Giving the Perfects Gifts for Bar and Bat Mitzvot Occasions

 

The day a young Jewish person becomes bar or bat mitzvah, is one of the most memorable occasions of their lives. In fact, at their ages of 13 for boys and 12 for girls, it is a most momentous religious event and the first which requires their active participation.

The young people study religious texts and historical events for years to qualify for the honor of becoming bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah. They also learn to read biblical Hebrew so that they can study the Torah themselves.

What is appropriate for their age? Who could you ask for hints? Are there “traditional” gifts? How much is a guest or family member expected to spend?

The “Rules” of Bar/Bat Mitzvah Gifts

First, it will help persons who are invited to the bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah but are not Jewish to be aware of bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah customs and traditions.

Bar mitzvah (son of commandments) and bat mitzvah (daughter of commandments) is a religious coming of age ceremony. It is not the same as Christian confirmations.

Rather than a terminus, the event is the beginning of a Jewish religious cycle that continues for a lifetime. Think of it as a birthday into adult religious life.

The religious bar or bat mitzvah ceremony takes place in the synagogue. The celebrant reads that week’s portion of the Torah along with the rabbi in Hebrew in front of the congregation.

The reading is not done in the spoken word, but rather chanted or sung to a traditional melody. After the readings, the celebrant usually delivers a speech to the congregation that relates to the Torah portion just read.

It is a very solemn occasion, although some congregations have a lighthearted moment when the child leaves thebimah (the raised platform at the head of the worship space). Then, the congregation showers him or her with unlit birthday candles.

Giving the Perfects Gifts for Bar and Bat Mitzvot Occasions

The religious ceremony is not the proper place to present gifts. Instead, gifts are presented at the second bar or bat mitzvah that is the celebration.

The celebration can be as simple as having an offering of snacks and drinks in another section of the synagogue, a luncheon in the backyard of the parents or godparents, or a full-blown, fabulous, over-the-top celebration at an entertainment venue.

What are the Best Bat/Bar Mitzvah Gifts?

There is no traditional or proper gift for the bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah. Neither is there a proper amount that the gift should cost. Some experts divide the gift groups into three: religious, much appreciated and money.

The ceremony marks the religious maturity of a young person, but they are still very young. It may take some searching to find the appropriate gift, but there are many bar mitzvah gift ideas available for nearly any child’s interests and needs.

Religious gifts are always appreciated. Some of the religious gifts are meant to be used for a lifetime and should be of the best quality that can be afforded. These are usually given by close relatives.

If you are going to buy gifts like kiddush cups, menorah or Sabbath candlesticks, check with the child’s parents to ensure that the child doesn’t receive a half-dozen of the same thing. Other religious gifts for include books about Judaism, jewelry with a religious meaning or decoration, or many others that can be found online or in a gift shop at a synagogue.

Gifts that are great hits with the bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah crowds are those that are aimed at the child themselves. These can include additions to a hobby collection, music, tickets to concerts or maybe even camping equipment.

One group of friends of a bat mitzvah pooled their money and bought her an e-reader with a large gift card to purchase books and a list of suggestions for books she might enjoy. These gifts are a lot of fun to imagine and buy and a great treat for the child.

Like a wedding, the type and cost of a gift usually depends on whether the giver is a family member, very close friend or a school friend. Normally, the closer the relationship, the more a guest usually spends.

Many gifts are manufactured on kibbutzim in Israel. They are beautiful, unique and your support of Israeli businesses will be appreciated by the recipient.

Why Is it so Important to Find the Best Bat Mitzvah or Bar Mitzvah Gift?

Bar mitzvah gifts and bat mitzvah gifts are more important than birthdays or graduations and are at least the equal to a wedding gift.

There are Sabbath candlesticks, menorah candlesticks, picture frames to hold a photo from the bar mitzvah, Star of David cuff links or bat mitzvah ceremony. Also, a set of kiddush cups is always a great gift for boys or girls.

The gift doesn’t need to be very expensive. It is difficult to keep up with the expense of buying these presents when you or your child is invited to dozens of bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs a year while their friends of the same age are all going through these ceremonies. Imagination, combined with some time and effort, will help decide on the gift that will mean the most to the child.

What to Look for in the Bat Mitzvah or Bar Mitzvah Gift

Bat mitzvah and bar mitzvah ideas for gifts are many and varied. There are many religious items available in stores inside the synagogue, in some stores in larger cities and on-line. If you are confused, ask the child’s parents or the rabbi.

The first and last thing to consider is significance. If you or your child knows the recipient well, it just takes some time and thought to choose a gift that will appeal to the child and mean something special to them. If you don’t know them well, a gift of money is the most common present.

A card expressing your congratulations should accompany the gift. If you are wondering what to include in the card, writing that you congratulate them on their bat or bar mitzvah. The phrase Mazel Tov conveys your best wishes for the day. A handmade card is always a great touch and costs you nothing. If the celebrant is a friend of your child, let them create the card or help you.

Three Best Bat Mitzvah or Bar Mitzvah Gifts that are a Certain Hit

Sabbath candlesticks
A traditional gift to a girl at her bat mitzvah are Sabbath candlesticks.

Usually, two lighted candles usher in the Sabbath and special holidays into the home. One candle is to remember the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8) and the second is to observe the Sabbath day (Deuteronomy 5:12), to delight in and honor the Sabbath.

Each family may have a particular ritual that is special to them. Some families may light a candle for each child or family member, for instance.

The candles are lighted by the women of the home exactly 18 minutes before sundown on the Sabbath Friday. There are special rituals and prayers that usher in the Sabbath world of peace, serenity and grace. After the candles are lit, a special prayer is offered by the woman of the house:

Blessed are you, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the light of the Holy Shabbat.

Adad Ha-Am, a famed Jewish writer, said this about the Sabbath: “More than the Jewish people has kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jewish people.”

This ritual observance ushering in the Sabbath is repeated by Jews the world over, each beginning their Sabbath at exactly the same time. It is a ceremony of inclusion of all the Jews around the globe, no matter how far they are scattered. For these moments, they are all one people.

The Sabbath candlesticks represent a woman’s place of dominance over her home and are meant to last a lifetime. They are usually given to a girl by her close relatives and sometimes several persons contribute to the gift to ensure that the candlesticks are the finest quality possible.

Tzedakah box

Every Jewish child is familiar with the concept of the tzedakah box. The word tzedakah translates as “charity.” No matter how poor, every Jew has a religious imperative to provide for the needy.

When lighting the Sabbath candles in celebration of either the Sabbath or holidays, the family puts money into the tzedakah box on the table. The concept of providing for others in need is instilled very early in every child.

Contributing to this tzedakah box is a mitzvah, or religious imperative or divine obligation. Traditionally, Jews give at least 10 percent of their income to charity and they are among the most charitable people in the world.

In 2003, it was calculated that 24.5 percent of persons who give more than $10 million per year to charity are Jewish. Jews believe that G-d’s can forgive our sins with repentance, prayer and tzedakah. It is considered a serious sin for a Jew to refuse to help when a person in need asks for it.

Some families meet yearly to determine where the money in the box will go. Many contribute to the poor in Israel, to the Jewish National Fund, or other local charities. By having their own tzedakah box, a Jewish child can begin his personal lifelong obligation to think of others before himself.

The tzedakah box can be large or small, fancy or plain. There is no “perfect” design. The box can be of natural materials, glass or metal and in any shape. This is a great gift for either bat mitzvah or bar mitzvah celebrations.

Money. Most bat or bar mitzvah guests give money to the celebrant. Traditionally, the money is given in multiples of eighteen – $18, $36, $72, etc. It is considered lucky, because the 10th and 8th letters in the Hebrew alphabet spell the word “Chai,” which means “Life.” Chai is also the source of the toast: “L’Chaim” which means “To Life”.

Some persons like to give the child a gift certificate or a gift card. The bar mitzvah boy or bat mitzvah girl may have a particular interest that this money can go toward. Otherwise, a gift giver can charge the card with money to go toward an educational goal.

Traditionally, parents deposit the gifts of money into the child’s college fund. The money should not be given in cash, but instead donated by check or gift card. You can be assured that your gift of money will be well-spent and make a real difference in the life of the child.

Many bat mitzvah girls and bar mitzvah boys have decided to save and collect money for a special project. Most often, they want to visit Israel on a very special visit that will connect them with their Jewish roots.

Travelers to Israel will now have an opportunity to stand in the very places they have studied for so long. The Wailing Wall, the Masada fort, a Sabbath celebration in Jerusalem, staying on a kibbutz and more will make a wonderful impression that will last a lifetime. Often, since they are so young, the girls and boys take the trip with their families or a chaperoned group.

To visit Israel for a two or three-week tour with their parents or grandparents, or to save to take a trip the summer after high school graduation to work on a kibbutz, nearly every Jewish child wants to go to Israel. There are even scheduled bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah tours that include the ceremony itself being held in a location of special significance.

Conclusion

When you consider what to buy a bar mitzvah boy or bat mitzvah girl, the secret to a gift of great success is to consider the child, his interests and his future. Just like any gift for any occasion, love is the first ingredient.