Reader Submitted: I Hope The Aguda Makes More Than $10 MILLION

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I recently saw an article bemoaning the fact that the Agudah might make a tremendous amount of profit on the Siyum Hashas. The estimate was near 10 million. While I agree with the writer that they will make a profit, I actually hope they make more.

Let me explain.

Charity money can be used for important causes (Hatzolah is a good example) or not such important causes (giving money to save sea lions in Alaska). In addition, some charities are causes that people feel like giving to (the almanah with 10 yesomim), and some are hard to make people feel like giving to them (fundraising in Lakewood for shul being built in Arizona). It turns out that there are 4 possible combinations:

The charities in the first quadrant (important and feels good to donate), raise money relatively easily. Hatzolah is a good example, as is raising money for an almana and 10 yesomim.

Quadrant 2 (not important but feels good) doesn’t do too bad either. Despite these charities being not terribly important, they have found a way to make it feel good to donate to them. One good example is a famous breast cancer charity where investigations found that they only donated 15% of the money they raised to actual cancer research. Yet they are incredibly skilled marketers, spend a tremendous amount of money on advertising, and therefore raise an enormous amount of money. It feels good to donate to them even though the money that you’re giving to them is not actually used for important purposes. Most of it goes to paying executive salaries and for advertising.

We can safely ignore the 3rd quadrant (not important and doesn’t feel good), they have a difficult time raising money, but that’s fine because the money isn’t being used for anything important anyway.

It’s the 4th quadrant where things get tricky. These are causes that are incredibly important yet or difficult to sell from a PR perspective . Therefore these charities have an incredibly difficult time raising money, however they cannot stop what they’re doing as the work they do is absolutely vital.

I often think about what our country would look like if 9/11 had never happened. We can safely say things would be very different on many levels . Not only the families that lost lives, not only the Manhattan skyline, but the military operations that were taken, the money spent on security, the different inconveniences that we face because of the new focus on security, all of that would be drastically different.

But think about it. What if the United States had gotten intelligence about this potential terrorist plot sometime in advance and had denied the visas of the 20 hijackers. It might just be newsworthy enough to merit a 5-line column on page 20 of some small town newspaper. And yet, in importance it should be frontline news every day for years. 

And that’s because we don’t think about issues that never happen. We don’t celebrate heroes who prevent disasters that never took place. If it didn’t happen, we don’t know about it, we don’t think about it, and we don’t focus on it.

Now let’s take it a step further. Say the head of this department, who understood the potential of a 9/11, was looking to get more funding a year before 9/11 from Congress to help vet potential immigrants. You could imagine that it wouldn’t be as good as a sell as some other program that had more mindshare.

The only ethical and responsible thing for the head of that Department to do at that point would be to come up with a way to get the funding, perhaps using some other program, so this incredibly important program which would essentially be saving thousands and thousands of lives could go on.

The Agudah is that department. What do they do? Mainly, they avert disasters for the frum community. The problems they solve never actually happen. They keep up with all the potential legislation and legal action in the country to sniff out any and all potential legal nuclear bombs that would have incredible impacts on the frum community. Then they lobby in Washington and on the state level, file lawsuits, and do everything else necessary to to make sure that laws are written, passed, modified, edited, and decided in the courts in a way that benefits us and does not harm us.

What type of laws? Religious liberties in the workplace, end of life issues, funding for Yeshivos, civil rights as it pertains to religion, and a lot more.

You didn’t get fired from your job as an attorney even though you need to take off a million days for YomTov? Thank the Agudah.

Your tuition is only 8,000 instead of 12,000 because of federal and state funding? Thank the Agudah.

You can wear a yarmulke at work? Thank the Agudah.

The insurance company can’t deny funding for your zeides hospital stay after you refused to have the plug pulled even though they know there “is no point in him living any more”? Thank the Agudah.

And much much more.

But because the Agudah is quadrant 4 cause, it’s incredibly difficult for them to raise funds. Everyone I know gives money to Hatzolah, to Almanos and Yesomim, to meshulachim in shul, and even to random parlor meetings for niche tzadakos (peer pressure, Sushi and Glatt Byte, go a long way). Almost nobody I know gives money to the Agudah.

And as much as they try to give over the message, to advertise and explain what they do, it often falls on deaf ears. Because nobody wants to hear about a 9/11 that never happened. It just doesn’t register in our minds. Quadrant 4 is not a fun place to be.

Boruch Hashem, once every 7 years, the Agudah gets something which is exciting and where people do want to give money. And they leverage it to the hilt. Quite frankly, the vast majority of the profits come from wealthy people who are paying the 100k a box or $1800 for a padded club seat and some Kishke. These are people who can afford it, who want to pay for it, and are happy with what they are getting. And yet, without the siyum, they wouldn’t ever imagine giving a dime to the Agudah. This windfall is what keeps the lights on at the Agudah for the next 7 years. Lobbying and litigation is extremely expensive.

Many seats were sold for 25 or 36 dollars. The Agudah knows and realizes that the profit should come from those who can afford it! Could they make a program where misaymim are guaranteed a cheaper seats even after the cheap seats are gone? Can they do it smarter and better? Of course. There is always room for improvement.

But ultimately, as a quadrant 4 organization, the plan of wealthy people paying a premium so the Agudah can keep the lights on is a brilliant and necessary plan. It would actually be unethical not to seize the moment.

And that’s why I hope they make more than 10 million.

Yisrael Kleinman

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of GreaterLakewood.

25 COMMENTS

  1. To the letter writer:

    You missed the point.

    No one has a problem with the agudah raising funds.
    Let them make a dinner, or a bike-a-thon, etc.

    People have a problem with them presenting and marketing the siyum hashas as klal yisroels kiddush hashem that we all must attend, while in reality it’s a fundraising event.

    Call it what it is, and everyone will be happy.

    • Everyone knows that it’s a fundraiser…. If you wait for the last minute prices go up…. They have been advertising for months already, if not a year… there are no low prices seats available anymore. The stadium is built in a way that some seats have better views of the field and some bit so nice views. Should the Aguda give away big comfortable box seats for cheap prices… No… That’s how they will make 💰…

      Oh and btw I would love to see you there but you Do NOT have to go!

    • Thank you
      BTW I WISH AGUDAH WOULD ONLY SUPPORT
      POLITICIANS WHO HAVE A LITTLE RESPECT FOR MORAL VALUES OR ELSE THE NEXT SIYUM HASHAS (2027)
      WILL BE MIXED SEATING AND WORSE!!!!!!!!!!
      HEY CRITICIZE ME BUT I AM RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • @Isaac wrote “You missed the point. No one has a problem with the agudah raising funds.
      Let them make a dinner, or a bike-a-thon, etc.”
      seems You missed his point. or did not read what he wrote ” because the Agudah is quadrant 4 cause, it’s incredibly difficult for them to raise funds. Everyone I know gives money to Hatzolah, to Almanos and Yesomim, to meshulachim in shul, and even to random parlor meetings for niche tzadakos (peer pressure, Sushi and Glatt Byte, go a long way). Almost nobody I know gives money to the Agudah.”

      so make a dinner? they do an annual one , but read again “because the Agudah is quadrant 4 cause, it’s incredibly difficult ….”

  2. What does the Agudah do for the Daf Yomi throughout the cycle?

    We see from this siyum and in the past that the Agudah wakes up a year or two before the siyum and starts pretending to promote Daf Yomi the rest of the cycle they don’t do a thing to promote daf yomi.
    No one has a issue with Dirshu making money off of there siyum as they are constantly pumping money into programs for Daf yomi.
    I am not saying Agudah doeskin do any good I am saying they don’t seem to be around for the Daf Yomi except right before they siyum.

  3. To Isaac and everybody like Isaac Where’s the same thought process without giving a comment.
    He did not miss the point at all they make dinners they make conventions and yarchi kallas every single year and that is not enough cover an anormas budget. Just to make lawsuits etc.
    Besides the fact they’re not making 10 million for each section in the Talmud is sold for $1 million
    There are six of them. The $10 million is just off the private suits if they sell out. they are making at least 50 million not a penny less. and I believe that’s amazing because they can use a lot of money.
    Just the New York education argument probably could cost around $50 million.
    if you Like to start your own go for it make an a Like to start your own go for it make it in blue claws.
    Let’s just think for the Jackson and toms River people who they fighting for the Shul’s etc.

  4. This response was very well written and articulated. I hope it enlightened the initial letter writer and those who had similar feelings. While i’m sure there are many who still feel this is unjust, I know some as well who are getting more expensive seats as a way of supporting the Agudah, and all the important and unheralded important work that they do.

  5. Great point!

    Following this line of thinking, every reading this article should **at a minimum** reach out to Agudath Yisroel and become a member to enable them to represent us.

    We are living in very tumultuous times. We should all be doing whatever we can (al pi derech hateva) to enable our askanim to continue their shtadlanus on behalf of our community.

    If anyone has an online link to a membership signup page, please post in the comments for us to sign up.

  6. They need to make more seats available, at a reasonable price. Better yet sell seats for $10 and $18. Let it be in a Lakewood school. Who cares where and a basement in monsey. Just a place where poor families can be part if it. “BE CAREFUL WITH THE CHILDREN OF THE POOR PEOPLE, IT IS FROM THEM TORAH WILL COME FROM” Agudah should be familiar with this quote after all they learn shas.

  7. Sounds like an Agudah mouthpiece wrote this letter. You don’t sacrifice the siyum by commercializing it inorder to raise funds to spread more Torah. Hashem has enough ways to fund the Agudah, this is an embarrassment that will make it ever harder for the Agudah to raise money in the future.

  8. This article was written very well. The only point where I really hear the argument of the other article was that the misaymim themselves, and their immediate families, should have a right to attend without paying hundreds of dollars. I believe that was the main point of the other article. But for everyone else (which includes me) I don’t see an issue with it being a fund-raising event.

  9. TORAH IS NOT FOR SALE!!! This event is for us wealthy people. When there will be enough buyers at $500 or $1000 a seat they wont have any at the lower prices. Yes, Agudah needs the money!! lots of it!! tens of millions!! they do good work. They need to raise funds like every other organization. they are blinded by their need for money. They need to hire young marketers and fundraisers that under stand todays young generation of philanthropist. There is so much money to be had. To the talented letter writer you are old school! use your talent to be creative and help Agudah raise funds. I can give you a ton of ideas, for One the new kids with money like to party. they are ready to pay for it. Every organization is doing it. Think Boat rides, exotic vacations. Biking Etc. the money is here to be had you just need to understand how to get it. My prediction Agudah will lose control of the syium. with time the real Lomdim wont show up and they will be left with a stadium full of wealthy Balay Batem. People who can bearly even say kaddish. Lets face it very few people have Torah and Gedulah. written lezecher nishmas esther blima bas reb yichiel Michel hakohen. a woman who left behind a torah family that actually not only learns Torah but live with the hashkofa of the torah as well.

    • Why will they care if the lomdim leave? as long as the stadium is full and they can plapell about the kidush hashem, they have no regrets.

      My problem with the siyum hashas is the hijacking of holy jewish terminology. Kidush hashem does not mean full stadiums, and it is a linguistic and conceptual travesty to use the term for tha.

  10. I was under the impression that all funds profited through the siyum were dedicated to the Torah learning commission of the agudah, – to promote learning, and not any other vital things the agudah does.

  11. a few takeaways i have been following the ads & inside scoop very closely …here is whats going on
    1. aguda does a lot of good yet the average frum yid FEELS NO CONNECTION.
    2. AGUDA knows this & has desperatly tried to fix it w/ minimal success
    3. being in mid winter , people expecting to watch it live from their living room ( and dirshu in the backround didnt help)
    4. the seat sales began at the worst time possible .mid august right into sep, school yomtov…
    90,000 tickets is not alot at all ( i myself bought 22) klal yisroel is huge .
    5. i bet most people in your shul didnt buy tickets
    there are lessons to be learned from the new reality both as a community and as individuals i am not an agudist but it bothers me that there are plenty in the yeshiva world that will call rav shmuel.. or reb dovid shlita… yet wont give a dollar to their aguda? what happened

  12. you sound like a shoitah. the article was bemoaning the fact that he, a mesayem, will not be able to attend the siyum. which is, a very very big problem. theres no explanation for it. they should be making killions at the expense of the masaymim. i`m sure he wouldnt care if agudah would be raising billions as long as its not wrongfully affecting him. yu are fighting your imagination.

    • joe you confused 2 diff letters your comment belongs on the other letter
      any mesayam that truly cant afford a ticket i have 2 extra ones

      • yitzchak the misayem truly cant afford tickets to the siyum hashas. i`m surprised you havent read his letter submitted on GL yet but i`m sure GL would put yu in contact with him.

  13. Come on. This is not about the misaymim, as much as they would like for it to be. Surely, there will be many, many. many misaymim at met life stadium, but, this is not about making a siyum. do that with your chavrusah, chaburah, shiur or whoever you learn with on shabbos, or motsai shabbos. How many of those honored to make the siyum and say the hadran at past siyumin actually learned daf yomi? How many of those who sit at the dais actually learn daf yomi? Half? Is there a special seating section up front, or on the lower dais for those who give a daf yomi shiur? Why cant people grow up. Why does everyone always think, its about me, and I’m still priced out of it. its NOT ABOUT YOU.

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