By COLlive reporter
Workshops and sessions during an annual conference can get boring and very technical when speakers keep a monotone voice and deliver their message in an academic-like language.
Lectures at the Kinus Hashuchim tend to be more lively, such as when you have communications expert Jeff Ansell mimicking how the media misquotes a rabbi or when Sacramento Shliach Rabbi Mendel Cohen talks about practically anything.
But then you have someone who takes things a step ahead – or some will say a jump back in time, to the days in summer camp.
On Thursday, businessman Mendel Duchman of Los Angeles put up a part-comedy skit to teach the Shluchim various tips and practical methods to create a successful pitch to reach your fundraising goals.
Surrounded by real-life office props, Duchman played the Shliach beginning a standard workday, while Rabbi Sholom Simon of Brooklyn and Rabbi Avraham Rapport of New Jersey played different types of donors.
Duchman, who was once a shliach himself, said that before he left to New York for the convention he was told by a friend “good luck with teaching the ‘shnorers’,” (a somewhat derogatory term for fundraisers).
“If he was not 10 years my senior, I would have considered slapping him,” he said bluntly. “What we are looking for are not merely donations, it’s about partnering and becoming involved.”
Amongst the large crowd that filled the room in the Eden Palace in Williamsburg were Rabbi Leibel Wolf of Australia, Rabbi Yosef Zaltzman of Toronto, Rabbi Leivi Sudak of England and Duchman’s brother Rabbi Sholom Duchman, head of Collel Chabad.
The first act was of a shliach who just moved to his shlichus city and is meeting with a CEO of a fiber optics firm and president of the local Reform temple.
During the comical skit – high-lighting differences and panic thoughts of the new shliach – Mendel Duchman explained the idea of empowering the community and reaching out to the unaffiliated.
He ended the act with declining a check – explaining that the stage of cultivation comes before the steps of Prospects and Solicitation.
Some of the prize slogans said during other acts were “we operate lean and mean with low overhead,” and “the Afikoman prize at the Pesach seder is getting a Chabad House.”
But the main lesson Shluchim got from the session was Duchman’s favorite Russian word “Padyom!” (which also decorates the front of his baseball cap).
Duchman struggled when he was asked by COLlive to translate or explain its meaning.
“If it rains, put on boots,” was his first attempt.
“It means go! Move on to the next step – no obstacles,” was his second try.
Shluchim who attended the session said they understood Padyom and Duchman’s message as a push to get things done.
“When a Shliach needs to fundraise and spends time contemplating and feeling uncomfortable – when the time comes it’s harder to just go for it,” a Shliach in Canada said.
Duchman would have loved to explain further, but a shliach in the Tri-State area interrupted with an urgent request.
“How do I fundraise another $200,000 within the next 24 hours for the mortgage of our building?”
Duchman is seen taking the Shliach to the side and helping him as he has done for over 150 shluchim in recent years.