Years ago, when Rabbi Martin Scharf’s son was in Cub Scouts, the organization needed someone to serve as an auctioneer for the Scouts’ cake auction. Little did Scharf know that he’d then begin a career of auctioneering at nonprofit events to raise money for a variety of causes.
“From the cake auction, I began auctioneering for various nonprofit events in Illinois, which is where we were at the time,” Scharf said. “I guess I got a reputation for it because calls kept coming in from different organizations.”
Scharf is perhaps best known locally for his role as the rabbi for the Kivel Campus of Care, where he worked from 1994 until his retirement in 2012. Not one to take retirement sitting down, though, he is still active in Kivel’s holiday services and other lifecycle events.
A supporter of many Valley nonprofits, Scharf has donated his time as an auctioneer for Family Promise of Greater Arizona, Pardes Jewish Day School, UMOM New Day Centers, Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center, Church of the Beatitudes, Hospice of the Valley, American Cancer Society, Leukemia and Lymphoma Association, Duet: Partners in Health & Aging, and others.
“I support many organizations and nonprofits, both Jewish and non-Jewish in affiliation,” Scharf said. “Auctioneering really is a lot of fun, I have a good time doing it, and I think the event attendees can tell that I love it.”
He added that, even though he’s been auctioneering for years, he often still gets apprehensive before fundraising events.
“I want to make sure that event attendees have a good time and that I make them laugh,” Scharf said. “I hope that I make it fun, but the main goal is always to raise decent funds for whatever organization the auction is for. You never know how you’re going to do.”
One upcoming event that Scharf is auctioneering for is the 36th Annual Duet Cabaret on April 30 at Omni Resort & Spa at Montelucia. The event supports Duet, a local nonprofit with the mission of promoting health and well-being through a broad range of services to older and homebound adults who need one-on-one support.
Scharf has been involved with Duet for more than two decades, offering support in a variety of capacities.
“Words are insufficient to describe the impact Rabbi Scharf has had through 22-plus years of service with Duet,” said Elizabeth Banta, executive director of Duet. “He has changed lives through service as vice president of Duet’s board of directors, chairing conferences and providing wise guidance. He serves as our auctioneer extraordinaire at Duet Cabaret – a signature fundraiser for our cause. In addition, Rabbi Scharf and his wife, Roberta, make a difference as generous donors and members of the Duet Legacy Circle. I am deeply grateful to him for his many contributions that bring help and hope to people in need.”
Scharf, who has been the Duet Cabaret auctioneer for more than 15 years, said he connected with the organization through a fellow Jewish member of the Duet board.
“I’ve always found Duet’s mission fulfilling, exciting and necessary, and it’s exciting to watch them as they’re in a wonderful period of growth right now,” he added. “It’s an honor to help raise funds for them.”
When it comes to the Duet Cabaret, in addition to the auction itself, Scharf remarked that he loves the music too, which this year features the upbeat tunes performed by The Swingtips.
“Being an auctioneer at the Duet Cabaret has just been one of my ways of giving back to Duet over all these years,” he said. “I appreciate their four service areas – family caregivers, homebound adults, grandparents raising grandkids and nurses in faith communities – and their caring staff.”
Beyond his auctioneering talents and philanthropic giving, Scharf has been married for 48 years to Roberta, and the couple have two grown children and two grandchildren.