At the casino-themed Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces’ Young Leadership gala on Saturday night (a party we deemed the “Jewish Oscars” in 2006, though it doesn’t have any sort of movie theme or awards), there was an enormous wet bar, an expansive buffet and a performance by the rapper Busta Rhymes.
Near the fried-food area of the buffet, we sidled up to a young-looking attendee. He wasn’t eating, just watching the party. We asked him his thoughts; he said it was one of the best fundraisers that he’d ever been to. “And I’m from L.A!” (Land of extravagent fundraisers, apparently.)
“It’s a nice opportunity at a reasonable price,” he said, looking at the crowd. He seemed distracted by a cluster of twenty-something women in humongous heels and prom-ish dresses nearby. “Man, I shoulda worn my kippa tonight. That would have done so much damage.”
We next ran into an excited group of young women near one of the casino tables. We asked if they were enjoying the party. They immediately quieted. One woman leaned forward from the group to answer us.
“Let’s just say I can’t remember the last time I saw so much delicious kosher meat in one place,” she stage-whispered. “And I’m not talking about the buffet!”
They burst out laughing.
According to event co-chair Joshua Dardashtian, a real-estate developer who sits on the executive board of the FIDF, there was actually a lot of “meat” in the Pavilion—attendance was high and the organization plans to break last year’s donation record.
“The event is sold out,” Mr. Dardashtian said. “We didn’t expect that this year with you know, the economy…” He made a down-sloping hand gesture. “But new people got involved, the raffles are better. We’re fortunate to have great donors.”
And is Mr. Dardashtian excited about Busta Rhymes?
“Of course! He’s my man!”
Mr. Rhymes appeared on stage in head-to-toe Louis Vuitton winter-wear. He tried to get the group to be more participatory for most of his performance, stopping a song at one point:
“You’re beautiful!” he said to the crowd. “Women, you’ve got your hairs done, you’re nails done–we might sweat out your pretty hair-dos tonight!” Then he asked, almost quietly: “All of you in the back, could you please put your hands up?”