Rothstein's Spending Swagger Went All the Way to Temple

On Yom Kippur a couple of years ago, Downtown Jewish Center Chabad Rabbi Schneur Kaplan did something decidedly unorthodox.

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Kimberly, Scott, and Rabbi Schneur Kaplan.
During services on that holiest day of the year, he announced that he was auctioning off the aliyahs in an attempt to raise money for a new chabad he was building.

The bidding went around the room, with people bidding $200 or $300. Then it came around to Scott Rothstein.

"One thousand times chai," Rothstein said.

Chai is 18, the holiest Jewish number. So Rothstein bought the aliyah -- basically the honor of standing at the bima when the Torah is open and read -- for $18,000.

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Rothstein and Ovi Levy at chabad grand opening.
Also in attendance was Ovadia "Ovi" Levy, Rothstein's friend and business partner in the Renato watch company (I'm also told that he, like Rothstein, drove a $1.5 million Bugatti Veyron). Sources have told me that Levy and his family invested as much as $14 million in Rothstein's Ponzi scheme (when I contacted Levy, he refused to comment).

"One thousand times chai," Levy said.

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Between the two of them, Rothstein and Levy bought all the aliyahs, said an attendee at the chabad that day. "Rothstein must have dropped over $100,000 that day alone," said the source.

Since the recent grand opening of the new chabad on Broward Boulevard near Las Olas, both Rothstein and Levy have their name on the building.

You can see more pictures of the grand opening here.  

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