Our Guide to Bar Mitzvah Gifts He’ll Love
The big day is finally here for your favorite thirteen year old boy! When a Jewish boy turns 13, he celebrates his bar mitzvah, signifying coming of age in Jewish law and ritual. He’ll likely prepare for months leading up to his bar mitzvah, studying his Torah portion and learning Jewish traditions. At his bar mitzvah ceremony, he’ll read aloud from the Torah, recite the blessings, and enjoy a fun party with his family and friends.
Bar mitzvah celebrations can be small, intimate gatherings or huge blow-out bashes, but whatever the case, friends and family often give the bar mitzvah boy a great gift. A bar mitzvah boy is usually equal parts terrified and excited for the biggest event in his young life. Put a smile on his face with a gift he’ll be delighted to receive.
What makes for an awesome bar mitzvah present? Is an expensive gift the norm? Should the gift be religious in nature? What are some popular gifts for thirteen year old boys nowadays? Here are our top bar mitzvah gift ideas.
A bar mitzvah represents taking on the commandments, or mitzvot, as a full-fledged Jewish adult, so why not get him a Jewish ritual object? He’ll feel proud to use Judaica pieces throughout his life, and you’ll always be the one associated with that special gift. Judaica gifts connect the bar mitzvah boy to his Jewish heritage, and are meaningful objects for him to treasure at other momentous occasions in his adult Jewish life.
Judaica ideas for bar mitzvah gifts include a kiddush cup he can use to make a blessing over the wine at Shabbat and holiday meals (grape juice for now!), a Chanukah menorah, or a tzedakah box for collecting charity.
A set of tefillin (phylacteries) that he’ll use for prayer are a classic bar mitzvah gift. Tefillin are a great choice for grandparents to give to the bar mitzvah boy. Many will pair the tefillin with a tallit, or prayer shawl. Other ideas include a yad (Torah pointer) or a mezuzah for his doorpost.
The Jewish people aren’t called The People of the Book for nothing! Books, holy or not, can be a perfect bar mitzvah gift. Get the bar mitzvah boy a beautiful siddur, or prayer book, in which his Jewish name is inscribed. How about a set of the Chumash (the Five Books of Moses)? He’s starting out his adult Jewish life, and having his own special copy of these holy texts is a great beginning to his very own Jewish household library.
If he’s the literary type, he may enjoy some great novels, classic literature, or journals in which to start writing a story of his own. Or go with a gift card to a bookstore, allowing him to choose books he likes.
Not just for girls, jewelry can be a nice gift for a bar mitzvah boy as well. A pendant-style necklace with the word chai (life), a Jewish star (magen David), a tree of life, or his Hebrew name in silver or gold can make a great bar mitzvah present. Other creative ideas include a nice watch so he’ll always make time for Judaism in his life.
How about a striking piece of biblical wall art? A gift based on a meaningful Torah verse will connect the bar mitzvah boy with his Jewish heritage long after the party is over. A verse from his Torah portion, a verse that offers guidance for life, or the priestly blessing are just some of the appropriate verses that can be personalized with the boy’s name and bar mitzvah date. Biblical wall art is a timeless way for him to proudly display the traditional values represented by becoming a bar mitzvah.
Hobbies and interests
Find out the bar mitzvah boy’s interests, and give a gift he’ll be excited to use. Kids these days have highly developed hobbies, and they take them seriously. Sports equipment, electronics, photography gear, or musical instruments are some great hobby-related gift ideas for a bar mitzvah. Maybe he’s already got everything he needs to practice doing what he loves. How about paying for some lessons so he can really hone his craft? He’ll be blown away by your thoughtfulness.
When you’re just not sure what to get, or think he may already have it all, money is a safe bet that’s always appropriate. The amount given is usually a multiple of 18, since the numerical value of 18 is “chai” or life, and we wish the bar mitzvah boy a long life filled with joy and meaning. Money can be given as cash, a saving’s bond he can hold onto for a while, a check, or a gift card he can use at his favorite store.
There you have it. Choosing the right bar mitzvah gift doesn’t need to be intimidating. What makes a bar mitzvah truly memorable are family and friends sharing in the celebration. Whatever gift you choose to give, be sure to let the bar mitzvah boy know how excited you are for him and his family on this special milestone. Mazel tov!