My big, fat $10 million bat mitzva

Music lineup included the likes of Aerosmith, Tom Petty, and rapper 50 cent, with video iPod giveaways.

aerosmith 88 (photo credit: )
aerosmith 88
(photo credit: )
It's already been dubbed mitzvahpalooza - the bat mitzva to top all bat mitzvas. At a price tag estimated at just over $10 million, and a music lineup that included the likes of Aerosmith, Tom Petty, and rapper 50 cent, Long Island teen Elizabeth Brooks had a coming of age party on November 26 to fulfill any Jewish princess's dream. Her father, defense industry tycoon David Brooks, was rumored to have told planners to "spare no cost" on a party so lavish it required two floors of New York hot spot The Rainbow Room to host Elizabeth's 300 guests. The 50-year-old Brooks was the highest-grossing executive in Long Island last year, pulling in $72.6 million as chairman of defense contractor DHB Industries. Planners said that Brooks insisted on overseeing every last detail of the event, down to the concert-worthy stage equipment he had hauled in for the show. And what a show it was, said one attendee, who sampled hors d'oeuvres to the strains of Kenny G's soprano sax before The Eagles' Don Henley and Joe Walsh, rap diva Ciara, and Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks kicked off the night's musical performances. The main bill featured Tom Petty, Aerosmith and 50 cent, who apparently worked the lyrics, "Go shorty, it's your bat mitzva, we gonna party, like it's your bat mitzva" into his set. "The party was so awesome," one 14-year-old guest told The Jerusalem Post. "But the coolest were these goody bags we got." The guest asked that her name not be used because she didn't want her friends to think that she had only attended the party for the bags, which included video iPods and digital cameras. "I mean, it was totally worth going for the music too," she said. Brooks's bash was not the only costly party among wealthy Jewish teens. A press release had to be distributed for Amber Ridinger's Miami bat mitzva in November, which cost an estimated $500,000 and featured performances by rap and hip-hop artists Ashanti, Ja Rule and Marques Houston. While the price tags on the Ridinger and Brooks bat mitzvas have been touted as the most lavish in recent years, others are pointing to them as symbolic of a trend in spiraling bar and bat mitzva costs. On the other side of the United States, in Los Angeles, Etti Rabb has spent over a year preparing a bat mitzvah for her daughter, Natalie. "A bottom-of-the-line party will cost you at least $20,000," said Rabb, who teaches Judaic studies at a private Jewish school. "And that doesn't even include the service, which costs another $6,000." Rabb said she has found ways to cut the costs. By planning the event herself, she saved the several thousand dollars that many spend on an event planner, and she hired a small catering company that cost $5,000 less than the caterers provided by the banquet hall. Last week, the Rabb family also decided that they would create the centerpieces for the tables themselves, saving the $200-dollar-a-table cost of renting them for a night. "The theme is 'Around the world.' Each table has a centerpiece from a different part of the world," said Rabb. Natalie said that she has tried to help her mother find ways to keep the costs down as well, but at the end of the day there will always be the pressure to compete with other bat and bar mitzvas. "Everyone talks about the parties afterwards, and sure, I think there is pressure," said the teen. Two years ago, the Rabb family traveled to Israel for the cost of their older son Adam's bar mitzva. "It is much much cheaper in Israel; the guests practically pay for themselves," said Rabb. "It ends up costing us less, but for the guests who travel to Israel to attend it costs much more."