Forward Thinking

Heaven Can Wait for $100K Jewish eBay Guy

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

  • Print
  • Share Share
Ari Mandel

Ari Mandel says heaven can wait, eBay can keep its rules — and one deep-pocketed online bidder can keep his or her $100,000.

The Jewish man who sparked a frenzied day of bidding by auctioning off a prime spot in heaven — a spiral that reached six figures before the online giant shut it down — insists the whole thing was a big joke.

“Disappointed? No. It was a joke that ran away from me, and sure, why not?” said Mandel, 31, of Teaneck, N.J. “When it reached $100,000 I didn’t really expect to get that money.”

“It was nice to fantasize,” he added. “But I didn’t think it was going to happen.”

Mandel said he had no idea his auction would turn into an internet sensation.

“I’m not a master prankster,” he said. “This idea just popped in my head and I jumped on it.”

Some in the ultra-Orthodox world apparently believed he was mocking their faith. But Mandel says his auction, which was peppered with references to Yiddish phrases and referred to common Jewish beliefs, was a good-natured joke.

“To those of you who took this seriously, chill out. It was just a joke,” he said. “Whether or not you’re a believer in this sort of thing, chill out.”

Mandel was raised in an ultra-Orthodox community in upstate New York but left the community about seven years ago. He is now a divorced father of one child and a student who works as a part-time translator.

He posted “My Portion in Olam Habaah (Heaven)” on eBay Tuesday morning asking for an opening bid of a modest 99 cents.

He explained that he was sure to secure a spot in the hereafter because of his good deeds carried out over the years. He even offered to return the successful bidder’s cash if he fell off the wagon.

Within a few hours, people were bidding several dollars. Then hundreds of dollars. Then, things really got crazy. In a frenzied hour late in the afternoon, the top bid skyrocketed to $99,900.

Around the same time, eBay started getting complaints from people offended by the auction. As Mandel understands it, ultra-Orthodox internet users posted the item on online bulletin boards, sparking anger in the community.

“There were countless people offended,” Mandel said. “People sent me screen shots of people having reported it.”

An eBay representative called Mandel to inform him that the auction violated a rule prohibiting putting “non-tangible” items up for bids. The site warned him not to try to repost the item, and pulled down the listing from its web site.

Within seconds, the $100,000 bid was gone and what looked like a six-figure bonanza turned into a internet mirage.

Mandel says he’s not upset about losing out on a big payday.

“I had fun while it lasted, you know? It was just a little gag,” he said. “Kept me busy for a day.”

As for the ultimate question, Mandel says he has no idea who might have bid $100,000 for his little slice of Jewish heaven.

“I have no clue,” he said. “I didn’t have time to go into eBay all day, I was too busy talking to people here and everywhere else on the internet.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: internet, heaven, ebay, ari mandel, jewish

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.