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Warren Buffet Loses Out on Pre-Passover Bread Sale

Buffet misses turned down a sure-fire investment – buying bread from Jews desperate to sell it any price before Passover.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 3/25/2012, 4:25 PM

Buffet missed out on the bread
Buffet missed out on the bread
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Warren Buffet misses turned down a sure-fire investment – buying bread from Jews desperate to sell it any price before Passover. He offered to buy the “leavened bread” and other products with grains six weeks ahead of time. A Nebraska rabbi said in so many words, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

The idea of selling the bread and whiskey, which is made from non-kosher for Passover grains, to the “Oracle of Omaha" was the brainstorm of Omaha Rabbi Jonathan Gross, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Jews must get rid of all products containing leaven bread – including whiskey – before Passover, which this year begins Friday night, April 6. Although it is preferable to burn unwanted bread before the holiday, many Jews arrange a sale of the products with leaven to a non-Jew and buy everything back after the holiday.

The sale is far from a game, and there have been various situations in the past few years whereby the buyer, who paid a nominal price, marched to wherever the bread was being stored and walked off with the goods during the Passover holiday.

Buffet may have had no intentions of doing so – presumably, he has enough bread on the table. Rabbi Gross sent Buffet the investment proposal, explaining the background and said, "Price is low before Passover. Price is high afterward. It's a great short-term investment. So who would really appreciate this better than Warren Buffett?"

Buffet’s office replied that he liked the idea because it's "a ceremony of enormous importance to Jews,” but travel arrangements precluded him from signing the deal before the holiday, though he would have been happy to do so weeks beforehand. The two men agreed on a ceremonial sale to raise awareness for donations to a food bank, which is the address for unsold leavened bread.

Rabbi Gross gave Buffet a bottle of single-malt Scotch, home-baked challah and Buffett's favorite, a bag of Cheetos, which cannot be eaten on Passover. The rabbi also played out the ceremony as if were the real thing and gave Buffet keys to his synagogue and home, where the food was to be stored, in case Buffet wanted to exercise his option and walk away with the food.

In return, Buffet forked over four 50-cent coins but said next time, perhaps when the sale is real, he would bargain down the rabbi to two coins.

"Why didn't anyone tell me about this earlier? This is a great investment," Buffett said. "I could have been doing this for years."