Bar Mitzvah Gift Customs

Written by kyra sheahan
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Bar Mitzvah Gift Customs
Celebrate with the bar mitzvah boy by giving him a gift. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

A bar mitzvah is a Jewish ritual in which a 13-year old boy becomes, at least symbolically, a man. This celebration is traditionally experienced with family and friends, and it is customary to bring gifts for the bar mitzvah's honoree. Understanding some of the gift-giving customs of the Jewish faith can help you determine what to buy when you are invited to a bar mitzvah.

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Location and Timing

In the Jewish religion and culture, it is not appropriate to bring bar mitzvah gifts for into the synagogue where the service is performed. This is a holy and spiritual house of worship, so it is best for you to bring your gift to the reception, which takes place following the service. Receptions may be hosted onsite at the synagogue's conference room, or offsite at a resort or other location.

The Number 18

The number 18 is significant in the Jewish religion. In Judaism, Hebrew words have numerical values. The number 18 is the numerical value of the Hebrew word "chai" -- pronounced "high" -- which means "life." For this reason, it is traditional for Jewish people to give bar mitzvah boys cash or check gifts in multiples of £11. These types of gifts can range from £11 up into the hundreds or thousands, depending on how much money family and friends are willing to give.

Future Gifts

Traditionally, gifts for the bar mitzvah boy are saved for the future, such as for college. It is not uncommon for people to give savings bonds and other types of long-term savings checks to the bar mitzvah boy, which he cannot touch or use until he becomes a certain age. Gifts like books and advanced literature that he may not enjoy until later are also appropriate.

Jewish-Themed Gifts

It is acceptable to give a bar mitzvah boy a Jewish-themed gift, such as a special yarmulka or mezuzah. Since the boy is now recognised in the Jewish religion as a man, he may start his journey as a Jewish man by having some of his own Jewish artefacts and accessories.

Typical 13-Year Old Gifts

If you buy a typical 13-year old gift for the bar mitzvah boy, such as a movie, book, gadget or toy, this will not be held against you. Bar Mitzvah boys will appreciate gifts that they can play with and enjoy right away.

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