The Washington Post article on bar mitzvahs that only a Congressman could love really struck a nerve. Sure, it's all fun and games to rent out Wings over the Rockies for Yoni Tidi to do his patented recreation of the Entebbe rescue operation. But there's something fundamentally misdirected about celebrating the onset of adult moral responsibility with Peter Pan-like wish-fulfillment.
In fact, we've been here before. The reason that Jewish funerals use simple pine caskets is to spare the feelings of the poor who could barely scrape together enough for one, while the wealthy were spending money on oak sarcophagi. A similar thing has happened recenly in the Orthodox community, where weddings were turning into family potlatches, with social pressure forcing families to spend more than they had to keep up appearances.
In the spirit of school uniforms, a number of rabbis have since written letters forbidding overdoing it at weddings. In the case of the bar mitzvahs, though, it's unlikely that the offenders are paying attention. Still, with so many real community needs going unmet (East Denver's mikvah, for instance, is closed, pending enough funds to buy a new roof; yes, this is a shameless bleg, and anything at all you feel moved to contribute is greatly appreciated), spending $100K to boost a kid's popularity is warped.
Nobody ever said you can't buy friends, but 50 Cent seems a poor substitute for real community.
UPDATE: Welcome Hugh Hewitt readers. See, now there's a mensch...