Appropriate Bar Mitzvah Gifts

by Rebekah Richards

Bar and bat mitzvahs are coming-of-age ceremonies that many Jewish boys and girls celebrate when they turn 13. Bar mitzvah translates literally to "son of the commandments"; this ceremony recognizes a person's adoption of adult responsibilities within the Jewish faith. Friends and family traditionally give gifts at the party after the official ceremony. Money, traditional gifts, Jewish gifts and charitable donations all represent appropriate gift options.

Money

Money represents a traditional bar mitzvah gift. Gift cards also make great gifts, since the recipient can then choose a gift of his liking. If you give money or gift cards, consider giving them in a multiple of 18. According to Hebrew numerology, the numeric values of the word "Chai," which translates to "life," sum to a total of 18. Multiples of 18 are therefore considered more auspicious than other numbers. Accompany your gift with a thoughtfully written card; specific bat mitzvah cards are widely available.

Traditional Gifts

Normal birthday gifts are also considered acceptable for bat mitzvahs. Consider the person's interests and choose a gift he would enjoy such as books, CDs, clothes, jewelry, electronics or games. If you're not sure what he would like, ask his parents or close friends, or just choose a gift certificate to ensure he gets the perfect gift.

Judaism-Themed Gifts

You can also choose from many Judaism-themed gifts available in specialty stores or online. For example, you can donate $18 to the Jewish National Fund Trees to have a tree planted in Israel, or search online for dreidels, menorahs, Shabbat candles and other themed gifts. Handcrafted gifts and gifts imported from Israel are both available. Check with a rabbi if you're unsure whether your Jewish-themed gift is appropriate.

Charitable Donations

If you're stuck searching for the perfect gift for the person who seems to have everything, consider making a charitable donation in his name. Choose a charity that matches his interests, make a donation (in an increment of 18, if you desire), and write a thoughtful card about why you chose that charity. You also can combine a charitable donation with another gift, if you desire.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

About the Author

Rebekah Richards is a professional writer with work published in the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "Brandeis University Law Journal" and online at tolerance.org. She graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University with bachelor's degrees in creative writing, English/American literature and international studies. Richards earned a master's degree at Carnegie Mellon University.