Your Bar Mitzvah Gift Guide (2021)
Are you invited to a Bar Mitzvah and wondering what would be an appropriate gift? Becoming a Bar Mitzvah is an incredibly important moment in the life of any Jew. And while the occasion is momentous, that doesn’t mean the gift giving has to be difficult too. After reading this guide full of Bar Mitzvah gift ideas, you should feel confident that you are giving just the right gift to the Bar Mitzvah boy. So let’s get into it and discuss the best Bar Mitzvah gifts.
Psst: If you are looking for gifts for a Bat Mitzvah (girl) and landed on this page, check out my post on the best Bat Mitzvah gift ideas instead!
Bar Mitzvah Gift Amount (Money)
Giving money to a Bar Mitzvah boy is the most popular gift and for good reason. It is an investment in the Bar Mitzvah boy’s future. Some people might think that money isn’t an ideal gift because it is boring or doesn’t look as though the attendee has put much thought into the gift. But, I urge you to reconsider. Sure, there is a chance that the Bar Mitzvah boy will blow the money on the newest Playstation. But, hopefully with the insistence of his family, a savings account will be started in the boy’s name.
Helping a 13-year-old start saving for their future is an incredible gift. Just think about the compound interest one can accrue from putting the money received from a Bar Mitzvah in a high-yield savings account or into the stock market. That is money that can be used to pay for college or a down payment on a home. I definitely didn’t realize it at 13, but as a 31-year-old millennial living through yet another recession, I am so grateful to have been able to start saving at such a young age.
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Bar Mitzvah Money: How much money do you give?
Bar Mitzvah money is typically given in $18 increments, although there are plenty of people who also give $50, $100, $150, etc. Why $18? Seems a bit random, no? Well, not exactly. Judaism has a way of finding meaning in many things, especially numbers.
The word “life” in Hebrew is Chai, so giving money in multiples of $18 is symbolic of giving “chai” or life. The two Hebrew letters in Chai are CHET ( ח ) and YUD ( י ) . CHET is the 8th letter in the Hebrew alphabet and YUD is the 10th, which, when combined, are numerically equivalent to 18. Friends of the Bar Mitzvah boy typically give $18, $36, or $54 dollars. Adults tend to give a little more starting around $54, and then moving to $72, $100+ depending on how many family members are attending. Generally, if you wanted to give $90 you would just round to $100, and if you plan to give $100+, you could either give $108 or start by adding 18 to 100 and give $118, $136, $154, or even $180.
Stocks and Bonds
Is there a stock that you are really excited about? Instead of letting the Bar Mitzvah family choose where to put the money, you could go ahead and purchase some stock for the Bar Mitzvah boy. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get lucky and purchase the next up-and-coming Amazon and by the time the Bar Mitzvah boy is 35, he will be able to retire all thanks to you. If you would rather have the Bar Mitzvah choose the stocks, you can purchase a Stockpile gift card.
U.S. Savings Bonds are another Bar Mitzvah gift option. It won’t be the most lucrative for the Bar Mitzvah, but it will ensure that he won’t spend that money prematurely on Fortnite v-bucks. You can also gift Israel Bonds which help support the state of Israel and can be redeemed right around the time the Bar Mitzvah might be headed to college. Just a quick note that it can be difficult to figure out where exactly to cash in the Israeli bonds.
Judaica Bar Mitzvah Gifts
Gifting a Bar Mitzvah boy a piece of Judaica is also lovely; however, I do urge you to consider a few things when choosing the gift.
It’s expected that the Bar Mitzvah boy will receive quite a few pieces of Judaica on his special day. Make sure to consider choosing an item that the Bar Mitzvah boy only needs one of.
At a wedding, there is typically a registry to ensure that the couple does not receive six coffee makers or seven salt and pepper shakers. The whole registry thing hasn’t really made its way over the B’nai Mitzvah circuit since money is the gift of choice for most.
That is why I thought it would be helpful to share some useful pieces of Judaica that you could get for a Bar Mitzvah gift and some pieces that you should probably stay away from gifting.
Useful Judaica Gifts for Bar Mitzvah
My friend who is pregnant just moved into her first home and texted our group chat a photo of a mezuzah with the caption “finally using these bat mitzvah gifts.” I just randomly decided to do the math of her current age minus Bat Mitzvah age (31-13) and couldn’t believe it. 18 YEARS LATER she is not only giving birth to a new life (chai), but she is finally putting up a mezuzah on the doorpost of her home that was given to her at her Bat Mitzvah.
A mezuzah is a useful gift because at some point in life, a Jewish person will most likely wish to place one on the exterior and interior doorposts of the home. A Bar Mitzvah can be gifted multiple mezuzot and use them in various rooms.
What is a mezuzah?
It’s a special piece of parchment inside a small rectangular box that Jews put on their doorposts. The parchment contains two passages from Deuteronomy, one of which is the Shema prayer. By affixing a mezuzah on your doorpost, you are fulfilling a commandment and showing your love for God.
I don’t expect the Bar Mitzvah boy to be jumping for joy after having received this Bar Mitzvah gift — I certainly didn’t — but I have used the Tanakh that was given to me at my Bat Mitzvah on many different occasions. There was an Intro to Religion class I took at UCLA where I needed a Tanakh and of course, I have used it many times as a teacher over the years. But, I think that anyone, no matter the level of faith, will be curious about something written in the Tanakh at some point in time and use it as a reference at various points in life.
What is the Tanakh exactly?
I refer to it as the book that has it all.
- The T in Tanakh stands for Torah which is comprised of the 5 books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy).
- The N stands for Nevi’im which is the book of the prophets and has stories like Jonah and the whale.
- The K stand for Ketuvim which is the book of writings and contains the book of Esther, the Purim story.
Jewish families can use multiple menorahs as festive decor during Hanukkah and the holiday season, so it would be totally acceptable if the Bar Mitzvah received more than one menorah as a gift.
Judaica: Shofar, Seder Plate, Challah Cover, Tzedakah Box
All of these items of Judaica make absolutely beautiful gifts, but a person really doesn’t need more than one of each item. If you think you might be the only person who is gifting one of these pieces, here are some great options for each:
Judaica Gifts for Bar Mitzvah with a Caveat
While a tallit is a beautiful Bar Mitzvah gift, the giving is generally reserved for a very special family member or close family friend and is done prior to the ceremony so that the Bar Mitzvah boy can wear the tallit. Most people only need one or maybe two talitot in their lifetime, so if you haven’t discussed purchasing the Tallit with the Bar Mitzvah boy’s family first, I would probably refrain from purchasing.
There are bracelets, rings, necklaces, and watches that are made for boys, but I would practice caution in gifting these items unless you know the Bar Mitzvah boy enjoys wearing jewelry. I think it would be nice for a boy to receive a Chai necklace as a Bar Mitzvah gift, as these are popular pieces for men, but the Bar Mitzvah boy probably doesn’t need an entire collection unless he has a strong affinity for jewelry.
Many synagogues gift the Bar Mitzvah a kiddish cup during the service. If you find a really beautiful Kiddush Cup it might be worth it to still gift; but, you might want to call the synagogue prior to the Bar Mitzvah and see if they will be presenting the boy with one as it is common practice.
Secular Bar Mitzvah Gifts
Apple Watch, AirPods
I’m pretty sure any Bar Mitzvah boy would be absolutely thrilled to receive either one of these items. I feel like the only person who wouldn’t want an Apple Watch or Apple AirPods is someone who already owns the product.
Sometimes the Bar Mitzvah family throws an extravagant party and invites hundreds of people and other times, the family might host a small Kiddush luncheon after the service and take a trip to Israel. There are all sorts of ways to celebrate becoming a Bar Mitzvah, but if the family is going to Israel or celebrating by taking a family trip somewhere, a brand new luggage set is a great gift idea to send the Bar Mitzvah boy on his way. Luggage can also be symbolic of the Bar Mitzvah boy growing up and traveling in the future.
If the Bar Mitzvah is really into sports, gifting him a signed basketball jersey or a signed hockey stick will be a unforgettable gift!
Tickets to an Event or Experience
It might be difficult to pinpoint an exact date where the Bar Mitzvah is available to see a show, but you can get the Bar Mitzvah lots of time at a local batting cage if he like baseball, indoor sky diving, go carting, or a voucher for cooking classes if he is a foodie.
DJ Audio/Computer Equipment
With these gifts, you can encourage the Bar Mitzvah boy to pursue his favorite hobbies whether that be building his own computer or learning how to mix audio. Graphics cards are especially popular right now.
High-End and/or Custom Sneakers
If the Bar Mitzvah boy is a fan of Air Jordan shoes or Adidas Yeezy sneakers, you will probably make his month or entire 13th year if you can get your hands on a pair of these for his Bar Mitzvah.
Bike, Electric Scooter, Custom Skis, Hoverboard
If the Bar Mitzvah enjoys being active outside, he will absolutely love receiving one of these as a means to do so.
Hobby Related Gifts
Has the Bar Mitzvah expressed interest in starting a new hobby? You can motivate him to start by getting a Bar Mitzvah gift. A chess set, fishing rod, spikeball, soccer goal, etc. are all potential options; but ultimately, this gift depends on the Bar Mitzvah’s interests.
Mitzvah Project Donation
If you wanted to give money in perhaps a more thoughtful way, you could donate money to the charity where the Bar Mitzvah did his mitzvah project. You could donate all of the money to that charity, or donate half and give the Bar Mitzvah boy half of the total amount you had planned to gift. For example, if you wanted to gift $72, you could give $36 to the mitzvah project organization and $36 directly to the Bar Mitzvah boy.
What is a mitzvah project?
Many synagogues ask students to do social action projects as part of their preparation for Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
Typically, the program at the service will let you know what organization the Bar Mitzvah boy has chosen to work with or you can ask the family ahead of time what was the Bar Mitzvah boy’s mitzvah project.
You can always give a gift card to Amazon, Visa, American Express, Apple, Best Buy, etc. This is the best gift if you would prefer the Bar Mitzvah boy use the “money” from your gift right away as opposed to writing a check which will most likely be put in an account for future spending. And as I mentioned above, a Stockpile gift card makes an awesome gift!
Looking for more Bar and Bat Mitzvah content? There are more posts on the BMA blog!
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