When a Jewish girl turns 12 (in some communities 13), she comes of age in Jewish law and ritual. This rite of passage is usually celebrated in a ceremony called a bat mitzvah (literally: daughter of mitzvah, or commandment) signifying the age at which she is considered a full-fledged member of the Jewish community. The celebrant herself is also dubbed a bat mitzvah.
There are different ways to commemorate this momentous occasion. In some communities, a girl may be called up to the Torah to say a blessing, or may read from the Torah. A bat mitzvah will prepare for her milestone birthday by studying Jewish laws and traditions. And of course, many bat mitzvah girls celebrate the event with a lively party for friends and family! In most traditional Jewish circles, a girl will acknowledge her new status by performing Jewish rituals such as lighting Shabbat candles, making the blessing on challah dough, performing acts of kindness, and more.
Bat mitzvah celebrations often involve a party, and parties mean gifts from family and friends. You may be wondering what makes an appropriate gift for a bat mitzvah. Should it be religiously oriented? Is an expensive gift expected? And what do 12 year old girls like these days, anyway?
Sometimes you’re not sure what to get, or the bat mitzvah seems to have everything. Maybe you don’t know her personally, or just want to play it safe. Although less personal, money is an option for a bat mitzvah gift, and is often given in multiples of 18 to represent the numerical value of the word “chai,” which means “life”.
Money doesn’t have to be given as cash or a check. Gift cards are also popular, and they allow the bat mitzvah girl to choose something for herself.
Most often, family and friends will give a gift other than money at a bat mitzvah. It’s easy to understand why. Gifts given from the heart tend to be more meaningful and memorable. Long after the time a cash gift would be spent, a bat mitzvah girl will associate a special gift with its giver, which will hopefully put a smile on her face.
Traditional bat mitzvah presents often involve an object connected to Jewish life and practice. Some great options that come to mind are Shabbat candlesticks, a menorah, a tzedakah box for collecting charity, or a prayer book with the bat mitzvah girl’s name inscribed on it.
Jewelry is another classic choice for a bat mitzvah gift, especially jewelry with a Jewish theme such as a Star of David necklace, a piece of jewelry with her Hebrew name on it, or a tree of life charm. A jewelry box inscribed with her name and the date of her bat mitzvah can be a great option as well.
A bat mitzvah gift can also relate to a hobby or interest enjoyed by the girl celebrating this milestone birthday. Gifts related to a hobby such as photography, art, sports, music, camping, and more, are popular gifts related to things that matter to the bat mitzvah.
The monetary value of the gift given varies greatly among communities and social circles, so try to subtly ask around to find out what is expected if you’re new to the bat mitzvah circuit. A classic rule of thumb is that a heartfelt, meaningful gift says more than a flashy, expensive one.
Another unique, personal idea is a beautiful piece of wall art featuring the beautiful words of the Torah. A thoughtful gift based on a Torah verse will connect the bat mitzvah with her Jewish heritage long after the party is over. A custom-made and personalized gift with her name and bat mitzvah date is a very special way to make this bat mitzvah gift truly meaningful. We’ve selected several verses from our curated collection that are particularly relevant for a bat mitzvah gift. Check out our most popular bat mitzvah-related pieces here. You’ll find blessings, psalms, and other Torah verses that express timeless Jewish messages.
As a 12 year old Jewish girl celebrates her bat mitzvah and embarks on the journey of her adult Jewish life, it means a great deal to have friends and family there to celebrate alongside her. A well-chosen gift can be a meaningful way to add excitement and fun to the event, as well as express hopes for her future and convey Jewish values. May both gift giver and recipient enjoy good health and happiness! L’Chaim!