Hebrew Center revamps lecture series ticket policy in wake of chaos


The Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center officials said they will institute new entrance procedures to prevent a recurrence of the confusion that took place last Thursday night at the kickoff of the Summer Institute lecture series.

Doreen Kinsman of Vineyard Haven said she was one of many people in an unanticipated long line waiting patiently in line to hear journalist and author Jeffrey Toobin speak about the Supreme Court. In a phone conversation with the Times Tuesday, she described the “shocking behavior” of those around her.

She explained that a mob mentality ensued after a woman beckoned her friends near the back of the line to come inside where she had saved seats for them. As those friends headed for the door, Ms. Kinsman said, “people began charging, with no thought to anyone else who was waiting in an orderly fashion and waiting their turn.”

“Everyone decided that chaos was the better way to go,” she said, “Nothing is worth that. Where is your dignity? Where is your compassion for people in front of you?”

Ms. Kinsman expressed her shock at what she witnessed in a Letter to the Editor published in today’s Times. She hopes her sentiments will embarrass those who participated in the mob mentality.

Ms. Kinsman said she does not think the Hebrew Center is to blame for the crowd’s behavior.

But Alan Ganapol, Hebrew Center president, sees it differently. “To those whose feelings were hurt and to those who were frustrated, we extend our sincere apology,” Mr. Ganapol said in a Letter to the Editor published in today’s newspaper.

In a phone conversation Tuesday, Mr. Ganapol said changes in entrance process will include “queue control” barriers to maintain orderly lines. Future attendees will be directed into “snaking business lines” and monitored to make sure everyone is following the rules.

Also, the Hebrew Center will offer a tent with audio/visual capabilities to stream the lecture to any overflow crowd.

The Hebrew Center will ask donors to RSVP to speaker series events to reserve seats, Mr. Ganapol added. Additionally, donors may make reservations for their guests. A donor may have a minimum of two guests to a maximum of four guests over the course of the entire season, depending on his or her level of donation.

Mr. Ganapol said that future Summer Series events will have separate entrances for donors and general admission. If a donor does not RSVP, he or she is not guaranteed a seat, he said.

“Clearly it is a change in the process,” Mr. Ganapol said, “It was essential that we change the process because what happened on Thursday was unacceptable. We, as an organization, will not tolerate that.”