Seven Great Bar Mitzvah Gift Ideas

Having trouble deciding on the perfect gift for the Bar Mitzvah boy in your life? Check out these seven great options.

If you’re having trouble deciding on the perfect gift for the bar mitzvah boy in your life, you’ve come to the right place! Gifts from friends and family are indeed an important part of the bar mitzvah celebration, so it’s wonderful you are giving your choice some thought.

Bar Mitzvah Gift Options:

1. Cash: Always Appreciated

Cash is a go-to bar mitzvah gift, and for good reason — it will surely be appreciated by the young recipient (and his parents), as it can be put to many uses, including bolstering his college fund.

How Much Money to Give as a Bar Mitzvah Gift?

What’s an appropriate bar mitzvah gift amount? Exactly how much to give is very much up to you. The amount will depend on several factors, including how close you are to the Bar Mitzvah boy, the size of the celebration, and other considerations. And a family, of course, will give more than an individual.

It’s traditional when giving cash as a Bar Mitzvah gift to use multiples of $18. That’s because in numerology 18 is chai, the Hebrew word for life. So, if you were intending to give $50, with this tradition in mind, you would round your gift up to $54 (because 3x18 = 54). And so on. But you can rest assured that cash will be greatly appreciated even if the amount is not a multiple of 18.

If your child is invited to a friend’s Bar Mitzvah, consider sending him or her with a gift of up to four times chai, or $72. (It so happens that 72 is a very meaningful number in Judaism, so a gift in that amount is considered very fortuitous.) A family gift usually starts at that amount and goes up from there, but common figures are $108 to $180, with higher amounts for very close friends.

Of course, these days, “cash” doesn’t have to mean paper money — or even a check. Alternatives like Venmo and gift cards are more secure (although they carry less emotional weight than a card containing old-fashioned money). If you would prefer to use a gift card, consider one from the Judaica Store, which has an entire virtual department dedicated to meaningful bar mitzvah gifts from which the Bar Mitzvah boy can choose. They include many, if not all the gift ideas discussed below.

Any of the following gifts are likely to be appreciated and cherished by the recipient. (And it’s perfectly acceptable to combine a cash gift with something more tangible — a bar mitzvah gift doesn’t have to be either/or.)

2. Yad Torah Pointer

“Yad” is the Hebrew name for “hand.” It’s also the name of the pointer a Torah reader uses to follow the text on parchment Torah scrolls — a rod capped by a small hand with a pointing index finger. In addition to guiding the reader, the Yad protects the parchment from being touched by human hands, which can damage it. Yads can be made of a variety of materials, but are very often silver. Consider making sure the Yad gets to the recipient prior to the big day, so he can use it during the ceremony. You can find Yads online in a variety of sizes, materials, designs, and prices.

3. Personalized Five Books of Moses (Chumash)

The Five Books of Moses — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy — together comprise the Torah. When a Torah is printed and bound, it’s called a Chumash. And when a Chumash is personalized with a Bar Mitzvah boy’s name on the cover, it will serve as a gift he will refer to the rest of his life. One of my favorites is the Artscroll Stone Chumash; it’s a great translation with lots of explanation. Merchants including Judaica World will personalize a copy for the recipient.

4. Personalized Hebrew Bible (Tanakh)

Another meaningful gift option is the Hebrew Bible, also called the Tanakh. In addition to the Torah, this collection of Hebrew scriptures includes the Nevi'im and the Ketuvim — all 24 books of the entire canonized Bible. A great edition is offered by ArtScroll. A personalized edition of this volume — or any edition of the Tanakh — makes a wonderful Bar Mitzvah gift.

5. Personalized Prayer Book (Siddur)

Every Jew, including your Bar Mitzvah boy, would appreciate owning a personalized volume of the Siddur -— the Jewish prayer book. The Siddur contains the entire Jewish liturgy used on the ordinary sabbath and on weekdays. (It is distinguished from the mahzor, which is the prayer book used for the High Holidays.) Like a Chumash and the Tanakh, it can also be personalized. Here’s one option to get your browsing started.

6. Personalized Mezuzah

A mezuzah is a small decorative case that contains a piece of parchment on which Torah verses of the Shema are inscribed. Since it is usually affixed to the doorway of a home, you may be surprised to see it on my list of gift suggestions for a person too young to be a homeowner; however, in some Jewish homes, you will find a mezuzah on many inside doorways — including bedrooms. 

So, there’s a good chance your bar mitzvah boy will appreciate being able to showcase his own mezuzah outside his room. Like the above volumes I suggested, the mezuzah case can be personalized with the bar mitzvah boy’s name. Don’t forget to order a scroll along with the case! Here’s a great place to start looking.

7. Tzedakah Box

Charity and philanthropy play major roles in Jewish life — a tradition called tzedaka (“doing right” in Hebrew). The tradition encompasses contributions of time and effort, asks us to build relationships based on trust, and encourages gifts and donations to those in need. 

Since even small donations can add up, part of the tradition includes dropping coins into “tzedakah boxes” to collect them for worthy causes. These boxes are found in many Jewish homes. When you give one to the bar mitzvah boy, you are providing him with a way to honor this tradition. The boxes come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Here’s a place to start shopping.

Choose a Meaningful Bar Mitzvah Gift

Above all else – aim to get the bar mitzvah boy a meaningful gift. 

Enjoy your shopping and rest assured that your gift of cash and/or any of the gifts above will be greatly appreciated by the bar mitzvah boy!


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