Thursday, April 29, 2010

Around Town: Adat Ari El Auction

Around Town: A sacred auction discovery

By Thursday night, the online bids were coming fast and furious. The purpose? To support the Adat Ari El Sisterhood Tea and raise money for the synagogue’s school.

By then, it was just the three of us: me, my dog Miss Audrey Hepburn and my credit card.

Despite such auspicious beginnings, I was not relaxed.

In fact, I was frustrated. Frustrated at being outbid (online) for a round of golf at the beautiful El Caballero Country Club with the synagogue president.

Frustrated at being outbid (online) by someone with fingernails for the Opi Gift Basket, valued at $550, which featured assorted lotions, 42 OPI lacquers including the complete South Beach, EspaƱa and the latest Hong Kong collections, Nail Envy, pedicure products, cuticle oil and other stuff.

Frustrated . . . even though I still bite my nails.

That’s when I decided to browse the entire website. Bidding For Good is an online auction site devoted to nonprofit organizations of every size and type. Anyone can bid, provided they are registered. There are hundreds of auctions on the site, from charities, schools, churches and synagogues all over the country.

I saw trips to New York and Washington, D.C., kosher meals delivered in Seattle, and baseball tickets at every venue in America.

Suddenly, I noticed familiar names. Conrad’s, Dish, Divina Cucina, Los Gringos Locos, Georgee’s Pizza, Dolce Mango, Beckham Place, Bella Serra, Black Cow. They were all there, online, along with Oceanview Bistro and Pinks Hotdogs.

Suddenly, I understood.

Oh my gosh, I said to Miss Hepburn. It’s the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy online auction!

I immediately noticed the differences, both religious and secular, between the auctions for Adat Ari El and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy.

The first difference was procedural. The Adat Ari El Synagogue auction closed last Friday morning, with the live event (High Tea with Rabbi Elianna) held last Sunday, but the FSHA auction is still going strong as we speak. Their event (La Joie de Vivre Gala) will be May 3.

There were also subtle substantive differences. For Adat Ari El, I bid on the Johnny Walker Blue Label Scotch, but for Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, it was a 2002 Merus Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2001 Altesino ’Montesoli’ Brunello di Montalcino and a 2005 Justin ‘Isosceles!’

I need them all, I said to Miss Hepburn.

Just then, my husband walked by.

Whatcha doing? he asked.

Nothing, I said.

Back at the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy auction, I saw two innovative categories. “Teach-a-Tolog” allows parents to bid on internships for their kids. “Flintridge Festivities” includes parties to which bidders can purchase individual attendance instead of an entire party package.

And at the Adat Ari El auction, bidding had closed on VIP tickets to Dancing with the Stars.

Afterward, I got in touch with Charlotte Saydah, the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy special events manager. She explained that this is their fifth year augmenting their gala with the online auction site.

“I’m proud to say we were one of the first in the area,” Saydah told me. “I’ve been involved with it from the beginning, and we’ve grown every year. It’s a great way to reach out to an extended community and publicize an upcoming event at the same time.”

Back online, I continued to click. It’s a game called “auction roulette.” Anyone can play. You never know where you’ll end up or what you’ll get to take home. It’s all good.

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