MANHASSET, N.Y. — A Long Island synagogue congregation that didn’t want its cantor to feel lonely during the celebration of the Jewish New Year took a page from the New York Mets, ordering cutouts to be placed in the seats before Friday’s services.
Marvin and Barbara Schaffer, active members of The Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore, came up with the idea in the late summer.
“Just to have smiling faces looking back at them, I thought it would be a fun thing,” Marvin Schaffer said about Cantor Eric Schullmiller and Musical Director Solomon Hoffman, who will be running “virtual” services during the High Holidays, which begin Friday evening with Rosh Hashanah.
Schaffer and his wife, Barbara—who sings in the choir—are die-hard Mets fans, and both liked seeing the cutouts in the Citi Field seats during the abbreviated baseball season.
“Even though nobody was in the stands, it brought a little levity to Citi Field,” Marvin Schaffer observed.
Another synagogue member, Carrie Klimerman, made some phone calls and learned the Mets got their cutouts from Print Station in New Hyde Park.
Barbara Schaffer turned the idea into a fundraiser for the congregation.
“We charged $54 for adults and $36 for children and pets,” Schaffer said.
“We have two or three dogs in the seats.”
Marvin Schaffer called the effort a FUNdraiser.
The couple sold 117 cutouts and donated about $4,500 to the synagogue.
“It really also has become a community builder,” Barbara Schaffer said.
Happy “Cut Out” New Year! LI synagogue takes page from @NewYorkMets and puts cut-out congregants in seats for #RoshHashanah, including children and dogs. Idea raised $4,500. Virtual service will have pre-recorded music. @AJC @PIX11News pic.twitter.com/yNENJ7zuzX— Mary Murphy (@MurphyPIX) September 18, 2020
For those keeping count, this is Jewish New Year 5781.
Marvin Schaffer said they used the lucky number “18”—represented by the chai—to come up with a price for the cutouts.
“18 times two is 36,” he said, “so that’s what we charged for the children and dogs.”
“18 times three is 54, so that’s what we charged the adults.”
The congregation included a cutout of Mordecai Kaplan, founder of Reconstructing Judaism, in the seats, along with Rabbi Emeritus Ira Eisenstein and his wife, Judith Kaplan Eisenstein, who celebrated the first Bat Mitzvah in American history.