March 7, 2003

Hillel Holds Date Auction

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Last night, Cornell Hillel, along with the Alpha Epsilon Pi and Pi Kappa Alpha fraternities, sponsored a date auction with the proceeds going to the Ithaca branch of the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen as well as toward funding Hillel’s Alternative Spring Breaks program.

The event drew approximately 100 people. Members of the audience paid an entrance fee of $4 and were given the chance to bid money for a date with one of about two dozen members of the Cornell Greek community. According to Rachel Isaacson ’02, Hillel Jewish student life coordinator, “Almost every [fraternity and sorority] house is auctioning someone off.”

The auctionees each went for widely varying amounts of money, ranging from $15 for one male freshman to as high as $105 for a pair of freshman girls. Midway through the auction, refreshments were served and a band performed.

This is the first time Cornell Hillel has held such an event, but Rabbi Ed Rosenthal, executive director of Hillel, expressed a desire to make it an annual tradition and considered the night a success.

Commenting on the amount of money raised by the event, Rosenthal said, “Anything that we can raise to help the Ithaca community is great and anything we can do to raise money for the trips is great.”

Brian Goldberg ’06, one of the auctionees, expressed satisfaction with his participation in the auction.

“I thought it was a great way to help a good cause,” he said.

Rosenthal went on to praise the atmosphere of the event.

“Everyone is having a good time. It’s all in good fun,” he said.

The Alternative Spring Breaks programs are international trips sponsored by Hillel to provide community service and educational experiences for students during the spring. This year, Hillel will sponsor a trip to Cuba as well as one to the Czech Republic and Poland.

Isaacson characterized the trip to Cuba as a “social justice” mission. Participants will perform community service activities, bringing medicine, food and books to the impoverished communist nation. Additionally, while in Cuba, participants will celebrate Passover with members of Havana’s Jewish community.

Rosenthal said that the trip to the Czech Republic and Poland will be devoted primarily to the study of Jewish history and culture. Participants in the trip will visit Prague as well as the Teresenstadt and Auschwitz concentration camps.

“The Jewish Quarter of Prague is the only place in Europe with medieval synagogues,” Rosenthal said.

Prague was left unscathed by World War II because of Hitler’s affection toward the city.

In addition to visiting Jewish cultural sites, the Hillel group will also participate in the restoration of historical sites in Prague which were severely damaged in the massive floods that swept through Central Europe last year.

Archived article by Daniel Palmadesso