitting at tables being served on Shabbos and Yom Tov - people who would never have a meal on Shabbos or Yom Tov under any other normal circumstances. Kudos to the Rabbi his family and staff and his entire congregation and may you all be yotzei to enjoy a good L'chaim and delicious food after davening in light of all the hard and good work you do on behalf of others less fortunate. Do not let the envy of others get in the way of your goodness and, yes, we must also remember that no one is perfect and we as a people are not perfect. Unfortunately the article only portrays one thrust but fails to provide the whole picture. Perhaps the writer would like to delve a little deeper and provide a more rounded look at what actually comes out of Bal Harbour??
(2/10/2013 3:18:42 PM)
a lesson
chaim berlin on coney island boasts some of the wealthiest jews in america (fruchthandlers, shruns and so on) you can only serve seltzer and sponge cake and the simple 1 kind of herring in the glass jars..yes thats correct when Mr. fruchthandler (networth 700mm) makes a kiddish for his birthday its just as beautiful as the frum customer relation clerk who earns 25k a year.
(2/10/2013 3:58:22 PM)
Zalman Chen
This is not expensive at all. In 770 YY Kratz charges alot more per person. You only get a plain red bottle of smirnoff..
(2/10/2013 4:23:47 PM)
#5 is correct
If only more people would think this way when it comes to kiddushim ,weddings & Bar mitzvos, things would be a lot different indeed.
(2/10/2013 5:05:14 PM)
What was the point of bringing down the rabbi at the end of the article?
Obviously there are going to be people out there who disagree with saying lchaim, but most of the time their rationale is trying to prevent alcholohism in their communities. It has nothing to do, or rather, it SHOULDN'T have anything to do, with people in a Chabad House getting together in a positive manner and saying lchaim. The article didn't really focus on that aspect, it was more like drawing conclusions solely based on consumption of food and drink. So yes, if it came across as grubbe, fine, I can understand that, but c'mon, you're missing the point if that's all you saw. And let's not forget Takonas HaRebbe as well.
(2/10/2013 5:45:59 PM)
Kiddush means?
Many people start kiddush with the holy words "Zachor es Yom HaShabbos Lekadesho" . The word kiddush means Sanctify. Are we really sanctifying Shabbos when we are gorging ourselves? I wonder if at these mass kiddushes, Is everyone sitting as they should be when they make the brachos on the food they are enjoying (assumimg brachos are being recited in the first place) or is everyone walking around the hall like it's a market , eating in a manner in which we would never allow our children to eat at home?
(2/10/2013 7:57:02 PM)
1200 in long island
(2/11/2013 4:19:10 PM)
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