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Reaching the age of entitlement

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Marc Ellis is taking a break, so it falls to me to chronicle the mores and lifestyles of empire Jews.

Sam Horowitz’s ecdysiastic bar mitzvah celebration in Dallas last November is all over the internet thanks to a blog called Kveller, which published it like it was cute. “The Dallas Observer called the professionally choreographed routine at the Omni Hotel ‘unarguably the craziest entrance to a religious celebration and ceremony,’ which is unfair, seeing as it’s unarguably the craziest entrance to anything ever,” Gawker writes.

Here’s another video from Sam Horowitz, said by Haaretz to be the invitation to his bar mitzvah, set to the tune, Call me maybe. There are scenes of him practicing his Torah reading wearing a talis, prancing around some Dallas mansion and outside a Jewish center in Dallas.

he can be seen dancing in front of the JCC of Dallas, endowed by his grandparents, Steve and Carol Aaron.

Also a glimpse of a religious sanctuary, with a man mouthing a line from the song.

I learned about Sam Horowitz from the same friend who told me about another Empire bar mitzvah boy, Andrew Zucker, son of CNN president Jeff Zucker.

Last week the NYTimes broke the story that NJ Senate hopeful Cory Booker’s dubious but entitled tech startup, Waywire, had on its advisory board Andrew, 15,  who was given stock options. Andrew Zucker resigned from Waywire after the Times story came out; CNN announced the news. NY Post:

The rich kid’s consulting career as a “millennial adviser” ended just hours after it was revealed that he had been granted stock options in the firm co-founded by Booker, the Newark mayor who polls show is a shoo-in for the US Senate after a special election.

“Despite the fact that his affiliation with Waywire was extremely limited to only an advisory capacity, in order to avoid even the perception of a conflict, Jeff’s son has resigned from the Waywire advisory board, effective immediately,” CNN said in a statement.

News of Andrew’s stock deal lit up social media yesterday, with critics on Twitter branding it a “gross nepotism alert.”

Young Zucker was last in the news when his parents threw him a $250,000 bar mitzvah at the Four Seasons.

Of course rich people have behaved badly for as long as there has been money, but I feel a Jewish embarrassment in these incidents. We used to stand for something else in American culture beside gross arriviste entitlement. Of course that was when we were outsiders. Whatever happened to  noblesse oblige?

philweiss
About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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47 Responses

  1. hophmi
    hophmi
    August 15, 2013, 11:17 am

    “Of course rich people have behaved badly for as long as there has been money, but I feel a Jewish embarrassment in these incidents. We used to stand for something else in American culture beside gross arriviste entitlement. Of course that was when we were outsiders. ”

    So, two rich kids had over the top Bar Mitzvahs, and this is somehow – what – reflective of all Jews? This is “what we stand for?” This is only what we stand for if you think like a bigot.

    Because, clearly, you would apply the same standard to, say, an over-the-top sweet-16 or communion party by a Christian family, right?

    • Xpat
      Xpat
      August 15, 2013, 12:52 pm

      It’s much worse than “over the top”. What’s the point of being Jewish at all if this is how the boy is honored? Becoming Bar Mitzvah is widely understood to be – if parents’ and grandparents’ Bar Mitzvah speeches are sincere – a celebration of Jewish heritage and a commitment to Jewish continuity. What does this troupe of sexually provocative girls say about this family’s power?
      Of course, this doesn’t tarnish all Jews but it makes this Jew cringe. And the Jewish community is absolutely determined not to have the conversation Marc Ellis has started about “empire Jews”, who they represent and what that means for the rest of us.

      • Danaa
        Danaa
        August 15, 2013, 6:06 pm

        I couldn’t help notice that marc Ellis’ series draw relatively few comments. I wonder why that is. he often has provocative enough things to say, and personally I found quite a few insights in his pieces.

        We know many jewish people read this blog. many who are exactly the kind of ’empire” jews we are talking about. The entitled ones. And some who cringe at the nouveau riche displays. I just wonder why so few comment – like where’s hophmi in all this? too busy counting his “blesssings”?

        I understand why ellis draw fewer non-jewish people – surely must have something to do with the whiff of navel gazing. but that doesn’t turn anyone off when it’s Phil that does the gazing?

      • Eva Smagacz
        Eva Smagacz
        August 16, 2013, 4:08 am

        Daana,

        I got severely burned trying to comment on Marc Ellis’s article – granted, he was taking on a particularly radioactive topic. I was obviously not nuanced in Jewish sensibilities enough, and not only my comment was cut, I was blocked from commenting for quite a while.

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        August 16, 2013, 10:04 am

        “I just wonder why so few comment – like where’s hophmi in all this? too busy counting his “blesssings”?

        I comment on Marc Ellis from time to time. Frankly, I find Ellis to be a diffuse and rambling writer. His badly-written essays ramble on and on and on, and keep making the same tendentious point over and over again, so I don’t read everything he writes. He’s just not a very good writer or an especially original thinker; sorry. He’s basically a closed-minded college professor who doesn’t seem to feel any need to defend anything he says. I assume he’ll compile the essays here in some kind of book which no one will buy. Phil writes well, at least, and responds once in a while.

        “We know many jewish people read this blog. many who are exactly the kind of ‘empire” jews we are talking about. The entitled ones. ”

        Do you know these people personally? Seems to me that most of the commentators here are quite entitled.

      • American
        American
        August 16, 2013, 3:00 pm

        ‘I understand why ellis draw fewer non-jewish people – surely must have something to do with the whiff of navel gazing. but that doesn’t turn anyone off when it’s Phil that does the gazing?””….Danaa

        I admit didnt get much from ellis at first because seemed like mostly navel gazing and woe is the poor jews….but have since seen evidence of some first rate real world thinking and non relgo/ethnic , more universal human rights concentration……..so hope he keeps up his column.

      • Danaa
        Danaa
        August 16, 2013, 4:39 pm

        hophmi, I think you can be fairly certain that a majority of jewish-derived people who read and comment on this blog are “entitled”. Not in money necessarily but certainly in education, creative thought, character and/or inspiration. Your august debunkers alone would make quite an erudite club. One which i wouldn’t at all mind crashing.

        As for your stated low opinions of Marc Ellis, coming from one hardly on top of his own writing game, these are telling. Such as they are, your put-downs reveal more about your own psychological profile than the ideas you seek to denigrate. Among others, it is to the likes of you that the Empire jews threads are addressed. That you would avert your eyes is to be expected, as it requires a certain type of courage to look in mirrors. A courage that were you in possession of, would not allow you to act as the hasbara shill that you are.

        As for Ellis’ writing style – with nearly daily posts – I wouldn’t expect every thought, expression and relayed anecdote to be a fully tidied up affair. More importantly I understand not everyone is endowed with what it takes to recognize depth, or subtlety without it being spelled out and reduced to digestible bits.

        personally i found quite a few jewels in his musings, even though they can be a bit on the navel-gazing side (am no slouch in that department myself, so what’s to criticize?). that you don’t only tells me that you have probably missed his larger narrative of the “Prophetic vs Profane” (the latter representing your “empire jew” just to spell out for you), But then, given the ideological blinders you are saddled with it would be a surprise were it otherwise.

      • Danaa
        Danaa
        August 16, 2013, 5:05 pm

        Eva, I am really sorry to hear that you were banned for a time. I, for one, always find your comments valuable and insightful – many a time from a direction different than the one we usually wallow in (yes, myself included).

        My one thought is that perhaps there’s special police action called out on Ellis’ threads. He is directing his musings principally at a jewish audience, I believe, which is fine – it’s his choice and selected area of interest. Sometimes it’s too abstract and/or scholarly; other times perhaps too down-to-earth for certain delicate jewish minds. In any case, we know that when people aim for “intra-tribe’ discussions there is also some over-the-top sensitivity to elements brought in from those extraneous to the tribe. Specifically, as I don’t know what your comment was (obviously) my guess is that it may have run afoul of some barely visible red lines. I sometimes notice those, thanks to good color-coded vision, and caught myself a number of times, just barely straying over – at which point it’s one word and you are back “in”, if just barely. But that’s no doubt way too much attention drafted for a mere comment made in passing for most, especially when extra effort is needed just to catch them darn lines without squinting.

        Finally, I do believe that the topics Marc Ellis chooses to handle are uncomfortable ones. I kind of look at it as the Prophetic vs the Profane (as noted above to hophmi), because there are indeed profane elements in that “Empire jew” entity, which Ellis chooses to highlight. Basically any attempt to dissect privilege – and its trappings – will be cringe-inducing. Phil Weiss does it with uniquely well-sharpened knives, wielded as they are by capable surgically tuned hands of a skilled writer. Of all people, I haven’t seen many as good as Phil at coming right up to a line, gently scraping some skin from the inside, leaving the outer membranes intact. Which of course will result in others – members of the commentariat – those a bit less squeamish and/or less surgically patient to cut straight through. Quite a few land mines there, ready to go off (in case you are thinking Gilad, the non-surgeon, well, so do I).

        If you could share sometime what that comment was (should you still remember) I’d try my best to do an autopsy.

    • Ellen
      Ellen
      August 15, 2013, 1:24 pm

      That Bar Mitzvah (and others like it) was not about a Bar Mitzvah, but something else. Exhibitionism, sexism, deranged parents? It has no more to do with a Bar Mitzvah than holding a mega event for a six or seven-year-old on the day of their first communion (unimaginable as most would have a nice brunch with family and a few close neighbors in the early afternoon, if anything at all.)

    • Ellen
      Ellen
      August 15, 2013, 1:36 pm

      From the Haaretz coverage:

      “According to Angela, this is the first of many times Sam expects to see his name in lights. “Sam wants to be famous in the entertainment industry,” she said. “He loves to sing and dance. He’s a really passionate kid.”

      Sam already has an agent and has appeared in several commercials and on “Barney the Dinosaur.”

      This was not a Bar Mitzvah, but a promotion for a 13-year-old. Strange values…..whatever.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        August 15, 2013, 9:39 pm

        “According to Angela, this is the first of many times Sam expects to see his name in lights.”

        They love it when you look at them

    • Empiricon
      Empiricon
      August 15, 2013, 3:23 pm

      Here comes hopmi with false equivalance again. There certainly are “over-the-top sweet-16” parties. There is even an MTV reality show called “My Super Sweet 16” that has run since 2005. But they are objects of ridicule by any reasonable person. I can’t easily find evidence of “over-the-top” communion parties. And in my personal life — as a nominal mainline Christian with two teenage children — I can say I have never experienced either one.

      But I have personally experienced more than a dozen “over the top” bar/bat mitzvahs. It is not only de rigeur, I have had Jewish parents who couldn’t afford one speak apologetically about their lack of excess.

      So contrary to what Hophmi claims below, empirical evidence suggests to me that this IS at least somewhat representaive of Jewish America. It’s not the whole, but it’s a revealing part. I’m not sure I understand why it seems to be a part of the culture. And much as hophmi et al like to play the “racist!” card, it IS cultural, not racial.

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        August 16, 2013, 10:15 am

        “But I have personally experienced more than a dozen “over the top” bar/bat mitzvahs. It is not only de rigeur, I have had Jewish parents who couldn’t afford one speak apologetically about their lack of excess. ”

        What is an “over the top” bar mitzvah? I’m curious to know how you define the term. Is it any sit-down affair? Is it any affair with the Viennese table? Please, enlighten us with your anecdotes of these Bar Mitzvahs you were graciously invited to, and attended.

        It’s not a cultural issue. It’s a socioeconomic one. People who can afford to spend money on these affairs make them. People who cannot do not. People in Borough Park who have 10 kids and live on one paycheck aren’t making expensive parties.

        It is part of Jewish culture to celebrate these events; our tradition, like many, places great significance on lifecycle events. But it’s not in any way specifically Jewish to spend lots of money on a lifecycle event if you have the means to do so, and the assertion that it is is nonsense.

        The assertion that because some Wall Street honcho made a lavish Bar Mitzvah for his kid, Jews should feel collective embarrassment, is, well, quite a bit hypocritical coming from Phil. It’s quite tribal; I can’t think of anything more tribal.

  2. Marco
    Marco
    August 15, 2013, 11:37 am

    Media coverage of this Bar Mitzvah is interesting. Contrary to what Hophmi is trying to claim, if this kind of profane and over-the-top spectacle took place at a Christian ceremony for the child of the elites, it would be openly ridiculed. Imagine such an event for the child of an evangelical leader, for example. The same outlets like Gawker who are good-naturedly laughing about this Bar Mitzvah would be openly ridiculing its Christian counterpart.

    And by the way, why isn’t Gawker condemning this Bar Mitzvah as sexist? Issues of feminism and sexism are normally top of the agenda for Gawker. The fact that they aren’t tearing into it for being sexist is highly revealing.

    • hophmi
      hophmi
      August 15, 2013, 1:16 pm

      ” Contrary to what Hophmi is trying to claim, if this kind of profane and over-the-top spectacle took place at a Christian ceremony for the child of the elites, it would be openly ridiculed. ”

      That’s not what I said. I said it wouldn’t be ridiculed as a representation of Christianity in America. Phil is asserting that this stands for Jewish America. That’s bigot talk.

      • marc b.
        marc b.
        August 15, 2013, 4:29 pm

        okay. i’ll bite. so it’s part of a religious ceremony that is in no way a reflection of the religion. but is it ‘vulgar’, ‘narcissistic’, ‘hedonistic’, ‘grotesque’? if you believe so, you’re right in one respect: it’s more indicative of the decline and fall of western liberal democracy than anything else.

      • Danaa
        Danaa
        August 15, 2013, 6:10 pm

        it’s Jewish rich America, hophmi. So how many jewish names on that Forbes list again? and what’s so bigoted to point that out – if it’s a fact? And of those rich jews, how many have over-the-top kids? how many got their kids into harvard on legacy “merit”?

        If people are rich and act like boors the rest of us can point that out to our hearts’ content.

      • marc b.
        marc b.
        August 15, 2013, 7:57 pm

        you missed the memo, danaa. it’s permissible (no, mandatory) to wonder at the ‘jewish century in america’ when you’re talking about curing cancer or counting Pulitzers; it’s anti-Semitic to characterize it as the ‘jewish century in america’ if you’re talking about credit default swaps and online porn.

      • annie
        annie
        August 15, 2013, 7:36 pm

        why do you have to go all out w/the bigot talk hophmi? if it embarrassed phil because he’s jewish, so what?

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        August 15, 2013, 9:03 pm

        So what? Phil posts a story about some NBA player’s outrageous crib, and says it’s indicative of the excess of African American athletes. OK with you, Annie? Of course not. It’s racism. So is posting a clip from an over the top Bar Mitzvah and saying it’s symptomatic of Jewish excess and entitlement.

        This is NOT typical. In any way. In any form. And I grew up in an upper middle class Jewish neighborhood where bar mitzvahs were common. They were by and large tasteful affairs. Every comment that references some list of rich Jews for no other. reason than to point out their common ethnicity should be banned under the comments policy as antisemitism. Period.

      • annie
        annie
        August 15, 2013, 11:10 pm

        let’s review what he said why don’t we:

        Of course rich people have behaved badly for as long as there has been money, but I feel a Jewish embarrassment in these incidents. We used to stand for something else in American culture beside gross arriviste entitlement. Of course that was when we were outsiders. Whatever happened to noblesse oblige?

        so, it embarrasses him. if you weren’t constantly here complaining i might think about taking your squawks more seriously, but you see bigots everywhere.

        and from the comment section here it does appear there are a lot of other jewish people that agree with him. http://www.kveller.com/blog/parenting/sam-horowitz-bar-mitzvah-boy-live-at-the-omni-hotel/

        i already stated i don’t agree with him (about him being embarrassed because it’s not his doing), but it doesn’t make him a bigot to feel embarrassed by this kind of extravagance.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        August 16, 2013, 7:15 am

        “Phil posts a story about some NBA player’s outrageous crib, and says it’s indicative of the excess of African American athletes. OK with you, Annie? Of course not. It’s racism.”

        Rhe only racism I see here is your use of the word “crib.”

      • Xpat
        Xpat
        August 16, 2013, 2:38 pm

        Hophmi, From my immediate experience, really bad taste abounds. They include the distasteful and unsettling elements of Sam’s bacchanal, but on a lower budget: sexy girls surrounding the boy, hero worship of a 13 year old put on display to the adoring family and friends.

        Today’s Bar Mitzvahs are not your genteel, upper middle class, childhood affairs.

      • gamal
        gamal
        August 16, 2013, 3:26 pm

        “From my immediate experience, really bad taste abounds.”

        ok accepting the provisional notion of “taste”, and Jews like to claim they are not Arabs, howlingly awful taste is a noveau Arab speciality, welcome brothers and sisters, to the lands of Gold Lame and pancake make-up, crotch crushing crimplene slacks and blood fountains (ok, Iranians are not fully Arab in taste true but they have their lapses too). In Egypt to paraphrase Lee Marvin ” If we didnt have no Bad Taste, We wouldnt have no taste at all”

        I like crude gold painted Louis XV furniture, still in the celophane, hmph snobs, my viole shirt open to the waste, gold medallion stuck to the encrusted hair of my chest with visible lashings of Riz Buin, and rhinestone encrusted jeans excite admiration where ever i go, my predilection for eating vast meals of bread salad and meat in full view of the stunted half starved kids who populate Cairo’s streets is an act of consciousness raising the Profit himself has sanctioned, one of the root meanings of Arab (rbb) (ok actually rbb is “to be great” sort of, i laughed) is to ostentate, I will take any Bar Mitzvah you’ve got and raise you an Egyptian Heliopolis Eid, wedding, evening in with in laws, in some things our preeminence is unchallengable. Who can forget the Quranic injunction “Wealth have I squandered in abundance” (somewhere in Baladi).

      • Xpat
        Xpat
        August 16, 2013, 4:19 pm

        @ Annie,
        “from the comment section here it does appear there are a lot of other jewish people that agree with him. link to kveller.com”

        I read thru the first page or so of comments at that link and almost everyone approves of this party (or at least disapproves of those who criticize it), including his Sunday school teacher. She hints that there is more to this than meets the eye.

      • annie
        annie
        August 17, 2013, 1:25 pm

        almost everyone? ok, maybe there were not a lot of jewish people who agreed. but as a random sample on the first comment page, i think it represents a significant amount:

        Arlo Gilbert · Top Commenter · Dallas, Texas
        This video makes every jewish kid in Dallas look like a stereotypical greedy over the top idiot. I’m jewish, I donate, I have children around the same age and I find all of this humiliating. The torah doesn’t have a chapter about choreographed strippers, in fact it says that humility and humble living are mitzvot. Shameful.

        Robin Einzig · Top Commenter
        The question is not about whether he has talent. The question is whether a bar mitzvah is the appropriate venue. You ask “what if Eddie Cantor didn’t follow his dreams?” No one is suggesting that this boy–or anyone else–not follow their dreams, show business or otherwise. Eddie Cantor would have sooner died than do such a thing as part of a religious ritual–it was separate. And as far as “so called” Jewish people….it is in the nature of Judaism to question, to think critically, to discuss, to analyze, to argue. There is nothing “so-called” about it.
        Reply · 6 ·
        · August 14 at 11:14am
        Robin Einzig · Top Commenter
        I also want to say that this sort of behavior and conspicuous consumption IS what has turned me away from Judaism. I’m sure I’m not the only one. We do agree on one thing–Jews are turning away because of the hypocrisy–and the movement toward these over the top parties is a prime example.

        =======

        Diana Ruth Davidson Lerner · Remote Transcriber at Alternative Communication Services (ACS)
        This video speaks volumes about the parents’ values and priorities. I’ll leave it at that.

        Beth S Brock · Fayetteville, Georgia
        They’re aren’t words.

        Beth S Brock · Fayetteville, Georgia
        I’ll come up with some …I need to be sick

        Diana Ruth Davidson Lerner · Remote Transcriber at Alternative Communication Services (ACS)
        Beth S Brock – You know me, Cuzzie! I have plenty of words – I just don’t want to hurt the kid if he sees them! Not his fault. Check out this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mc864w67IR8

        ==============

        Gary Goldstein · Physician at Oro Valley Hospital
        What is this? “Keeping up with the Steins”? Sorry, I find it vulgar, ostentatious, and humiliating. Was this for the benefit of the parents or the kid? All that was missing was a stripper pole.

        Melissa Howell · Top Commenter · Dallas, Texas
        I’m sure just like all the over-the-top sweet 16 parties featured on that stupid show on MTV, this was more for the parents than the kid. The grandparents on the kid’s mom’s side have an absurd amount of money, so they can afford a six figure spectacle like this one without batting an eyelash. Can’t blame the kid for his parents’/family’s overindulgence.

        =========

        Joel Ehrlich · Westward Financial Strategies at Benefits 360
        …just a word for dignity, modesty, humility, gratitude, family; Torah values. Did father and son bond over learning as Jewish men, or programming as rascals?

        ========

        Janis Knight · Director of Religious Education at Temple Shaari Emeth
        What the heck was that? I have to say, that didn’t really suggest Torah, mitzvot, a sense of growing maturity or of one’s job as God’s partner in tikkun olam. Nope, not even a little.

        Ellen Zucker · Teacher at Temple Beth Torah
        You know I’m rarely speechless, but I needed to regroup after that.

        =========

        Carol Weitzman
        Before any critical commentary, I want to say three things. (long wind-up) First, I love this little guy, Sam. He is enthusiastic, passionate, willing to get out there and do his thing and just adorable. Second, I completely agree that we must engage Jewish kids and families in the b’nei mitzvah process more effectively and make it feel real, meaningful and appealing. If it feels like drudgery to kids and parents and kids cannot relate to it and find beauty in this mitzvah, we do not win as Jews. We really lose! So we need to be open. And third, how lovely for Sam’s teacher to comment on his and his family’s behalf.

        So what is my objection to this “benign” part of the celebration? It dilutes and shifts the meaning of the bar mitzvah from one focused on community to being simply a narcissistic celebration of one very young person. A bar mitzvah is not a celebration of you, its about joining a community of Jewish adults and committing to a life of Jewish values. Sure, after a year or more of devoted study a party is wonderful thing but when it overshadows the key purpose, we should examine this carefully.

        So Sam loves theater and dance? Why not channel that into raising money for instruments and theater programs in underserved communities in the US and Israel or volunteering for a theater recreation program for disabled or special needs children or adults? So many possibilities that align with Jewish values! These are the actions that create more than a memory of a fun, crazy day but an enduring relationship with Judaism and the Jewish people.

        Sara Weitzman Parker · Boston University
        Brava, Carol! You hit all the right notes here. ;-) Now get back to work, damnit!

        Janet Rosier · Owner at Janet Rosier’s Educational Resources, Inc.
        It hit me as narcissistic as well.

        Linden Grazier
        Your comments were perfect…and perfectly in keeping with what b’nai mitzvah is supposed to be [email protected]

        =======

        Dana Jacobs Bjornstad
        That does not surprise me. I grew up in Reform Judaism in Dallas and decided it was all a bunch of fakeness and I quit practicing the Jewish religion because of the sort of attitude behind things like this.

        Jessica Hoffman · Top Commenter · Founder, Editor, Blogger at Geshem City
        Your story sounds familiar. When Jewish ceremonies have nothing to do with Judaism, how can you expect to grow up feeling or being Jewish?

        Sam seems like a super confident kid. Imagine if he was given actual Judaism to be confident about, instead of just dancing with grown women in glitter bras…

        there’s still 30 more comments i have not checked.

      • seanmcbride
        seanmcbride
        August 17, 2013, 1:49 pm

        Which Jewish values — values espoused by Judaism — did the directors of this particular bar mitzvah imagine were being promoted and celebrated? A vision of extreme wealth and success, abundance overflowing, unlimited materialism, the promise of joining the billionaires’ club, etc.? Roman hedonism? Perhaps the presiding rabbi could spell it out. What exactly are the “spiritual” elements in play?

        (Some strains of Christianity emphasize material success as part of their theology. Follow the lord and become fabulously wealthy. Pat Robertson may be a member of that school. Most Christians hold this attitude in contempt — that wasn’t the core message of the New Testament.)

        (And, now that one thinks about it: Pat Robertson is a leading Christian Zionist.)

      • Xpat
        Xpat
        August 17, 2013, 2:58 pm

        @Anniealmost everyone? ok, maybe there were not a lot of jewish people who agreed.
        I don’t know who’s Jewish and who’s not. Bar Mitzvahs are a focus of non-Jews too (clearly). Anyway, having some time on my hands, I went back and counted the top comments. Of the first 15 commenters, 9 refused to criticize the party (including his Sunday school teacher), 4 thought it was awful and 2 were non-committal.

        So, only 25% of the first 15 commenters agreed with Phil. A relative of mine thought the boy was very sweet and danced well, but she did not comment on kveller.

      • annie
        annie
        August 17, 2013, 5:26 pm

        elliot, i think you misunderstood my meaning. my point was not that the majority of people of that forum (which i assumed was a jewish forum tho i could be wrong) disagreed, but that a lot of people disagreed. and to me, 25% still represents a lot of people.

        and not to get too nitpicky, but the top comment was posted after the thread had been up for two days. the tone in it, as well as the tone of another chastizing the gang, (August 6 at 6:44pm by silerverman) indicate many or most of the original posting were all negative. iow, it appears to me that after sam’s teacher, ms Raquel Pomerantz Gershon stepped in w/”Shame on you commenters for standing in judgement of someone you haven’t met. ” the reactions of future commenters changed. an example of 4 all together down thread. note the dates on these:

        Michelle Tichauer Fanwick · Manager of Technology Services at Fanwick Associates
        A result of too much money spent in the wrong way. Wrong example for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah child. It would provide a much finer example of Yiddishkeit if they made a donation to Jewish Family Service or Birthright!
        Reply ·
        · August 8 at 8:24am

        Barbara N. Roff · Top Commenter · Works at Retired Teacher
        Some people seemed to have liked it. But then, again i am old fashioned by now. I find the less a kid knows the fancier his party is. This kid must be real stupid.
        Reply ·
        · August 8 at 2:08pm

        Karen Elias Kauffman · Boca Ciega High School
        Where to start? OK, Sam is a good dance. That is the ONLY positive thing I have to say. The adult females were inappropriate. Hope he gave a charitable donation to TRY to balance out what I saw—- if that’s possible…..
        Reply ·
        · August 6 at 7:31pm

        Lisa Schwarcz Zlotnick
        Just ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Gross.
        Reply ·
        · August 7 at 6:14pm

        Shyrla Pakula · Top Commenter · Medical Practitioner/Lactation Consultant at Self-Employed
        :-o
        Ah, the values.
        Reply ·
        · August 6 at 10:29pm

        these are representative of the first reaction posts. and here’s from wapo:

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/wp/2013/08/15/have-we-forgotten-what-bar-mitzvahs-are-all-about/

        Have we forgotten what Bar Mitzvahs are all about?

        By David Wolpe, Published: August 15 at 2:59 pm

        The egregious, licentious and thoroughly awful video that is circulating ‘celebrating’ a Bar Mitzvah contains so much that is offensive that it requires restraint to hold oneself to three ways in which this display slaughters the spirit. Still, in the face of excess what could be more appropriate than abstinence? So here are only three of the worst things about this travesty:

        1. To turn a ceremony of spiritual maturation into a Vegas showgirl parade teaches a child sexualization of spirit. Apparently nothing in our society militates against the narcissistic display of short skirted dancers ushering an adolescent into unearned stardom. If it is fetching, it is worthy. A beat justifies all else, and the rapt attention of an (dare I hope incredulous?) audience, is its own justification. Here is a spectacle on the order of throwing Christians to lions — that is, toss belief into the arena of appetite. Everything is fair game if the show is good enough. The usual phrase set above the ark in a synagogue is “know before whom you stand.” Perhaps it is time to change it to “Flesh Vincit Omnia.” Rockette Ruach.

        i stand by what i said, i think there are ‘a lot of other jewish people that agree with him’ meaning agree w/phil. if you still think ‘almost everyone’ doesn’t, well, the first reactions on the thread must have just been an anomaly.

      • Keith
        Keith
        August 16, 2013, 6:28 pm

        HOPHMI- “I said it wouldn’t be ridiculed as a representation of Christianity in America. Phil is asserting that this stands for Jewish America.”

        Phil is most certainly not ridiculing this Bar Mitzvah as representative of American Judaism. He is indicating that he is embarrassed by the flamboyant gaucheness of these “empire Jews.” They are not consistent with his image of Jewish values, a somewhat unrealistic image, I might add. He apparently hopes for some sort of Jewish “noblesse oblige” instead of “gross arriviste entitlement.”

        And you, Hophmi, have grossly misrepresented this post in your never-ending defense of Zionism and the empire Jews who finance it. But, what else is new?

  3. American
    American
    August 15, 2013, 12:08 pm

    The nouveau riche abound in this country in more than just Jews.
    Unfortunately too much of the ‘classes’ whose boats got ‘lifted by the tide’ didnt have any class to put in the boat and bring along with them.
    Our ‘new’ society represents the decline in the concept and practice of noblesse oblige .
    Too bad.

  4. seanmcbride
    seanmcbride
    August 15, 2013, 12:13 pm

    See also:

    “Philip Green gives £4 million party for his son’s bar mitzvah” (The Telegraph)

    Even by Philip Green’s extraordinary standards it is a party to remember. The billionaire businessman has spent millions of pounds on a three-day bar mitzvah celebration for his teenage son, Brandon.

    Mr Green, 53, the richest and most flamboyant man in British retailing, has flown 300 guests to one of France’s best and most expensive hotels. For lovers of opera and pop music, the highlights of the party are two live concerts: the first on Friday night by Andrea Bocelli, the blind Italian tenor, and the second last night by Beyoncé and her group, Destiny’s Child.

    For others, the most astonishing aspect of the gathering is a giant synagogue, designed by Mr Green’s wife Tina, which has been erected in the 14 acres of gardens at the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, on a private peninsula between Nice and Monaco.

    “We will probably ship it to Israel afterwards but we haven’t decided exactly where yet,” Mr Green told The Sunday Telegraph yesterday.

  5. David Doppler
    David Doppler
    August 15, 2013, 12:24 pm

    I agree with hophmi. In America, ridiculing the excesses of the rich is a pastime that can be enjoyed by everyone. In America, those who inherit their wealth, who claim entitlement on the basis of anything other than their own merit, are the outsiders. Rags to riches to rags again in three generations.

    “Whatever happened to noblesse oblige?” Well, it went out with nobility and the British Empire. It is replaced by good citizenship, being a good steward of the important institutions we inherit from prior generations, even as we improve upon them or replace them with better ones. In your case, Phil, it is embodied in speaking truth to power, regardless of consequences. “There is a natural aristocracy among men,” said Thomas Jefferson. “The grounds of this are virtue and talent.”

    It’s not easy for rich people to instill virtue in their children.

    • American
      American
      August 15, 2013, 2:08 pm

      ”It is replaced by good citizenship, being a good steward of the important institutions we inherit from prior generations, even as we improve upon them or replace them with better ones”

      Well, we havent done that. “If’ we had been good citizens and stewards we wouldnt be at the sorry place we are at now.

    • gamal
      gamal
      August 15, 2013, 2:51 pm

      “Whatever happened to noblesse oblige?” the welfare state and progressive taxation, oh that was then this now, so Noblesse Oblige, is the hope of the future, hows your forelock, better practice tugging it and curtseying and kowtowing.

      some of the most militant Coal Miners in the UK, after the destruction of that industry re-trained as domestic servants and heroin addicts, the Rhonnda boasted one of the most profitable heroin markets in the Welsh hills, the past is our future.

  6. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    August 15, 2013, 1:57 pm

    RE: “Of course rich people have behaved badly for as long as there has been money” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: If I recall correctly, Tom Cruise spent $250,000 just on the flowers alone for his wedding in Italy to Katie Holmes, and Bill Clinton spent several million dollars on his daughter’s wedding.

    AND THERE WAS THIS WALL STREET-STYLE OSTENTATION:
    “Sachs man’s $1M bat mitzvah”, By Jennifer Gould Keil, N.Y. Post, 1/14/12

    It’s your toxic mortgages at work.
    Goldman Sachs investment banker Jeffrey Verschleiser, accused in lawsuits of illicitly profiting from bad mortgages that led to the 2008 meltdown, is spending $1 million to take over a swanky Aspen, Colo., hotel for his Upper East Side daughter’s bat mitzvah, sources said.
    Verscheisler is taking over the luxury Hotel Jerome for the entire weekend, and perks for the guests reportedly include autographs from pro skiers.
    “It is a little tone deaf, and it’s a really disgusting display of ill-gotten gains,” one angry Aspen resident said.

    SOURCE – http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/sachs_man_bat_mitzvah_bEVAB0useRLrwe2HaIJHtL

    • American
      American
      August 15, 2013, 3:11 pm

      ‘“It is a little tone deaf, and it’s a really disgusting display of ill-gotten gains,” one angry Aspen resident said.’

      Yep.
      If someone wants to be showy, tacky as it may be, with money they’ve ‘honestly’ earned, that is one thing…but in the case of low lifes like Verschleiser he ought to be on a ‘no admit to” and ‘do not attend any social functions of” list’ .

    • seanmcbride
      seanmcbride
      August 15, 2013, 3:11 pm

      Dickerson,

      If I recall correctly, Tom Cruise spent $250,000 just on the flowers alone for his wedding in Italy to Katie Holmes, and Bill Clinton spent several million dollars on his daughter’s wedding.

      But did they explicitly associate these events with Christian traditions and rituals — as part of a religious socialization process?

      Perhaps they did — I wasn’t paying attention.

      In any case, Cruise and the Clintons don’t seem to be very much into ethnic or religious nationalism.

      By the way, here is the link for that Telegraph article on Philip Green:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1490030/Philip-Green-gives-4-million-party-for-his-sons-bar-mitzvah-but-no-present.html

      Google [billionaires bar OR bat mitzvah] and you will turn up quite a few interesting stories.

  7. American
    American
    August 15, 2013, 2:55 pm

    And you can add this to the discussion on how wealth and the wealth ‘mentality’ is used now by so many. Because the only thing Lind left out of his excellent article is that eliteness is now based mostly on money or political power—and what they advocate and support for the US is almost always what will benefit them and/or make them richer or keep them in their political power offices or influence positions.

    Elites keep ruining America

    I respect expertise and would be glad to support the establishment – the problem is it’s so often wrong. Here’s why
    By Michael Lind
    If America’s bipartisan establishment is agreed on something, you can be pretty sure it will be a disaster. That is my reluctant conclusion, after nearly three decades of involvement in politics and journalism, in Washington and New York.
    I say “reluctant” because I am not a populist by temperament. I respect academic training as well as expertise based on personal experience. I think that institutions are, or should be, less likely to make mistakes than individuals. I detest people who pose as “contrarians” for the sake of controversy. I would happily be an establishmentarian, if there were a U.S. establishment worth belonging to.
    But the track record of what passes for the bipartisan elite in the U.S. in the last generation has been pretty poor. Instead of sober, dispassionate analysis of long-run trends, considered from the perspective of the nonpartisan national interest, the conventional wisdom among America’s movers and shakers has consisted of one hysterical fad after another.

    contnued…….
    http://www.salon.com/2013/08/15/elites_ruin_everything/

  8. joer
    joer
    August 15, 2013, 5:30 pm

    I am as responsible for this obnoxious display of wealth as an East End scullery maid is as responsible for the ostentatious royal weddings everytime one of the royal dysfunctionals find someone suitable to mate with. I couldn’t even get within shouting distance of that bar mitzvah before I was stopped by security guards. And unless you have some secret stash of millions of dollars, the same thing applies to you too, Phil. And that’s all very fine with me-I can’t stand bar mitzvahs-the ceremony or reception. Even humble ones.

  9. Pamela Olson
    Pamela Olson
    August 15, 2013, 6:02 pm

    Am I the only one who finds that video extremely creepy? Imagine if it was a 12-year-old girl on stage with half a dozen sexually mature scantily-clad men…

    Of course the dynamic would be different then. But it’s pretty weird either way.

    • annie
      annie
      August 15, 2013, 7:31 pm

      i thought that was the creepy part for me too pam, as opposed to any particular jewish thing, but maybe that’s because i am not jewish so i didn’t feel it embarrassed me personally or anything. i’m not sure why phil feels that way because he shouldn’t.

      to me it was about the excesses of the rich, and then the sexist part. there were kids there and it was more nightclub material.

      and on the upside what was clear to me was that the kid clearly loves to dance and he’s good at it. if this is his passion and his party and they can afford it, well, why not? (besides the sexist part) it’s too excessive for my taste but lots of cultures go all out for certain holidays. anybody ever been to a fancy Quinceañera? heavens!

      • Pamela Olson
        Pamela Olson
        August 16, 2013, 11:22 am

        Dancing is great. He can dance until his legs fall off — with age-appropriate partners. Or at least ones that aren’t oozing mature sexuality. But hey, whatever floats that rich kid’s boat.

      • marc b.
        marc b.
        August 16, 2013, 12:00 pm

        it is creepy, annie. most pre-teens are so immersed in this type of softporn, bubblegum sexuality, they don’t even recognize it. I get two types of reactions from my preteen daughter to this: 1. if point out specific lyrics to songs she’s singing along to, she seems surprised that they are as explicit as they are; 2. she and her friends, while completely unaware/unconscious of the ubiquitous sexuality in their favorite media, become extremely uncomfortable when they see, read, hear about sexuality presented in a less explicit but more mature way. don’t know what to make of it. it’s bizarre.

        here’s a bit of the lyrics to a putrid song I don’t let her listen to anymore:

        I’m tryna find the words to describe this girl
        Without being disrespectful

        The way that booty movin’, I can’t take no more
        Have to stop what I’m doin’ so I can pull up close
        I’m tryna find the words to describe this girl
        Without being disrespectful

        Damn, girl
        Damn, you’re a sexy bitch, a sexy bitch
        Damn, you’re a sexy bitch, damn, girl
        Damn, you’re a sexy bitch, a sexy bitch
        Damn, you’re a sexy bitch, damn, girl

        yeah, he wants to find a way to describe the bitch’s ass without being disrespectful. brilliant. what trash.

      • annie
        annie
        August 16, 2013, 1:56 pm

        it sounds to me like all the girls are singing/chanting ‘get it up get it up’ and the kid is 13. i don’t know, kinda tasteless.(maybe ‘get it up’ has some other meaning nowadays but it reminds me of only one thing) i don’t want to sound like a prude or anything, and sure..kids hear this stuff everywhere. but this is a rehearsed performance where they chose the specific song. it reminds me more of a bachelor party setting where you expect the women to take the guy into the back room afterwards. (in reverse even w/the woman pops out of a cake imagery with the boy being revealed in that round white thing) that’s just what came to my mind. sort of a de-virginizing welcome to manhood type thing but in front of an audience with children, little girls shown watching. what kind of message does that send to little girls? they are too young to be indoctrinated into this kind of stereotyping/sexism.

        whereas i thought the invitation video ‘call me maybe’ looked like families having fun in a celebratory way, and if they can afford it and that’s how they want to spend their money, why not.

  10. seafoid
    seafoid
    August 15, 2013, 9:46 pm

    “Here’s another video from Sam Horowitz, said by Haaretz to be the invitation to his bar mitzvah, set to the tune, Call me maybe. ”

    The video reminded me of what Larry Summers said about the Winkelvoss twins.

    http://gawker.com/5823669/facebook-twins-respond-to-larry-summers-asshole-comment
    “One of the things you learn as a college president is that if an undergraduate is wearing a tie and jacket on Thursday afternoon at three o’clock, there are two possibilities. One is that they’re looking for a job and have an interview; the other is that they are an asshole. This was the latter case.”

  11. Keith
    Keith
    August 16, 2013, 6:37 pm

    Talk about old time religion! Lets hear an amen! Is some of this leftover footage from “The Queen of Versailles?” Good to see these eternal victims hiding their fear and despair at least for a little while. No long faces here! Helluva good job of acting, that. Imagine, a 12 year old Jewish Gatsby! I’ll bet the kid’s a genius too.

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