So, you have been invited to a Bar or Bat mitzvah. How exciting!
Just remember: it’s a special occasion for both the parents, but for the young adult in particular.
A special once-in-a-life-time occasion for the young girl or boy…
They’ve arrived at the age of Mitzvot.
To celebrate their joyous moment in time, there are certain Bar & Bat Mitzvah gift etiquette & traditions you should be familiar with.
Choosing the Gift
Choosing what to give to your friends and relatives is a very tricky affair, and more so when you have been invited to a bar/bat mitzvah.
Remember that Bnei Mitzvah’s coming of age comes at the peak of their teenage life (13 for boys, 12 for girls)… an age where hormones are through the roof, and where anything adults say or do is considered not “cool” or out-of-fashion with the young person.
Hence, choose your gift wisely.
What does that mean?
As I explained in our Bar Mitzvah gift guide, Judaica gifts, Jewelry or generic “teen gifts” all work just fine. It all boils down to how much you know the kid, his family and how much money you’re willing to spend.
Just keep this in mind: give something not only you feel good about, but also something the young adult will love to have.
“What if I Don’t Know the Kid?”
If you’re not familiar with the kid at all, then giving the young Bar/Bat Mitzvah money is a very reasonable & neutral gift.
If you’re not aware of the likes or dislikes of the child, then it’s best to let the bar/bat mitzvah person decide buy whatever he or she prefers.
The child may want to save money for something in future like a college education or even an automobile purchase.
Cash or checks are mostly gifted in increments of $18 as the number 18 refers to the word life or chai in Hebrew. I recommend sticking to such a figure and not round off your gift to say, $50 or $100 as it would “offend” the receiver and his family (not really offend, but it’s kind of out of place).
It might even be a good idea to give your gift in Israeli shekels (the Israeli currency), thereby encouraging the child to visit Israel sooner or later on in his / her life.
Young & Restless
If you decided to go with the money route, then another traditional gift idea would be to gift eMitzvah Bonds or Israeli Mazel Tov Bonds.
As you might expect, the common tradition is to buy bonds in increments of 18.
These bonds are usually redeemable after five years, just at the time of the child being ready to enter college. This helps the child save some money, instead of spending it all at once (they’re still kids after all).
A basic doctrine of Judaism is charity or tzedakah – a donation made in the name of the bar/bat mitzvah child may be a significant way to inculcate in the child this act of giving. Any cause about which the mitzvah child is passionately interested in will be an added incentive for such a gift.
The Last Resort?
If all of these options are out of question – You can always give a gift card, which gives the young adult the opportunity to buy what he or she deems fit.
Any mitzvah cause or project which the child is passionate about can be financed with the help of such gift cards making the giver and also the receiver very happy.
Finally – Giving the Gift
Like any other special event or occasion, the gift is usually given at the reception. If there’s no Bar or Bat Mitzvah party, then you can give your gift after returning from the synagogue.
Gifting money, cash or checks? Put them in an envelope and give it to the family. Make sure the money is in increments of $18.
Hope this Bar & Bat Mitzvah gift etiquette overview was helpful.
Now tell me: what Bar or Bar Mitzvah gifts to you tend to give away?
Let me know in the comment below!