The Bar Mitzvah, the Jewish rite of passage for boys and its girl’s equivalent, the Bat Mitzvah, indicates the reaching the stage of one’s life when one becomes responsible for one’s actions. In Judaism, this occurs for boys at 13 and girls at 12.
Boys are called up to the Torah on the Shabbat following their 13th birthday. After that, the father recites a blessing, and then the boy reads from biblical prophets, the Haftorah. A Kiddush, or small lunch, follows that. On the boy or girl’s 12th or 13th birthday, there is a reception during which the Bar Mitzvah speech is read. The rest of the reception? That is up to the imagination of the guest of honor, but it can be a “Titanic” theme, a lavish dinner at the Ritz, or a casual poolside party.
In the good old days, a fountain pen was the typical gift for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. A few years down the road, it became a Sony Walkman. Of course that translates into an iPod today. That’s great–what 12 or 13-year-old wouldn’t want an iPod? However, it would be much more appropriate to attach something meaningful to the gift in reflection of what the ceremony actually means.
Here’s a list of the top gifts for Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah:
1. Tzedakah Box (Charity Box): Everyone, Jewish or other, should have one of these at home to drop off spare change. Once filled, the money can be donated to a Jewish philanthropy or school. This is not only useful, decorative and simple, it also brings home the message of responsibility.
2. The Thinking Teenager’s Guide to Life: This book, by Rabbi Akiva Tatz, contains spiritually strong essays on how to navigate the potholes of life. It is definitely a gift that keeps on giving.
3. Electronics: If you’re set on getting an iPod or iPad, why not download apps or podcasts that send meaningful, spiritual messages throughout?
4. Bat Mitzvah at Tiffany’s: Not everything at Tiffany’s is beyond your budget. The Heart Tag Charm Bracelet, a beautiful heirloom piece, retails for $225; and the Somerset Heart Ring is the same price. Timeless elegance that will be a constant reminder of her big day. One of the most popular Bat Mitzvah gifts, jewelry can be passed down to other generations, a gift in itself.
5. Star of David necklace: Both boys and girls will be grateful for this symbol of their faith, and it can be found in a multitude of shapes, colors, metals or other materials. The Star of David in jewelry or other items is mong the more traditional and popular Bar Mitzvah gifts.
6. Money: Always acceptable, especially if housed in a beautiful handmade card. Tradition has it to write a check in a multiple of 18, which is the numerical value of “chai,” or “life.”