$1.8M synagogue seats fail to draw bids

The Associated Press

An eBay auction for two lifetime, front-row seats to services at a synagogue in Miami has failed to fetch any bids at the starting price of $1.8 million US.

Besides getting to schmooze up front with the rabbi, the auction winner's family name would have been engraved on Seats 1 and 2 of Row 1, Section DD, at Temple Emanu-El. The winner also would have received free parking, two custom-made prayer shawls and yarmulkes, and a hefty tax write-off. Plus, the winning bidder would have been able to pass the seats down to his or her children.

"It's a gift that goes from one generation to another," said Rabbi Kliel Rose, who devised the concept with a little bit of chutzpah and the help of two congregants who work in advertising and marketing.

The auction ended Monday morning and did not fetch any bids. But Rose said the auction was more about gaining the attention of Jews who are disconnected from their faith.

Temple Emanu-El is a 1,400-seat conservative congregation that was founded in the 1940s on South Beach. It had thousands of members in its heyday, but the temple had shrunk to a little more than 200 families by the time Rose arrived two years ago.