Bar Mitzvah Gift Etiquette

by Claire Valenty on January 30, 2010

in Gifts & Celebration Etiquette

gift bar mitzvah etiquette

The Bar Mitzvah (or “Bat” Mitzvah for girls) signals when Jewish children become responsible for their actions (thirteen years old for boys and twelve years old for girls). Congratulations to your loved one as they undertake this special journey. But, what do you get them to convey how proud you are? What is proper Bar Mitzvah gift etiquette?

Jewish books or a gift certificate to a Jewish bookstore are customary gifts (anything focusing on education or religious value is appropriate). Bar Mitzvah gift etiquette also states it is acceptable to give gifts of money. Amounts that are multiples of 18 (the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew word for “life” – “chai”) are seen as being lucky. The money can be enclosed in simple Bar Mitzvah card; these are available at any grocery or drug store.

If you would like to make a donation to a Jewish charity as opposed to a direct gift, make the donation in the name of the Bar Mitzvah student. This is “tzedaka”, which means “charitable support of those in need” and is a traditional Jewish gesture.

Regardless of the final gift you decide on, the recipient will appreciate the time and effort you put into it, so don’t stress yourself out too much! Also, if the ceremony is held on a Friday evening or before sunset on a Saturday, it is best not to bring the gift with you. For those following Jewish traditions strictly, carrying is forbidden on Shabbat, which puts the recipient in a delicate possession if you are handing them a present!

Photo: 123rf/Kostyantine Pankin

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