Seeing a child — whether they are your own, a relative’s or a friend’s — become a b’nai mitzvah and take the first step into adulthood is an exciting and meaningful occasion.
While much of the pressure is on the young teens themselves on their big day, guests can still find themselves wrestling with a tough question: What gift should they give?
Cash is a common gift, but some may want to give presents with more of a personal nature. And for such a meaningful occasion, it can be difficult to decide on what to get. A b’nai mitzvah is far from an average birthday party, after all — it represents a big leap into maturity for a Jewish child. B’nai mitzvah gifts should be similarly significant.
Courtesy of some Baltimore-area parents, here are a few ideas to help you get started with searching for that perfect gift.
In order to encourage a child to pursue Jewish studies even after their time as a Hebrew school student is over, some may be inclined to help them continue their educational journey through their gifts.
A siddur or hardback Haggadah can be just that gift.
Children from religious families may not be the only ones to appreciate such gifts, either. Chana Cutler said that she has gotten them for several relatives’ b’nai mitzvahs before.
“In some cases, these were the only books of this type in their homes,” she said. “I have also given Jewish history books as presents.”
A simple way to make a gift more meaningful for the recipient is to personalize them. Personalized gifts show an extra level of care for the person they are going toward, indicating an investment in their interests and personal needs.
Rachel Lasson, a member of Suburban Orthodox Congregation, said that she frequently buys Alex and Ani charm bracelets for the bat mitzvahs that her daughter has attended.
“I would say that you should get one with [the b’nai mitzvah’s] initials, and another with [a charm] that may represent something meaningful to them, such as their favorite color, or if I know they like a particular animal,” Lasson said.
Echoing the statement is Rivka Klein, a Baltimore native and the owner of Pompomz Personalized Gifts. Some of their items that she described as being popular b’nai mitzvah gifts include tote bags, diaries, lulav and etrog cases, lucite jewelry and tzedakah boxes. Of course, they all have a personalized flair.
“Everybody loves personal items. It’s that extra nice step that lets you know the person giving the gift really understands and knows you,” Klein said. “It’s that extra addition that makes a gift even more special.”
A Trip to Israel
Instead of a material gift, some b’nai mitzvah kids may be more interested in an experience. Taking a trip to Israel with a parent or other family members could be the perfect culmination of all their Jewish studies, giving them a hands-on experience with the Jewish homeland.
“A bar or bat Mitzvah is a time in a child’s life when [they] are coming of age in the Jewish community, it’s important to understand [their] identity as a Jew,” said Faye Grossblatt, who noted that her sister has taken two of her children to Israel for their b’nai mitzvahs. “What’s more of a meaningful way to celebrate than being immersed in a place which holds the Jewish’s nation’s biggest history as well as the holiest?”