Special Police Hired To Combat Rosh Hashanah Ticket Scalping
New York, NY — Rosh Hashanah may not be on the radar for many Jews at this time of year, but that hasn’t deterred Temple Yawahna Bet’s Worship Committee from hiring ten new ushers, all of them former police officers with extensive HHSS (High Holiday Scam Squad) experience. Their mission: to minimize the scalping of Rosh Hashanah tickets, a rapidly growing problem, which ultimately forces the victims of the scam to pay significantly greater than retail prices to sit through High Holiday services.
In the past, keeping tabs on ticket scalpers required no special training. Offenders were generally the elderly, snowbirds who planned to depart for Florida to avoid the drudgery and deprivation of High Holiday services. As most people on fixed incomes, these seniors saw no ethical restriction against turning a small profit on tickets that would otherwise go unused.
The problem now is that these snowbirds are leaving for their winter homes even earlier than normal, well before the scalping season officially begins. As a result, they are enlisting the help of their children and grandchildren to scalp tickets. More often that not, these transactions are done during the final moments before services commence, when demand is highest.
Thus, while the elderly ticket-holders are off in search of early snowbird specials, temple police are forced to grapple with their quicker and stronger offspring. “It’s just not as easy to wrestle a fifty year old to the ground as it is an eighty year old,” said Mel Epstein, who heads up the anti-scalping taskforce at Temple Yawahna Bet. “And twenty-five year olds? Forget about it. That’s definitely a two person job.”
Still, Epstein was optimistic about minimizing the scalping and, therefore, the exploitation of those already facing an aggressive Yom Kippur appeal. “I could go out on a limb here and say this whole ticket scalping business is unforgivable,” said Epstein. He then smiled philosophically. “But at this time of year, you’re supposed to forgive people, right?”
Furthermore, within this dark cloud of illegal activity during Rosh Hashanah, Epstein does see a silver lining. “Two years ago I tackled a ninety-five year old lady and broke her hip,” he said. This year, he figures the worst that could happen is a scalper ending up with a few bumps and bruises.