Chabad jewelry auction is legitimate fundraiser


POSTED: Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Question: I have received postcards advertising a “;Public Jewelry Auction”; featuring “;Seized Assets from IRS & Narcotic Dealers.”; It says the auctions are for the benefit of Chabad of Hawaii. Are these auctions legitimate?

Answer: Rabbi Itchel Krasnjansky of Chabad of Hawaii says the auctions are on the up and up and meant as fundraisers for the Jewish nonprofit organization.

The auctions are run “;by people that we know who are affiliated with Chabad in California,”; he said. “;They come here and do auctions for the benefit of Chabad.”;

He said the jewelry was purchased through various sources, including government auctions of seized property.

Krasnjansky said that the organization began holding auctions about four to five years ago with a different gallery. However, when that partnership didn't work, Chabad of Hawaii was left with thousands of dollars of merchandise. Now, “;we're basically trying to recoup whatever moneys we have lost,”; he said. Once that happens, Krasnjansky said, the organization will look to other kinds of fundraisers.

In trying to find information about the auction, we discovered there are state and county laws requiring auctioneers to be licensed — but only for public auctions. In Honolulu the city issues the license.

Dennis Kamimura, administrator of the city Motor Vehicle and Licensing Division, says Chapter 445 of the Hawaii Revised Statues and Chapter 41 of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu are “;very specific. They would not apply to private auctions.”;

Krasnjansky said that the city's regulations don't pertain to Chabad's auction because they are held for the benefit of a charity and are by invitation only.

Although the postcards say “;public jewelry auction,”; he said they are only mailed to certain people and are not advertised to the general public.

If anyone has a question or complaint about any auction, Kamimura said they should contact police.

Question: Would you please tell us about the lovely metal gazebo mauka of the Honolulu Zoo at the intersection of Paki, Monsarrat and Leahi avenues? It looks really old. It appears to be of solid steel construction in the form of a dome, with wire lattice attached. It also has four doorway arches, covered with beautiful purple-pink bougainvillea.

Answer: You might be disappointed to find out that there's really nothing special or significant about that structure.

Parks staff believe it was made by workers at Queen Kapiolani Garden “;long ago to add some character to the garden,”; said Lester Chang, director of the city Department of Parks and Recreation. “;No one currently knows who or when other than it's been there awhile.”;

Workers from the department's Urban Forestry Division recently added wire mesh to the structure to give the bougainvillea support.

Chang said it probably was placed there many years ago to accommodate the bougainvillea.

“;I commend the staff member who took the initiative to place the wire mesh to maximize the bougainvillea's growth so many can enjoy the beauty of that garden,”; he said.

Queen Kapiolani Garden, established in 1972, used to be a rose garden but now features hibiscus and native Hawaiian plants.

Write to “;Kokua Line”; at Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).