A bar mitzvah is one of the most exciting celebrations to be invited to participate in, but often that excitement is followed by panic – did you bring the right gift for such an occasion? Especially if you are less familiar with the Jewish faith, buying a bar mitzvah gift or bat mitzvah gift can be extremely intimidating. You want to give something meaningful, but also don’t want to give something unrelated either.
So, how do you approach giving the boy or girl a gift? In this guide, you’ll find out how!
What is a bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah?
Contrary to what many people may think, a bar mitzvah refers to the day when a boy turns thirteen and must take on the responsibilities of an adult, not the party in celebration of this day. A bat mitzvah refers to when a girl turns twelve and takes on the same responsibilities.
Because this transition is so important in the Jewish faith, many bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs are celebrated with a large party to commemorate a boy becoming an adult. As a result, bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs are often decorous celebrations held at hotels and other high-end locations shortly after the ceremony. Because this occasion is so significant, it’s important to get the person an appropriate and respectful gift.
How much should you spend on a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah gift?
Depending on how well you know the kid celebrating their bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah is a major influence on how much you should spend on their gift.
If you are an acquaintance or friend, plan to spend between $50-$75. If you are a close relative or family friend, you might want to spend anywhere between $100-$150 or even higher. However, if you’re still not sure, consider how much you might spend on the boy or girl’s birthday, then shoot a little higher, as this is a special ceremony!
Should you give money?
Money is a perfectly acceptable gift for someone celebrating their bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah, however, it can be far more rewarding and memorable to hand select a gift for him or her instead. Though gift cards are acceptable, often the intent behind gifting money is so the kid can put this money into his savings account for later.
If you decide to give money as a gift, consider following the common Jewish tradition of giving money in multiples of 18. The reason for this is because “18” in Jewish numerology refers to life, or “chai,” so money gifted using that number is considered a blessing.
Bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah gift ideas
If you want to go the extra mile and give the boy or girl a gift they will remember, here are 11 different ideas for you to give:
A tzedakah box is a beautiful, ornate box designated to collect money for charities. Every week the boy or girl will put a donation in before lighting their Shabbat candles. Given that many people even collect these boxes, it is a great gift idea that promotes charity as well.
A siddur is a Jewish prayer book with daily prayers. Though it is written in Hebrew, you can find a wide variety of translations should you believe the boy or girl might need one.
A kiddush cup is used during ceremonies such as the Shabbat and other Jewish holidays. The word “kiddush” refers to a blessing or sanctification that is recited over the wine in the cup. This is a great gift to give the boy or girl in preparation for the future holidays and ceremonies when they will drink from their own personal cup.
A gift for the musically inclined, a shofar is a ram’s horn that you play like a trumpet. It is used in synagogues to mark the end of a fast or prayer occasions during Rosh Hashanah. In addition to this, it has also been incorporated into some modern songs, making it perfect for any boy or girl interested in music.
Yarmulke or Kippah
Worn by men, the kippah is a small skullcap that comes in many styles and colors. Depending on their beliefs, the young boy may wear this at all times or just during prayer, making it something he will use frequently. However, keep in mind that this is not an appropriate gift for women, so it should be reserved for bar mitzvah gifts only.
A simple but elegant gift, a bookmark inscribed with the boy or girl’s name in Hebrew or the Star of David makes for a great way for them to mark the page in any religious books they may be reading. It could even be a complement to the siddur you get them!
Be it a necklace or ring, jewelry with the Star of David or the Tree of Life on it makes for a timeless gift the boy or girl can wear the rest of their lives!
If you want to give the boy or girl something to store their jewelry in, make it personal with an engraved keepsake box. You can personalize it with their initials or some other significant initials for the occasion.
Though not necessarily as traditional as some of the other options on this list, Torah art provides a way for you to give the boy or girl something unique that they can hang on their wall that is still related to their ceremony. But before seeking out a print, be sure to make sure you double check what portion of the Torah they will be reading from during their ceremony!
Star of David Mug
Much like Torah art, a Star of David mug is less traditional, but still, a practical way for the boy or girl to incorporate their faith in every part of their life, especially if they love coffee! Just keep in mind you’ll probably want to combine this gift with something else, such as a bookmark or necklace.
As the boy or girl reads the Torah, they will often use a Torah pointer to keep track of their place during a public reading. There are many different options and styles to choose from, from the more modern styles to the traditional and ornate ones.
A bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah is one of the most important celebrations in a Jewish boy or girl’s life. Though it may seem difficult to decide what the best gift might be for someone that young, remember that it is a spiritual ceremony, so you’ll want to go beyond something they’ll use once and forget!
Opt for a timeless piece that they’ll be sure to keep forever or, if you’re still struggling, look for something geared towards teens!