Thursday, 23 February 2012

Value of its property was halved through rezoning

Banking on a diamond

February 8, 2012 ·
CHABAD House of North Shore was dealt a cruel blow late last year when the value of its property was halved through rezoning but now it is bringing out the big guns – with internationally acclaimed business speaker Kivi Bernhard set to headline its annual fundraiser dinner – to try and avoid what could become a consider- able financial problem.

The son of a renowned South African rabbi, Bernhard relocated to the United States with little more than $860 in the bank and went on to build a multimillion-dollar wholesale diamond business. Most recently, he rose to fame with his business book Leopardology – The Hunt for Profit in a Tough Global Economy.
Now, the observant Jew and regular Fortune 500 speaker is promising to discuss his unique journey at the shul’s dinner on February 23.

“To find an Orthodox Jew standing on the platform of Fortune 500s in front of thousands of people literally all over the world at global conferences, is rather unusual,” the Atlanta-based Bernhard told The AJN.
Special considerations such as observing kashrut and Shabbat and praying three times a day are just the start. Once, while appearing at a conference in Dubai, he had to hire a security team to escort him while walking through the streets wearing a yarmulke.

But while some may perceive his observance as an obstacle, he said it was just the opposite. “We have this notion that we are looking at the entire world and [its] compass to set true north. The fact of the matter is, the world is actually looking at ours. They are looking to the Jew for integrity, honesty, refinement of character and … business ethic.”

Organisers hope Bernhard’s inspirational story will draw in the crowds – and dollars – after a tough year financially. In August, a court ruled the shul’s $6 million St Ives property – which had initially doubled in value because of new zoning – could not be rezoned due to a procedural error. The decision drastically downgraded the value of the three-hectare property.

“The original hope was that we would get enough donations to pay down the debt significantly, or sell parts [of the property]. Right now, we can’t sell parts,” said the centre’s Rabbi Rabbi Nochum Schapiro.
He said the shul was working with council to get the rezoning back on track. “Our understanding from council is that there’s no reason to think that we will not get the zoning once again,” he said.
For more information on North Shore Chabad’s fundraising dinner, email

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