On June 9, the ballroom at Nessah Synagogue was crowded with over three hundred and fifty people, all eyes focused on the stage where the Cheder Menachem Boys Choir was performing. In the hall outside, the visitors munch on sushi and refill their drinks. There is high spirits and laughter as friends and family take their seats. The auction is about to begin.
The Cheder Menachem auction is an annual staple, and at this point, so is Danielle Forer’s involvement. Danielle and her husband Rocky have been involved with the school for years, joining the board even before they had kids in the school. Seven years ago, Danielle began helping at the auction and designed and built the prize displays. The very next year the previous organizer decided to step down, and Danielle was asked to step up.
Danielle remembers that first auction, six years ago, very clearly because her daughter was born shortly thereafter. “I call her my auction baby,” she says with a laugh. “There had been only a few months to plan that auction, but typically planning takes most of the year, beginning in September and ending with the June event.”
There are a handful of other volunteers who work to make this event a memorable one. Devorie Baitelman is one of these volunteers, and she starts soliciting prizes all the way back in October. That work certainly pays off; there is a stunning array of prizes on display, creative, adventurous and personal. There are two round-trip tickets to Israel, jewelry, sheitels, seforim, vacation packages, and a variety of the latest Apple products (including a Mac and an iPad Air), along with gift certificates and even cash.
Prizes are impressively arranged on heavily laden tables that are beautifully decorated with books and book-related art per this year’s theme of written words. And Danielle still manages the displays. “This is what my living room looked like for the past months,” she said smiling and gesturing to the auction prizes. The theme and the MC are different each year and Danny Fishman ran this year’s entertainment and prize drawing. Yet some things remain the same, namely the assistance this provides to Cheder Menachem School along with the communal feeling. “I love the positive feeling this creates for these families,” says Baitelman. “It’s a memorable social evening, even if you don’t win, and everyone leaves feeling good about supporting the school.”