TORONTO (JTA) — A synagogue in suburban Montreal picked up nearly $25,000 thanks to the provincial lottery and some generous congregants.
Fourteen members of the Young Israel of Chomedey recently won a lottery prize of $363,450 and, per an earlier agreement, gave a share of the winnings to the congregation. That means $24,230 went into the synagogue’s coffers.
The money was sorely needed. In October 2010, the Young Israel was vandalized when a water hose was inserted into the building’s outdoor oil pipe and hundreds of gallons of heating oil were pumped onto the synagogue’s property. The cleanup took seven months and cost $70,000 to $75,000, most of which was covered by donations from members, non-members, strangers and even a local Catholic church. The synagogue and surrounding community narrowly averted an environmental disaster.
"In light of our near-disaster and the good fortune this year, someone seems to be watching over us," Young Israel President Frank Cwilich told JTA.
Several years ago, some synagogue regulars formed the "Morning Minyan-Aires" club and began playing the Quebec lottery as a group.
"From the beginning, the objective was that if there was going to be a significant prize, an equal share would go to the shul," Cwilich said.
One morning this summer, "one of the guys came running to services. He just heard we picked six out of seven numbers, plus the bonus number," Cwilich recalled. "Some of us had to be convinced that this was not some practical joke."
In fact, the winning ticket was one digit away from the number that would have won the jackpot of $50 million.
"But we can’t complain," Cwilich said. "We’re very grateful for what we got."
The group continues to play the lottery, he said, noting that attendance at morning minyan has increased of late.