$18m dollars raised for Israel by one New York synagogue

Park Avenue synagogue in Manhattan raised the huge sum in just 24 hours


Park Avenue Synagogue in NY raised $18m for Israel after its rabbi told congregants to take out their phones and donate during Saturday's Shabbat service.

Elliot Cosgrove, of the Upper East Side synagogue, told members to scan a QR code on their Shabbat pamphlets to donate to New York’s Israel Emergency Fund.

By Sunday, the synagogue had raised £17,778,160, but further pledges were expected to push them over the $18m target.

Rabbi Cosgrove overruled the prohibition on using smartphones on Shabbat by applying the rabbinic principle of pikuach nefesh, the idea that saving a life trumps strict observance of the Sabbath.

He said: “I have two goals for this moment: both audacious, both doable. First, I want 100%. Second: I want 18 million dollars.

“Everyone take out your phones. We can do this. Our task is to move from what is in your pocket to the campaign

“If you have already given to another organization, thank you, God bless you, now take out your phone.

“The eyes of history are upon us. What you are doing now will be remembered by your children and your children’s children. It’s a life-giving pledge.

“I have been humbled by people's generosity.”

Rabbi Cosgrove also encouraged those watching at home on a livestream to donate and the QR code flashed up on the screen. His own family donated $36,000. 

The congregation had already raised £16m for the Israel Emergency Fund by the time Rabbi Cosgrove made his Friday night appeal. In total the campaign has raised more than $75m for residents in Southern Israel, hospitals, soldiers and their families, and humanitarian services for Bedouins and Arab Israelis.

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