Maimonides auction organizers up aspirations, expect results
By Toshio Suzuki
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With a renewed vigor from event organizers, the March 18 Maimonides School auction is hoping to improve on the 200 people and nearly $60,000 raised last year.
"If we strive for education at its highest then we have to do the same with the auction," said Miriam Shpitsek, co-chair for the "Education at Its Highest" auction. Shpitsek's attendance benchmark is an extra 100 bodies. As far as dollars raised: "I don't want to put any limit on it," she said.
Shpitsek says the 5 p.m. live and silent auction at the DoubleTree Lloyd Center will be Maimonides' classiest event. A Jazz quartet playing hits from the Great American Song Book will accompany the $45 kosher dinner, during which attendees will have the opportunity to bid on a New York trip package, Hollywood memorabilia or a Tiffany & Co. bracelet.
A professional auctioneer from Seattle will officiate the proceedings, which also will include a Judaica section and a hot-air balloon ride.
"The importance of this auction is that it goes towards our scholarship fund," said Maimonides Director Devora Wilhelm, who estimates that nearly half of her student body receives a partial scholarship. "We try really hard to help everyone, but as time goes by the need grows."
Heidi Holmes is another co-chair and she is motivated by numerous reasons to see this annual event succeed, none more so than to enlighten misinformed community members who do not know there are two viable options in town for a Jewish education. A Portland Jewish Academy graduate who considers herself Reform and affiliated with Neveh Shalom, Holmes sent her son Ross to Maimonides.
"I'm very passionate about this school," said Holmes. "I am completely blown away with the commitment of the teachers."
One of Holmes' main agendas as organizer has been to make the auction more appealing to the mass Jewish community, without upsetting any of the Orthodox staffers or parents of Maimonides children.
A simple but effective example of this is how this year the trip or vacation packages will include Visa gift cards for dinner as opposed to pre-made reservations to a kosher eatery. The intent of this maneuver is to provide added freedom within the trip, hopefully making the package more desirable to a larger pool of prospective bidders.
Holmes and all the other Maimonides parents hope this year's pool for "Education at Its Chai'est" makes a big splash for Jewish education when the totals are accumulated.
"I am putting my blood, sweat and tears into this auction," said Holmes.
Reservations can be made by calling the school office at 503-977-7850.