Bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah presents may be birthday gifts but the kind of gifts expected are slightly different. Here are a few of the most popular bar mitzvah gift ideas and also a few refreshingly original bar mitzvah gift ideas. Forgive me for referring to a bar mitzvah instead of a bat mitzvah throughout the article, but most of the gifts apply to both genders.
Money as a bar mitzvah gift
The most popular and practical bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah gift is money. This can be in the form of a check, cash or a gift voucher/certificate. In Israel money is not only a convenient bar mitzvah gift but also quite essential as bar mitzvah events in Israel are extremely expensive and the gift money is usually used to pay for the celebration. If the parents can afford the bar mitzvah party then the money will go to the bar mitzvah boy and he can either save it or use it to buy something he really wants.
Monetary bar mitzvah gifts are often given in multiples of 18 ($18, $36, $54…) as in gematria (where the Hebrew letters each have a numerical value) "chi" or life has the numerical value of 18.
The amount of money to give for a bar mitzvah gift, is up to you.
Judaica as a bar mitzvah gift
There are several items related to the Jewish traditions and mitzvoth which can make meaningful and lasting bar mitzvah gifts, however make sure you ask the mother of the bar mitzvah boy if anyone else is buying him these items as they are the kind of items he will only need one of.
For example there is a set of Havdala silver, this includes a silver tray, candle holder, goblet and spice or perfume holder. These items are used in the blessings made at the end of Shabbat to usher in the new week.
A Jewish prayer shawl (tallit), prayer book or etsba (this is a silver pointer used to guide the Torah reader by pointing to the place he is reading from). A pair of silver candle sticks is a special bat mitzvah gift so long as no one else is already buying her a pair. A Hannukia (the candelabra lit on Hannuka) or other items used during the various Jewish holidays also make long lasting bar mitzvah gifts. Go into any Judaica store and they will help you pick out an appropriate bar or bat mitzvah gift related to the Jewish faith.
Jewelry as a bar or bat mitzvah gift
You can find necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets with Jewish symbols on them which will not only be great pieces of jewelry but also tie into the theme of the event. Appropriate Jewish symbols include the Star of David (Megen David), the Hebrew letters for life – "chi" , other jewelry can be bought with a specific Kabalistic blessing on it or even the bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah child's name written in Hebrew. A wrist watch also makes a classic bar or bat mitzvah gift. If you are a family member then a piece of jewelry which has been in the family for years is a wonderful and meaningful bar or bat mitzvah gift.
Bar mitzvah gifts relating to manhood
Gifts relating to the bar mitzvah boy's new found manhood can make interesting gifts. There are books giving advice to teens and tweens about their new found independence and responsibilities. He will probably be allowed out more now that he is older so a key ring would be appropriate. Any modern gadget which adults usually have like a mobile phone, camera or computer accessories would make more expensive bar mitzvah gifts. Skin care and hair products for budding teens may help them feel grown up and get through the awkward teen years. How about a good leather wallet for all the bar mitzvah cash they will hopefully be getting.
Bar mitzvah gifts relating to boyhood
Let's not forget that bar mitzvah boys and bat mitzvah girls are still kids so a simple gift that a kid would enjoy would also make their day. Gadgets like MP4s or computer games, scooters, play stations, game boys, CDs, clothing vouchers, sports equipment or any other item which the child is interested in. You could even get a bat mitzvah girl a Twinn look-a-like doll which is custom made to look like her!
Give an experience as a bar mitzvah gift
If you want to give the bar mitzvah boy a gift he hasn't got give him an experience. Find out if there are any adventurous activities in your area and give him or her a voucher for an unusual out of this world experiences. For example a hot air balloon ride, a flight in a light aircraft, a parachute jump, swimming with dolphins, a hand gliding flight, a horse riding lesson, surfing lesson, tickets to a concert or sports game, scuba diving course, safari excursion or trip to a nearby amusement park. You could also pay for membership in a club that the bar mitzvah boy is interested in. On some hotel and airline websites you can buy gift vouchers so that you could give the bar mitzvah child a trip!
Books as bar mitzvah gifts
I have already mentioned several books you could give as a bar mitzvah gift including a Jewish prayer book (Sidur) or a book about coming into manhood but there are other books which will last a lifetime. Although we are in the computer age good reference books or coffee table books are a lifelong treasure. For a bat mitzvah gift you could give the birthday girl a book about Jewish heroines. A book of Jewish history or a book explaining the meaning of reaching bar mitzvah age.
There are inexpensive books which list all 613 of the mitzvoth which a bar mitzvah boy will now be eligible to perform. You could also get a set of the five books of Moses – Chumash – in Hebrew and English, these books can be used by the bar mitzvah boy in Jewish studies and in Temple every Shabbat. Buying a bar mitzvah boy or bat mitzvah girl an empty diary or scrapbook can also open them up to a new hobby. Bat mitzvah girls might like a cookery book.
Bar mitzvah related gifts
There are several gifts which relate to the mitzvoth which the bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah girl will now be taking upon themselves. For the girls it is mainly the lighting of the Shabbat candles and prayer, so you could give candle sticks or a prayer book. For non-orthodox girls you could also get them a prayer shawl and kippa.For boys they will now need a set of Tefillin, a prayer shawl, kippot, perhaps an etsba, tsitsit and a prayer book.
Personal bar mitzvah gifts
To make your bar mitzvah gift more personal you could give the birthday boy a framed photo of himself or a photo montage of the boy's first 13 years, on a disc to watch for years to come. A personal photo album or scrapbook of the bar mitzvah boy's life up until now with personal footnotes makes a great bar or bat mitzvah gift. If you are a family member make a family tree as a bar mitzvah gift, you can make it yourself or get a professional to design it for you. For a bar mitzvah gift you can give her a box or book of family recipes hand written for her to use in future years.
Another sentimental and meaningful bar or bat mitzvah gift is a collection of family tales collected from the child's older relatives and bound as a family history. Another idea is to have a star named after the bar mitzvah boy. Why not create a scrapbook of the events which took place in the year of the bar mitzvah boy's birth or in the first 13 years of his life.
You can always a make a donation to a charity as your bar mitzvah gift but think carefully if this will be appreciated by the bar mitzvah boy or his parents.
The thought is really what counts and be it money or a more personal gift any bar mitzvah celebration needs friends and family to celebrate with more than it needs gifts so the best gift you could give is to participate in the boy or girls bar or bat mitzvah celebration.
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