A young Jewish person’s bar or bat mitzvah is one of the most important religious ceremonies they will undergo in their entire lives. Whether or not you personally are Jewish or religious, it can be a very moving experience to watch a young person commit himself or herself to being a responsible adult.
Preparing to read the Torah in the original Hebrew often takes between six and eighteen months of difficult labor and practice. If you’ve been invited to a bar or bat mitzvah, it’s worth knowing that, unless the invitations say otherwise, you’re probably obligated to bring a gift.
Given that the event is so much more significant than a birthday or typical holiday, you may have trouble knowing what to bring. Here are a few classic bar or bat mitzvah gifts – as well as a few that are a bit more out of the ordinary.
- Money – The website My Jewish Learning suggests that this is one of the most direct and practical gifts to give at a bar or bat mitzvah. They helpfully explain that, according to tradition, “checks are written out in $18 increments,” because “the Hebrew letters for the word life (chai) are numerically equivalent to the number 18, and therefore this number holds great significance in Jewish tradition.” However, they go on to clarify, give whatever or however you want!
- Items related to Judaism – If you feel comfortable doing this, it may be worth giving a gift that has a particular religious significance. Whether a Hannukah menorah or a Jewish star necklace, this can be a lovely, considerate gift.
- Help with the party – There are usually a few stages to the bar or bat mitzvah party. In addition to the ceremony and a more formal luncheon, there is often a dance party in the evening. Since these can be expensive and difficult to plan, helping plan or implement a great party can be a good way to congratulate the new adult. There are so many possibilities for bar or bat mitzvah parties: from DJs to a photo booth hire (the original selfies!), the possibilities are endless.
- Donations to charity – Depending on the young person and their family, this might be the most powerful way to honor their new adulthood. My Jewish Learning suggests giving to a charity which has special significance for the youth whose bar or bat mitzvah it is: “For example, if the young man or woman loves to read, a donation to Room to Read will help advance literacy for children around the world. If they are budding environmentalists, The Conservation Fund would be a great choice.”