Bar mitzvah -- or Broadway show?
A video of an over-the-top celebration has quickly gone viral, drawing new attention to these parties' sometimes lavish side.
The very elaborate and choreographed spectacle included chorus girls, intricate lighting and Sam's entrance from large white chandelier that descended to the stage in front of 400 guests gathered at a hotel.
While the event's cost hasn't been revealed, Sam's mother told CBS 11 News her son worked right up to the big party raising money for underprivileged kids in Israel as part of the bar mitzvah ritual.
Bar mitzvahs, or bat mitzvahs for girls, are an important coming-of-age ritual in the Jewish faith. But for those with the money to spend, the after-party side of the religious event can become a very lavish affair.
Emitz.com, the all-things-bar-mitzvah website, says with some planning and creativity, parents can spend as little as $2,500 for their child's party. But according to industry estimates the site quoted, the average bar mitzvah costs between $15,000 to $30,000. And, of course, some people have been known to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"These costly celebrations boast game rooms for the kids that rival carnival midways, emcees, Broadway dancers, the occasional drag queen, slickly produced video tributes to the birthday boy or girl, even Las Vegas headliners," New York Magazine wrote about these so-called "bash mitzvahs," several years ago. "Natalie Cole did a bar mitzvah on the aircraft carrier Intrepid. ... Her fee: $150,000 for 30 minutes."
And while many families cut back on bar mitzvah celebrations and spending during the depths of the recession, the off-the-chain versions are apparently making a comeback. It's gotten to the point that, according to NY Magazine, a senior rabbi at a city synagogue told his congregation the social side of bar mitzvahs had gotten out of hand.
"I often wonder what we are teaching our children," he wrote in the synagogue newsletter, "when materialistic concerns seem to overwhelm the spiritual at the precise moment when we very much wish to teach otherwise."
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Reports say the generous benefactor behind the huge gratuities is a former PayPal executive.
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