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A Bar Mitzvah is a once-in-a-lifetime event. It marks a young man’s transition from childhood to adulthood, and has enormous spiritual importance.
But for the boy celebrating, one part of the event stands out in particular: the presents!
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What Happens At a Bar Mitzvah Party?
There are two components to a Bar Mitzvah: the synagogue ceremony, and the celebration. Bar Mitzvah Gifts should be brought to the latter. While the event at the synagogue follows a specific traditional itinerary, what happens at the party will largely depend on the boy’s taste, and how he wants to celebrate. In any case, expect music, dancing, and speeches.
What Should a Woman Wear to a Bar Mitzvah?
Check the invitation for a dress code. If there isn’t one, and you can’t get hold of the parents, it is fair to assume you should dress formally (although be wary of too-high heels—you will be dancing, after all). If there is a synagogue ceremony, both men and women should also remember to dress modestly in a manner that is respectful to the congregation.
Do You Buy a Gift For a Bar Mitzvah?
Yes! It is customary to bring a gift for the person celebrating.
What’s an Appropriate Gift for a Bar Mitzvah?
This a good question, and a complicated one. Ultimately, it will depend on the person celebrating, his culture, and his family. In some situations, traditional gifts of a religious nature, such as silver kiddush cups, are most appreciated, particularly in more conservative families. For some secular Jews, a Bar Mitzvah gift is essentially a birthday present on a bigger budget. If you are unsure, it is acceptable to ask the parents which direction they prefer you follow.
In both cases, writing a check is a common custom. It certainly takes the complexity out of choosing a present. However, there are still a plethora of reasons to buy a physical gift…
1. It’s More Personal
The best Bar Mitzvah gift is a testament to your relationship with the person celebrating. Choosing a gift is far more personal than writing a check, and shows you gave real thought to what the Bar Mitzvah boy would enjoy. To make the gift even more intimate, The Israeli Center of Judaica offers personalisation—you can engrave the gift with the recipients’ name or initials, or perhaps the date of the ceremony, and get one of our personalized kiddush cups. You can even commission a gift you know they’ll love—this adds a real personal element.
2. Because They’ll Remember It
Cast your mind back to your own bar or bat mitzvah. Do you remember the color of the banknotes? Which bank did the check come from? You most likely don’t know. But on the other hand, do you remember the gifts? Do you remember unwrapping them? Perhaps you received a gold necklace which you wore everyday for years; perhaps you are wearing it right now. Physical gifts are far more memorable than numbers scrawled on a check.
3. It Can Last Forever
Historically, gifts given in Jewish ceremonies were intended to last a lifetime, and often beyond. If, for instance, a boy was gifted a Kiddush Cup for Bar Mitzvah, he continued to use the same cup to bless wine throughout adulthood. After he passed away, it was inherited by his son. Many presents were indeed carried down within families as heirlooms.
In today’s world, most objects are not made to last. A Bar Mitzvah is a unique opportunity to invest in a gift that will accompany its recipient for generations to come.
A personalized silver kiddush cup is a perfect gift to carry for years.
4. They Will Actually Use It
Most thirteen year olds have little access to their own money. Their parents will most likely put their Bar Mitzvah earnings into a bank until they turn 18. While saving is always a good financial lesson, buying a physical gift will provide them with something they can use and enjoy immediately.
5. It’s a Memento
A Bar Mitzvah is a momentous event. Filled with religious and cultural significance, it is the day where a boy becomes a man in the eyes of the Jewish faith. Unlike a cash present, the best Bar Mitzvah present will serve as a reminder for years to come of the day his relatives came together to celebrate with him, through his wedding and until he is old.
Presents don’t only serve as a memento for the event itself, but also for the person who gifted them. Your gift will remind the Bar Mitzvah boy for years onwards of the relationship you had.
6. To Prioritize Tradition
Gift-giving during Bar Mitzvahs actually has a rich history of its own. And, as in most Jewish rituals, there is a heavy tradition behind it. Classic gifts include prayer books, kiddush cups, Torah pointers and tallit clips, gifts that are both spiritual and practical in the life of a Jewish man.
But there are many ways to bring to mind tradition. A Star of David Necklace celebrates Jewish heritage. A Gold Chai Pendant honors life and health, as well as the continuing existence of the Jewish people, despite adversity. Hamsa motifs are a time-honored symbol of luck and protection.
Can’t decide between Star of David and Chai? Opt for a jewelry that combines both
7. It’s a Chance to Support Small Businesses and Local Artists
Small business and artisans already suffer from a lack of exposure, particularly as large retail giants grow in popularity. Creators of Judaica are particularly affected by this issue, as their target audience is much smaller to begin with. Buying a Bar Mitzvah gift from one of these creators has a double advantage—first, it provides the Bar Mitzvah boy with a truly unique and intentional design, and second, it reinvests money into the community, supporting those creators who really need it.
The Israeli Center of Judaica provides a platform for smaller-scale jewelers and artisans. Some come from generations of jewelers and are carrying forward techniques unique to their families heritage. Others seek to redefine and interpret the Judaica we are used to seeing with a distinctive, modern twist.
8. To Encourage Personal Values
Nearly every traditional gift has a symbolic meaning behind it. Often, they are intended to encourage Jewish values. For example:
- Tzedakah boxes represent generosity and justice
- Torah Yad Pointers put emphasis on spirituality
- Books encourage learning.
In short, the gift you choose can encourage a young man to become a better, wiser adult. Use a physical present to emphasize your personal values. Gifts that are ‘giver-centric’—that is, which focus on reflecting the giver’s personality—are actually more appreciated by recipients, who feel closer to those that give them.
9. You Don’t Need to Worry About Giving the ‘Right’ Amount
To give money is to put an objective value on the event taking place. It’s no wonder people worry so much about the amount they should give—money is a sensitive topic, and it is easy to make a mistake that will appear overly generous or poorly chosen.
Besides, it would be nice not to have to calculate a multiple of ‘chai’ to write on the check!
Personalized tallit clips are a great way to give a gift that is both personal and useful!
10. It’s a Chance to Bond
Most people don’t stray from cash presents because of the risk they’ll get it wrong, and give the recipient something they won’t like. There’s an easy antidote to that: talk to whomever you are giving a gift to! You can think of an idea together. You will certainly be more likely to get him something he likes, and better still, you’ll have a slightly better understanding of the young man he is becoming.
A physical present that you have chosen is miles more personal, memorable and significant than simply money. On such an important day as a Bar Mitzvah, taking the time to give a mindful gift is an excellent way to celebrate together. What you choose may carry forward an old tradition, or it might start a new one, but in either case, it will certainly be appreciated. Whether it’s a traditional designed Bar Mitzvah Gift or a vibrant and modern gift for Bar Mitzvah, The Israeli Center of Judaica probably has what you’re looking for!