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Josh Altman Tells Rabbi Erez Sherman How He Became King of The Castle

Sherman told the Journal that Altman was a great guest, not only because he was the first to cite his bar mitzvah haftorah portion, but because of his character.
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February 24, 2023
Screenshot from YouTube

Josh Altman is never late to a listing appointment. The top real estate agent who stars on “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles” is always on time for Yom Kippur services, Rabbi Erez Sherman said when Altman was the guest on the 80th episode of his podcast, “Rabbi On the Sidelines.”

The impressive podcast delves into connections between faith and sports. Altman noted that he was excited to get on the bima at Sinai Temple and noted that his bar mitzvah haftorah was for Shabbat Zachor, which is chanted the Shabbat before for Purim.

The portion from the book of Samuel tells of efforts to defeat the enemy of Amalek. Altman noted that the tallit he uses was given to him by his grandfather. He explained that he is Conservative, but his father came from a Modern Orthodox background, and that his Jewish upbringing is a backbone that is “so valuable, it’s tough to even describe.”

Altman was a kicker for Syracuse University’s football team, though he did not get a chance to get on the field, as the starter was chasing a record. He chose Syracuse because his mother didn’t want him to be far away and because it was a good school. He said he learned how to be competitive but noted that while some may think his success is due to luck, it is more due to hard work and being prepared for the big opportunities when they come your way.

One new opportunity that came his way last year was Dolphin Terrace in Newport Beach, which he sold for $19,130,000, and on the 10th episode, we learn that his team as well as that of fellow realtors Josh Flagg and Tracy Tutor will be selling 33 high end estates in Las Vegas for Terra Firma Development. Renderings show those who buy the homes, which average $16,000,000, can provide the luxury L.A. lifestyle 15 minutes from the Vegas strip with no income tax.

Sherman noted that with “Beit Knesset” the first word “Beit” means a house.

Altman and Flagg, whose grandmother Edith was a Holocaust survivor who killed Nazis and became a business success (and was a wonderful character on the show) often use Jewish references. Flagg told someone “you should be so lucky” and used what might be the most obscure reference of the season, citing virtuoso violinist Jascha Heifetz, who was born in Vilnius, Lithuania and played at Carnegie Hall In New York.

With a show that goes out to more than 70 countries and is seen by millions of people, the two men could choose to hide their Jewishness. But that isn’t the case. With both Altman and Flagg “being Jewish, you’ll see that in different scenes,” Altman said on the podcast.

Sherman noted he was touched by former Patriot wide receiver Julian Edelman, who tweeted a message of support in 2018 after a gunman murdered 11 Jews at The Tree of Life Synagogue. “My heart is broken for the families of Pittsburgh,” Edelman tweeted. “It’s hard to even imagine such senselessness. As a Jew, an American and a human, I’m devastated. We are with you, Pittsburgh …” Altman called the former NFL receiver a hero, friend and client.

While what Altman does might look easy due to his great charisma and charm, he explained that he and his brother Matt, who is his partner in their business, started with a small amount of money, got a bank loan and flipped houses until they sunk all their capital into a big castle. It felt great, until the mortgage bubble exploded and they lost it.

“That fall from the top made me who I am today,” Altman told Sherman, adding that he worked in a mailroom at one point, and the new workforce should not be lazy and realize hard work is necessary.

Altman said he looks at people’s movements and facial expressions from the minute they come into a house. “I love emotion because it’s the easiest thing I can see,” Altman said.

Those who watch the show (now in its 15th season) will know that Altman is smitten by Heather, his wife and mother of their two children. She converted to Judaism, showed her real estate prowess and ability to work well with anybody, coming up with great solutions to diffuse problems. She is now the company’s CEO. “Since I met her, my career went through the roof,” Altman said, and in a past interview, said she made him a better person.

Altman said he spends about an hour-and-a-half working out and spending time in the sauna to prepare for each day and estimates that he sells $4,000,000 in real estate every day, does about 1,000 negotiations a year, and the top team has hit $1.5 billion in one year.

Altman said it is crucial to dress for success and that “everybody has their cape, their uniform in life.” He said everyone has value as a person and, in terms of real estate, even if they’re not currently looking to buy a house, they often know someone who does.

He said when he and his brother Matt were starting out, they would go to fancy hotspots and order a glass of water and allow people to think it was alcohol so they could schmooze with the heavy hitters. Altman said as a result of the show, he gets about 1,000 e-mails from teens seeking tips about how to break into the real estate industry.

He was thrilled that there are now classes in college about real estate, which did not exist when he was in college. He won’t have to teach one, because people can tune into the show on Bravo.

The bestselling author writes in “The Altman Close: Million-Dollar Tactics From America’s Top Real Estate Agent” that “We all love a slam dunk, a Hail Mary caught, a grand slam, yet even in this past year when my second-home team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, lost the World Series to my beloved Boston Red Sox, the Dodgers took out a full-page ad in the Boston Globe congratulating the Sox on their win. That’s class. That makes a loss a win for them — a form of close in itself.”

Sherman told the Journal that Altman was a great guest, not only because he was the first to cite his bar mitzvah haftorah portion, but because of his character.

“Josh is someone who cares deeply about Jewish life and Jewish education. He comes from a family rooted in community. So many of the lessons on the football field and in the world of real estate are lessons we find steeped in our tradition.”

“Josh is someone who cares deeply about Jewish life and Jewish education,” Sherman told the Journal. “He comes from a family rooted in community. So many of the lessons on the football field and in the world of real estate are lessons we find steeped in our tradition.”


Sinai Temple’s Rabbi Erez Sherman interviews Josh Altman on “Rabbi On The Sidelines.” 

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