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Mitzvahpalooza, Tom Petty

Mitzvahpalooza, Tom Petty


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Elizabeth Brooks’ bat mitzvah will always be called “Mitzvahpalooza.” Her father, David, died in jail on Nov. 1, 2018, serving a 17-year sentence after being convicted in 2010 for his role in what prosecutors described as a $200 million fraud.

In 2005, he spared no expense to celebrate his daughter’s Jewish coming of age. Brooks, CEO of DHB Industries, a Westbury-based manufacturer of bulletproof vests, went so far as dispatching his company jet to retrieve Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from their concert in Pittsburgh. The garish display of rock ‘n’ roll idol worship was over the top.

But the top moment for me was the moment I walked into the lounge, set up with tables laden with deserts, and a simple riser with a chair and an electric piano at the front of the room. We all sat on the floor at the feet of Tom Petty, who smoked from the minute he sat down and strummed magical music through his guitar. At one point he looked at me and said “Is this really a bat mitzvah? That’s what they told me on the car ride over.” As I shook my head yes, he launched into “Well, I won’t back down” and all thoughts of the Brooks' disappeared for me. It was 45-minutes that I will never forget with one of my all-time favorite performers. It still is one of my favorite photographs.

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