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Devout Atheist Goes Hasidic For Charity

Of his pledge to observe one more Sabbath for charitable donations, Ari Mandel says, “I’m game, as long as you dish out the shekels”

By: Brittany Lauton
Published: November 1st, 2013 in News » World
Ari Mandel

It’s tough to fundraise these days.

With every band and short film producer soliciting donations on Indiegogo and Kickstarter, how does an atheist marathoner raise funds? By turning back to religion, that’s how.

Ari Mandel left the Orthodox Jewish community and the Nikolsbug Hasidic sect in Rockland County, New York without looking back when he was 24.

On his blog, Confessions of a Koifer, Mandel writes that he “went from being a ma’amin to a koifer b’ikor, from a true believer to an atheist … from listening to Lipa Schmeltzer to listenting to Linkin Park.”

Surprisingly though, the now-atheist has agreed to observe one more Sabbath, and it will earn him at least $1000.

Mandel, who goes by the name Rachmuna Litzon on Facebook and Twitter, stumbled upon the religious payday completely by accident.

With the goal of raising money for Chai Lifeline, a charity working to help children with life-threatening illnesses, Mandel signed up for the Jerusalem Marathon and took to Twitter to ask for donations.

“If each one of you donated just $1.00 right now, I would be done bugging you,” he tweeted with a link to his marathon fundraising site.

Luckily for Mandel, @efif1 tweeted back: “@HeathenHassid I’ll donate 10 if you keep next Shabbos.”

@efif1’s tweet prompted Mandel to solicit Facebook to ask how much followers would pay to see Mandel go back to the synagogue.

That’s where Isaac Mavorah came in. The negotiation between the two, determining how much it would cost Mavorah to get Mandel back into the church, garnered 103 comments on Facebook and ended with the two settling on $1000.

Mandel was a hit. An anonymous donor gave $500 to Mandel’s cause, and the donations poured in.

Team Mandel has since surpassed its original goal of $4,500, and is now hoping to raise $99,900.

“Make this one Shabbos as Jewy and holy as you possibly can,” Mandel announced on Facebook, “I’m game, as long as you dish out the shekels.”

Related articles: Jewish News, Chai Lifeline, Charity, Sabbath, Atheist, Religious, Kosher, Kickstarter, Crowdsource, Chai Lifeline
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