I have no idea how it started, but if you’re a Jewish organization worth it’s weight in leftover cholent it seems you have to put on some kind of Chinese Auction every year. It has been this way for some time, I definitely remember sitting on the toilet in Subsational some years ago – reading some glossy Chinese Auction catalog and where I would debate if I should enter into the raffle for the Georgie Wigs package, shopping trip to LA or brand new freezer for the garage. Truth is I have never entered a Chinese Auction, as poor as I am and as much maaser money that I owe, I was turned off by the fact that the auctions offered ticket deals – skewing the results. Most of them offer bulk ticket discounts and some even offer “prizes” for buying a certian amount and that never seemed like a winning thing.
So when NCSY emailed me the other day with a special offer for Bloggers, I only opened the email because it was sent by Chana of The Curious Jew (similar to the way Gil Student won’t link my blog, she is an infrequent reader, but won’t link me and that’s perfectly cool – the age of the blogroll is dead) so I opened it and was offered something (not cash of – last time I got a T-shirt) to post about the NCSY Chinese Auction I have to be honest when I’m getting something for writing a post, but I also have to be honest with you folks that I think Jewish organizations need to think outside the box and a Chinese Auction is anything but.
So like every other Chinese Auction the NCSY is typical, you can split the pot, win the jackpot, get a trip to Israel (and a bunch of places like NY, LA and Miami – that I have no interest on going unless I have to) a new washing machine, a macbook and ipod, minivan lease, some ostentatious ritual silver, new dining room sets and the ever present sheitle and seforim sets. It’s also interesting to look at different organizations and what they are raffling off, I always though of the OU as a modern orthodox thing, but clearly, based on their offerings in the NCSY Chinese Auction they have tried to go after a more heimishe crowd.
I do admit that reading Chinese Auction magazines is like shopping for the right slot machine during my few times in a casino and like shopping for the right slot machine I usually never actually sit down, I prefer to watch the old white trash ladies chain smoking their menthols and pulling the levers mechanically than waste my money on such foolishness. The thing is, the money given to Chinese Auctions is usually a good cause and so I the few times I have been inclined to give something, winning was not at the forefront of my conscious, succumbing to clever marketing tactics was.
If you want to give me money, free stuff, dinner or something else to post about your organization or product – I can do it as long as I like the thing you’re trying to sell and if I could make a not necessarily in agreement post about it.