Mark Zuckerberg Eats Kosher in Rome

I’m all for letting Mark Zuckerberg and his new wife Priscilla Chan honeymoon in peace, but I couldn’t resist blogging about two noteworthy events that occurred during the newlyweds’ Italian vacation.

First, the Facebook Founder and CEO took his bride to a *kosher restaurant in the Jewish area in Rome. The couple dined at Nonna Betta where they spent 32 euros on lunch. There’s no word on why Zuckerberg decided to visit the Jewish section of Rome or why he and Priscilla chose a kosher restaurant for lunch.

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan at a kosher restaurant in Rome.

At Nonna Betta, Zuckerberg and Chan ate traditional Roman Jewish delicacies including deep-fried artichokes, fried pumpkin flowers and ravioli stuffed with sea bass and artichokes. To drink they each had a glass of water and shared a pot of hot tea.

In addition to Zuck’s decision to eat kosher (“When in Rome!”) the second notable aspect of the couple’s Roman visit was the young billionaire’s failure to tip at the restaurant. Waiters at Nonna Betta reported that Zuckerberg acknowledged he was Mark Zuckerberg and then neglected to leave a gratuity. That’s an odd omission from someone who’s portfolio increases by approximately a billion dollars every time the Facebook stock goes up two points (since its IPO the stock has actually decreased by about 25%).

The restaurant receipt from Mark Zuckerberg’s lunch at a kosher restaurant in Rome.

It’s possible that Zuckerberg thinks that it’s unnecessary to tip in Rome since he reportedly didn’t leave a tip the night before at a dinner at Pierluigi (not kosher), a historic trattoria in the heart of Rome. In all fairness to Zuckerberg, it doesn’t look like there was any place to add a tip on the receipt (above).

Perhaps Zuckerberg and Chan will continue to seek out kosher fare when they return to Palo Alto. On behalf of the waitstaff I just hope he learns to tip!

*UPDATE: Nonna Betta restaurant in Rome is no longer certified kosher. Tourists should consult a local rabbi regarding the kosher status of this restaurant.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Mark Zuckerberg Gets Interfaith Married to Priscilla Chan

In the run up to the big Facebook initial public offering this past week, the media went Facebook crazy and tried to get interviews from everyone who has ever been connected to Mark Zuckerberg. Of course that included the rabbi of his childhood congregation.

In an article on The Scarsdale Daily website, Rabbi David Holtz of Temple Beth Abraham was quoted about his memories of Mark Zuckerberg attending his Reform temple in Tarrytown, New York. Rabbi Holtz reminisced about Zuckerberg’s family and recalled the Facebook founder’s “Star Wars” themed bar mitzvah fifteen years ago. Rabbi Holtz also mentioned a congregational trip to Israel that the Zuckerberg family took when Mark Zuckerberg was fifteen-years-old. Rabbi Holtz called Zuckerberg a thoughtful and insightful teen. I don’t know if Zuckerberg plans to donate any of his fortune to the synagogue of his youth, but hopefully, at the very least, he’ll be willing to help the congregation improve its website.

As if this week wasn’t already exciting enough for Zuckerberg with his billion dollar company going public, he also made a very important change to his Facebook profile’s status tonight when he updated it to “Married”. Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Timeline now features the headline “Married Priscilla Chan” (with over 1 million likes). With that update, Zuckerberg is added to the list of famous Jews who have married outside of the faith.

Apparently the timing of the wedding had no connection to Facebook’s IPO. Rather, the couple was waiting for Priscilla Chan to graduate from medical school at the University of California San Francisco. Zuckerberg’s bride graduated on Monday from UCSF Medical School, which was coincidentally Zuckerberg’s 28th birthday.

Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan were married earlier today in a small ceremony in the backyard of his Palo Alto home. There is no word yet on who officiated the ceremony. However, I know the family has a nice relationship with Rabbi Laura Baum of Congregation Beth Adam and OurJewishCommunity.org (she’s also my colleague through the CLAL Rabbi’s Without Borders fellowship). Rabbi Baum officiated at the bris of Mark Zuckerberg’s nephew Asher a year ago. It is possible that Rabbi Baum officiated at the wedding through her connection with Zuckerberg’s sister and brother-in-law Randi Zuckerberg and Brent Tworetzky.

As an adult Mark Zuckerberg has claimed he is an atheist, so it is also possible that his wedding ceremony was not officiated by a rabbi, but was a completely secular ceremony conducted by a justice of the peace, or even a friend who became licensed in California for the occasion.

According to the AP, the wedding guests all thought they were coming to celebrate Priscilla Chan’s graduation from medical school, but were told after they arrived that the event was in fact a wedding. From the wedding photo released by Facebook, it does not appear that Mark Zuckerberg was wearing a yarmulke as he did at his sister Randi’s wedding to Tworetzky on a beach a few years ago.

I’m sure that more information will be released about Zuckerberg’s wedding this coming week. Of course, the big question for the Jewish community will be whether Zuckerberg and Chan plan to raise their future children in the Jewish faith. In other words, will a future Zuckerberg heir also have a “Star Wars” themed bar mitzvah?

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Rabbi Seeks Young Wife for Cheaper Health Insurance

When I first read the headline of this NPR blog post (“For Love Or Insurance? Rabbi Seeks Young Wife To Lower Health Costs”) I couldn’t even imagine what this was all about. It turns out there’s a rabbi in Florida who needs better health insurance coverage and is looking for a young wife to make it happen.

Turns out that Rabbi Craig Ezring, a nursing home chaplain, was able to get decent insurance before his wife died. He and his wife established a small corporation to procure health insurance, but when his wife died four years ago his rates soared 38 percent to over $18,000 just to cover him. The 56-year-old rabbi comes from a very rabbinic family. His father Abraham Ezring is an Orthodox rabbi in Florida and all of his brothers are rabbis as well, including Rabbi Murray Ezring, a Conservative rabbi in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The NPR blog post isn’t the first time Rabbi Craig Ezring has made news. In 2005, his funny yet insightful “Dear Abby” letter was published. Ezring letter titled “Oy Vey! Rabbi Is Exposed to Patient’s Discomfort,” told the story of how Ezring, as a chaplain, would visit hospital patients wearing a three-piece suit. One patient, he explained, felt terribly uncomfortable lying there “in a hospital gown with her tuchas sticking out” while the rabbi sat there in a three-piece suit. So, Ezring went to the nurse’s station and changed into a hospital gown. The patient was then relaxed enough to share her concerns with the rabbi/chaplain.

He concludes, “The visit took a little longer than usual, and when I finished our session with a prayer for healing, I rose from the chair. As I did, the sound as my thighs ripped themselves from the Naugahyde brought a huge smile to both our faces. I was laughing so hard I forgot to hold the back of the gown as I headed back down the hall — so I was exposed… Fortunately, the nurses had a sense of humor. One said, ‘Not a bad tush for a rabbi!'”

Rabbi Ezring explains in his “Dear Abby” letter that he learned an important lesson that day. Abby commends him for his sensitivity and creativity. She writes, “Your suit may have been off for her, but my hat is off to you for going the extra mile to make a difference in a sick woman’s life. Your method may have been unorthodox, but your message of healing far surpassed any fashion statement.”

Now back to the rabbi’s search for a young bride who will help lower his health insurance rates. From the NPR blog post:

When Rabbi Craig Ezring’s annual health insurance costs soared 38 percent this year to a whopping $18,636, he did more than just complain.

He went looking for a young wife.

For several years, the Boca Raton, Fla., rabbi had been getting coverage through a small corporation he formed with his wife. When she died four years ago, he thought the cost of his insurance coverage would drop. Instead it rose.

That’s partly because Ezring, 56, had a heart bypass surgery a couple of years ago. Nonetheless, he said he’s still quite healthy, and does ballroom and Latin dancing twice a week.

When he got his latest health insurance bill in August, Ezing said he almost had a heart attack.

An insurance broker told him his small business insurance rate is based on the age of the owner of the company. So, Ezring posted on his blog that he was looking for a younger woman who wouldn’t mind marrying him to help him get cheaper coverage.

“Give some thought to the possibility of marrying me … a good insurance plan is all I ask,” he wrote. “Okay there maybe one or two other things I ask for, but sadly, right now insurance has become a top priority.”

Ezring, a rabbi at several nursing homes and assisted living facilities in South Florida, said he’s had a few “comical offers” of marriage in response to his plea, including one asking if he wanted to move to South Carolina.

Ezring said his insurer, UnitedHealthcare, has been good to him: The company makes sure he gets services he needs and can see the doctors he wants. But with the latest rate hike, he feels like he’s working mostly just to afford his health coverage. He’s shopped for other policies, but other companies won’t offer him coverage.

When told that Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who vehemently opposes the federal health overhaul, is only paying about $400 a year for his state-subsidized health insurance, Ezring chuckled. “It would be lovely if everyone could pay that amount for really good insurance,” he said.

Rabbi Ezring seems like a pretty funny (and creative) guy. I wish him well in his quest to get less expensive health insurance, but even if he isn’t successful in that endeavor at least he was able to spread the word about how expensive medical coverage is in our country.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Razoo Corrects Its Israel Problem

Here’s my recent post on the Jewish Techs blog for The Jewish Week

If you didn’t receive numerous email solicitations from non-profit organizations during the final week of 2010, then your email server was likely down.

Many of these charitable organizations that sent year end pleas for your contributions have begun using Razoo.com, which claims to have raised more than $42 million for thousands of worthy causes. Razoo’s LinkedIn profile describes the company as “a new way to give and raise money online. We offer visually engaging and inspiring content along with easy-to-use, free tools for individuals and nonprofit organizations to raise awareness, raise funds, connect, and share.” The company is led by CEO Sebastian Traeger, based in Washington D.C.

When I received an email solicitation from eJewishPhilanthropy, I clicked the link and was introduced to the Razoo website. Within minutes, I set up a fundraising account for my congregation. I’ve since noticed that many Jewish non-profits are using Razoo for online donations. I’ve been very pleased with the website thus far.

Yesterday, eJewishPhilanthropy’s founder Dan Brown wrote an op-ed on the eJP website asking “Does Razoo Have an Israel Problem?” He wrote:

Two weeks ago, during the peak week for online donations, we had several people who live in Israel contact us to indicate they could not donate through Razoo’s platform as Israel was not an option listed on their country list (see above). We contacted Razoo, who responded:

“Due to high rates of fraud, we do not accept donations from cardholders in the following countries: Israel, Ukraine, Indonesia, Serbia, Lithuania, Egypt, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Russia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Nigeria and Ghana. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this causes for you and the work you are doing. Our chief goal is to protect the integrity of the giving process for all parties involved: non-profits, donors, fundraisers, and Razoo. At first glance, one would think, ok Israel is not being singled out; we’re one of several. But a little checking around told us that you could not only use a credit card with an Israel billing address on the likes of Amazon and eBay, but also on nonprofit giving platforms including Blackbaud, Convio and even Global Giving. In terms of online payments, these are pretty large global organizations so one expects they’re current on credit card fraud problems around the world.”

Today, Dan Brown sent out an update that alerted readers of eJewishPhilanthropy that Razoo was changing its policy on accepting Israeli credit cards. He sent a “shout-out to both the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and J-Town Productions who were also proactive in pushing this issue.” The company released the following statement:

Razoo respects its donors and nonprofits without discrimination, and aims to to provide a safe and trusted online environment for donors to contribute to the 501(c)(3)s they care about. Razoo’s intent was not in any way to make political statements towards any country’s legitimacy. After evaluating our fraud policies, we have taken steps to address the situation to allow donations from Israel and appreciate valuable feedback from organizations like yours. We are planning to launch the new functionality on Wednesday, January 12th or on Thursday, January 13th.

Kudos for Razoo and Sebastian Traeger for acting so quickly in correcting this oversight.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Israel Pays Porn Website Owner $3K for @Israel Twitter Name

Cross-posted to Jewish Techs (The NY Jewish Week)

The Web can be a misleading place. For years, if you typed whitehouse.com into your browser, it wouldn’t take you to the official home of our President on the Web, but rather to the home of a pornographic Web site.

In 2004, the owner of that website decided to get out of the seedy porn site business because his oldest child was about to begin kindergarten and he was afraid of what the other parents might think. The LA Times reported that Daniel Parisi started Whitehouse.com in 1997 and it “has frequently been confused with the official government site Whitehouse.org.”

Earlier this week, it was reported that the Israeli government purchased the Twitter account @israel for a six-figure sum from a pornographic Web site owner. More recent accounts, however, have Israeli officials denying the claims of a six-figure payment, yet confirming that they gained access of the Twitter handle in exchange for $3,000.

The Jerusalem Post quotes Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor, who said the selling price was significantly lower than that originally asked by its owner, Miami-based Spanish citizen Israel Melendez, who also runs a porn Web site. “I won’t go into the details of the negotiations, but originally he asked for a five-digit sum and all we paid him was $3,000, period,” Palmor said. (Those sound like details to me!)

The New York Times and MSNBC.com both ran stories about the transfer of the Twitter name. Melendez opened his @Israel Twitter account in 2007 but was soon harassed by users who thought it belonged to the Israeli government. On August 26, the Israeli government took over the account from Melendez and tweeted the following: “The IsraelMFA twitter account name has been changed to @Israel. Look for us here: twitter.com/israel.”

Already, the new Twitter account has claimed over 7,000 followers. It is evident that Israel is moving full steam ahead in the social media realm with increased activity on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube.

I’m not sure who counseled Israel Melendez to settle for only $3,000 for the Twitter name (perhaps the Shin Bet?), but hopefully he’s a smarter businessman in his other endeavor.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

The LeBron Decision From a Jewish Perspective

Aside from NBA star LeBron James leaving one Jewish NBA franchise owner in Cleveland (Quicken Loans and Rock Financial chairman Dan Gilbert) and going to work for another Jewish NBA franchise owner in Miami (Israeli-American CEO of Carnival Corporation Micky Arison), there are several Jewish themes and lessons in “The Decision” of which team the free agent would sign with.

Ne’emanut (Loyalty) – In the last couple of decades there has been very little loyalty among professional athletes. In a bygone era, a city’s fans could expect their star player to stick with the franchise from his rookie season until his retirement when he would be awarded a coaching or front office position. With free agency, loyalty is out the window. High profile athletes in free agency have their agents shop them around to the highest bidding teams. Last night, LeBron James decided he would leave Cleveland sans a championship ring and head down to South Beach, Florida because he wanted to win a championship and figured that the Miami Heat with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would be his best shot. I’m sure building a Shaq-like estate on Biscayne Bay or Millionaire’s Row had something to do with the decision too, not that I have anything against LeBron’s hometown and current city Akron, Ohio.

Anivut (humility) – Realistically, I don’t expect many NBA superstars to be humble — the few guys in the league who are humble are widely praised as anomalies in the sport. These are guys who grew up with very little and became millionaires with their first signed contract. They live glamorous lifestyles, their image is worth millions, and their endorsement deals add millions more to their net worth. However, the way LeBron handled his free agency decision was embarrassing. The hour-long ESPN prime-time special in which he announced he’d leave Cleveland for Miami had LeBron sitting across from Jim Gray, whom he chose as his interviewer, and in the background were rows of children from the Boys and Girls Club sitting silently. I fault his management team and agent for not using better judgment and letting their mega-star client know how badly this would look to the world.

Malachim (Kings) – We know from the Bible that kings are flawed individuals. LeBron had no problem coming out of high school, signing a mega-contract with the Cavaliers, and proclaiming himself “The King.” It was a title he had yet to earn in the NBA, but he made a personal franchise out of it. While other superstars helped their teams win rings, King James would earn no ring in Cleveland. Today, Dan Gilbert (pictured) issued a letter to Cavaliers fans and finally expressed his own long-held opinions about his franchise player. To the Cleveland fans he wrote, “You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.” He accused LeBron of giving up and tanking it in the playoffs this year (and also in last year’s post-season). Gilbert’s words lead us to believe that like the kings of the Bible, James is a flawed individual. He put himself before his teammates and the fans who supported him and paid for the tickets, souvenirs, and apparel that kept his stock high.

The people of Cleveland have every right to feel betrayed by LeBron. Superstar athletes may come and go, but the way LeBron handled this free agency decision was all wrong and hurtful to his fans (no fans, NBA; no NBA, no multi-million dollar contracts). Perhaps Cavs owner Dan Gilbert said it best and his words that transcend the NBA. I hope all pro athletes will take Gilbert’s words to heart.

He said, “It’s not about him leaving. It’s the disrespect. It’s time for people to hold these athletes accountable for their actions. Is this the way you raise your children? I’ve been holding this all in for a long time.”

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Meatless Michigan?

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has taken quite a bit of criticism over her recent “no meat on Saturdays” proclamation. Or, as Brian Dickerson of the Detroit Free Press wrote: Gov. Jennifer Granholm is in “a tall vat of deep-fried tofu.”

Granholm reasoned that in Michigan, a state hit hard by the economic recession, it’s become more difficult to feed the family meat meals. Essentially, she was just trying to help Michiganders save money during challenging times. However, like Oprah Winfrey a few years ago, Granholm neglected to consider how a move to vegetarianism would affect the agricultural industry. Obviously, Michigan farmers were less than thrilled by the governor’s meatless idea, even if it was only intended for one day of the week.

But there’s another segment of Michigan’s population that Governor Granholm didn’t consider: The non-vegetarian Jewish citizens of Michigan who enjoy eating meat for Shabbat lunch on Saturdays. While kosher meat is certainly more expensive than the tofu the governor is recommending, there are a good number of Jewish people who enjoy a hot meat-filled cholent on Saturday afternoon.

I think Granholm’s intentions were good, but I’m just not willing to forgo cholent, chicken, or even a turkey sandwich following Shabbat services on Saturdays. And I can certainly understand how this weekly push for vegetarianism would hurt local farmers financially.

Maybe Brian Dickerson put it best when he wrote: “Granholm and other politicians should take note: No one likes being told what’s good for them — unless they’re paying a cardiologist for the privilege.”

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Good Yichus: Names and Heritage

In Judaism there is a concept called “yichus,” which basically means lineage or pedigree.  In popular parlance “good yichus” is used to describe someone with connections to a distinguished family. I was thinking about this term the other day while reading Time Magazine’s very witty Joel Stein’s column.  Stein decided to research his geneology and see what kind of yichus he has. He did this reluctantly at the urging of Friends star Lisa Kudrow who is the executive-producer of NBC’s upcoming Who Do You Think You Are?

Kudrow tried to convince Stein to care about his own past, even though he believes, “What my great-great-great-grandfather did isn’t any more interesting to me than what your great-great-great-grandfather did, especially since in both cases it was farming.” Somewhere in the article, hidden between Stein’s jokes, he realizes that he’s actually interested in learning more about his family tree including his great-grandfather Reuben who left Russia to avoid army service. In fact, his search to uncover more information about his heritage leads him to reconnect with a cousin, who provided more insight into their yichus.

I read two other articles that day that focused on bad yichus. The first article was about Bernard Madoff’s daughter-in-law who went to court to legally change her last name, along with her children’s last name. To avoid embarrassment and the occasional death threat, Stephanie Madoff filed court papers in Manhattan asking to change her last name to Morgan. As I read this news, I thought of my good friend who was so excited to recently learn that his wife is pregnant with a boy who will carry on his family’s last name into the next generation. Names are so important to us because they are the link to our history; to previous generations of our family. With the Madoff case, here was an example in which Bernie Madoff’s son Mark watched his children be stripped of his last name in order to lose the link to that part of their heritage.

Finally, I read about the upcoming book written by the son of a Hamas leader who reveals that he spied for Israel. Mosab Hassan Yousef, the 32-year-old Palestinian who converted to Christianity, escaped the West Bank in 2007. In his memoir “Son of Hamas,” he discusses his years as one of Israel’s most valued informants inside the Hamas terrorist organization. This is an example in which both father and son are angered and ashamed of their yichus. The JTA reports today that “Sheik Hassan Yousef, who has been held in an Israeli prison since 2005, said in a statement released Monday that he, his wife and other children disown his oldest son (who worked undercover for Israel’s Shin Bet agency for ten years). The statement reportedly was smuggled out of the prison.” And on the flip side, the son has disassociated himself from his terrorist father.

So, yichus can be both positive and negative. Some are proud of their heritage and others are ashamed of it. Either way, however, a family tree tells the narrative.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Economy & Faith

Many people are looking to religion and spirituality during this time of economic uncertainty (a euphemism for recession). The title of a recent article on the Time Magazine website asks: “Is it Okay to Pray for Your 401(k)?”

My friend and mentor Rabbi Danny Nevins (dean of the rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary) is quoted in the article.

“Daniel Nevins also recognizes the legitimacy of the ‘help me’ prayer, noting that the third of four prayers that religious Jews are expected to recite after meals asks God to ‘grant us relief from all our troubles. May we never find ourselves in need of gifts or loans from flesh and blood, but may we rely only upon your helping hand, which is open, ample and generous.’ “

Christian and Muslim religious leaders are quoted in the article as well.

Rabbi Nevins continues, “When I ask God for help, I’m not asking for an extra miracle, for a great hand to drop a wad of cash on my mortgage.” Such supernatural interventions may occur, he says, “but I just don’t know how to prove that.”

Rabbi Allan Lehmann (left), a colleague of mine who is the associate dean at the Hebrew College Rabbinical School, wrote a Hosha Na prayer for the economy. Since Monday is the Hoshana Rabba holiday and we could certainly use some saving during our country’s financial crisis, I include the prayer below with Rabbi Lehmann’s permission.

Hosha-na!– save our:

Accounts from Arrearages
Balances from Bear Markets
Credits from Crunches
Dividends from Downturns
Earnings from Erosions
Farms from Foreclosures
Grants from Going away
Homesteads from Hammering
Investments form Insolvency
Jobs from Jinxes
Keogh plans from Kicking the bucket
Loans from Losses
Markets from Madness
Net worth from Negativity
Options from Overheating
Pensions from Penury
Quantities from Quandaries
Retirement from Rollbacks
Scholarships from Screwups
Treasury form Trouble
Usufruct from Uncollectibility
Venture capital from Volatility
Wall Street from Welfare
X-dividends from Extirpation
Yields from Yukkiness
Zedaka from Zero sum games

Hosha-Na…Ani Vaho Hoshi’a-na!

UPDATE: I neglected to include another interesting article on this topic. Time Magazine also published an article entitled “The Financial Crisis: What Would the Talmud Do?” In this article, my Talmud instructor from The Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Eliezer Diamond, raises a good point concerning the ethics of making money: “What any religious tradition calls on us to ask is, ‘how can I make money and simultaneously be a responsible member of the society in which I live, protecting the interests of both the buyer and seller?”

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Bat Mitzvahpalooza: The Most Lavish Bat Mitzvah Party

From the NY Daily News

History will forever record Elizabeth Brooks’ bat mitzvah as “Mitzvahpalooza.”

For his daughter’s coming-of-age celebration last weekend, multimillionaire Long Island defense contractor David H. Brooks booked two floors of the Rainbow Room, hauled in concert-ready equipment, built a stage, installed special carpeting, outfitted the space with Jumbotrons and arranged command performances by everyone from 50 Cent to Tom Petty to Aerosmith.

I hear it was garish display of rock ‘n’ roll idol worship for which the famously irascible CEO of DHB Industries, a Westbury-based manufacturer of bulletproof vests, sent his company jet to retrieve Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from their Saturday gig in Pittsburgh.

I’m also told that in honor of Aerosmith (and the $2 million fee I hear he paid for their appearance), the 50-year-old Brooks changed from a black-leather, metal-studded suit – accessorized with biker-chic necklace chains and diamonds from Chrome Hearts jewelers – into a hot-pink suede version of the same lovely outfit.

The party cost an estimated $10 million, including the price of corporate jets to ferry the performers to and from. Also on the bill were The Eagles’ Don Henley and Joe Walsh performing with Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks; DJ AM (Nicole Richie’s fiance); rap diva Ciara and, sadly perhaps (except that he received an estimated $250,000 for the job), Kenny G blowing on his soprano sax as more than 300 guests strolled and chatted into their pre-dinner cocktails.

“Hey, that guy looks like Kenny G,” a disbelieving grownup was overheard remarking – though the 150 kids in attendance seemed more impressed by their $1,000 gift bags, complete with digital cameras and the latest video iPod.

For his estimated $500,000, I hear that 50 Cent performed only four or five songs – and badly – though he did manage to work in the lyric, “Go shorty, it’s your bat miztvah, we gonna party like it’s your bat mitzvah.”

At one point, I’m told, one of Fitty’s beefy bodyguards blocked shots of his boss performing and batted down the kids’ cameras, shouting “No pictures! No pictures!” – even preventing Brooks’ personal videographers and photographers from capturing 50 Cent’s bat-miztvah moment.

“Fitty and his posse smelled like an open bottle of Hennessy,” a witness told told me, adding that when the departing rapper prepared to enter his limo in the loading dock, a naked woman was spotted inside.

I’m told that Petty’s performance – on acoustic guitar – was fabulous, as was the 45-minute set by Perry and Tyler, who was virtuosic on drums when they took the stage at 2:45 a.m. Sunday.

Henley, I hear, was grumpy at the realization that he’d agreed to play a kids’ party.

I’m told that at one point Brooks leapt on the stage with Tyler and Perry, who responded with good grace when their paymaster demanded that his teenage nephew be permitted to sit in on drums. At another point, I’m told, Tyler theatrically wiped sweat off Brooks’ forehead – and then dried his hand with a flourish.

Yesterday, Brooks disputed many details provided to me by Lowdown spies at the affair and by other informed sources, scrawling on a fax to me: “All dollar figures vastly exaggerated.”

He added: “This was a private event and we do not wish to comment on details of the party.”

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller