A Beth El fundraiser

by | Jun 23, 2017 | What’s Happening

Sunday, July 9, 10 am

Just as Hans Christian Andersen’s Rumpelstiltzken spun straw into gold for the miller’s daughter, every year Congregation Beth El spins its members’ gently used clothing, jewelry, and other items into funds to support the synagogue’s operations. In fact, Beth El’s annual summer rummage sale is now an institution and one of its major fundraisers.

Nancy Kanter, a one-woman dynamo and Beth El member for many years, has headed this shopping event for the past 15 years. The three-day sale is highly anticipated by its regular customers. Many even return each of the three days to take advantage of the daily lowering of prices. Prior to Kanter taking over the sale, Marlene Rossen and Vivian Simon, who started the garage sale as a fundraiser, ran them for the first few years.

A natural for the project, Kanter has a lifetime of experience and knowledge of the market as a collector of antiques and jewelry and as a lover and devotee of shopping at yard sales. She has an artful eye and a love of the hunt.

The sale’s categories include clothing for all ages, fine china, glassware, silver, tableware, lamps, toys, furniture, books, electronics, rugs, household items, and collectibles of all sorts.

This event involves the time and effort of many people, including the entire membership’s cooperation to donate the goods. After all, without the congregants’ donations, there is no rummage sale and, therefore, no funds raised.

Goods are collected all year long and stored until two weeks before the sale. That’s when the large group of faithful Beth El volunteers unpack and unload all donations, moving them to Myers Hall.

It takes hours of unloading before making the selections and rejections of the merchandise. Taking the center of the hall—and the real showcase of the sale— are antiques, fine china, silver, glassware, lamps, fine collectibles, and kitchenware. This area is artfully arranged and is what customers see first when entering the room. Stationed around the antiques are walkways leading to the other departments. Jewelry is positioned at the front of the room where it can be carefully monitored and controlled.

Kanter’s co-chairmen are Gail Miller, Cilda Meltzer, Lei Lei Berz, and Scott Orlins. The three days of the sale are the most fun for the workers. Waiting on customers, socializing with each other, making sales, and adding up the profits, are the congregants’ rewards for all the hard work.

In the fairy tale, Rumpelstiltzken used his talent for spinning straw into gold for nefarious purposes, but the Beth El crew works tirelessly to turn Beth El members’ rummage into gelt for the good of the congregation.

– Jeanne Marcus