What on earth do you buy a Tweenager for his Bar Mitzvah?

What does the Bar/Bet Mitzvah celebrate?

The Bar/Bat Mitzvah milestone is a big event in Judaism. A Bar Mitzvah is the name used to refer to a boy who reaches the age of thirteen- at that age he becomes accountable for his actions and takes upon himself the yoke of all 613 commandments. It is also commonly used to describe the party celebrating this occasion. A Jewish girl becomes Bat Mitzvah when she reaches the age of twelve- yes Judaism does believe that girls mature earlier than boys. From here onwards we will just use the term Bar Mitzvah but we are referring to both boys and girls, both Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.

Is a Bar Mitzvah kind of like a Sweet Sixteen?

In some secular cultures, the Sweet Sixteen is a milestone age but Judaism’s milestone birthdays have a lot of meaning behind them- as stated before it is the age at which members of the religion become accountable for their actions and are regarded as mature members of the group. It has little to do with the Sweet Sixteen-type celebrations that seem to be an excuse for young teenagers to just get out and have a good time. Having said that, a lot of the Bar Mitzvah celebrations in recent years have become much more bombastic in certain parts of the world (read America) and sometimes it is hard to differentiate between them and other secular coming-of-age ceremonies.

The Gift makes it all worthwhile…

In any case, no matter where one is invited to a Bar Mitzvah in the world and no matter how modest or grandiose the party is, a common worry is what is an appropriate gift for such an occasion. For those who were lucky enough to celebrate their Bar Mitzvah they may remember it as an exciting time or even one that was slightly awkward, due to their reading from the Torah just when their voice is breaking. Gifts from guests are definitely a highlight for the tweens who may often seem uncomfortable to be thrust into the spotlight just as their bodies and minds are growing and changing form day to day.

Money…

You should know that money is always an appreciated gift. Young tweens are starting to become more independent and there is nothing quite as thrilling as having some of their own money to spend as they please. This is more of a gift that older people bring and not peers. Family members and close friends generally tend to bring larger amounts. If you’re unsure as to the standards in the community of the Bar Mitzvah boy ask around beforehand to get an idea of what is acceptable.

Bling…

Another great option is a piece of jewelry for a girl and a watch or something similar for a boy. Often the Bar Mitzvah will be the first time the tween will receive gifts of value and items such as jewelry and this is exciting for them and also provides them with pieces of jewelry that they can enjoy and wear for many years to come. Once again, check what is acceptable in the community of the kid who is celebrating and see what seems to be “in” in his/her circles.

Jewish stuff…

Pieces of Judaica are also a nice idea for Bar Mitzvahs- a beautifully-decorated charity box is a lovely idea because it is both pleasing to the eye and also reminds the tween of their new status in the Jewish people and their responsibilities that they have accepted upon themselves- charity-giving is a central aspect of Judaism. Other ideas include name necklaces that feature the kid’s Hebrew name, books on famous Jewish people or a gift related to the Jewish holiday that the kids’ Bar Mitzvah falls close to.

Know your customer…

Lastly, it always pays to try and find out what the particular kid you are buying a present for likes, what he is interested in and if he has any hobbies. That way you can buy something truly relevant that you know will be enjoyed and will not sit gathering dust on the bookshelf for many years to come…

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