Author Topic: Appropriate Bar/Bat Mitzvah Gift?  (Read 1044 times)

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SoCalVal

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Appropriate Bar/Bat Mitzvah Gift?
« on: April 10, 2013, 03:47:27 PM »
DH and I are invited to the bat mitzvah of the daughter of a dear, lifelong friend of his.  We don't know what to get the daughter as a gift.  DH first suggested cash, but I thought it too impersonal so I searched online for other things.  I think something like jewelry is way too personal for someone whose tastes we don't know at all, as were other things I saw online (like artsy things).  We decided on cash after all so I told him, at least, we need to give it in increments of 18 since 18 is an important number in the Jewish faith (so we'll probably give her $54).

Does someone have a better idea for a gift?  We are really at a loss.



WillyNilly

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Re: Appropriate Bar/Bat Mitzvah Gift?
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2013, 03:54:52 PM »
Cash (or really, a check  :) ) is the most common gift I've ever heard of for a Bat Mitzvah. The young woman will almost certainly get several monetary gifts. Many Jewish kids I know/knew got a nice chunk of college funds from their Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Jewelry is appropriate, but as you said you don't know her taste, so its tricky. I think you should give the money and feel fine with it.

gellchom

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Re: Appropriate Bar/Bat Mitzvah Gift?
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2013, 11:48:16 PM »
Money, especially in multiples of 18, is very common and will be just fine.  Gift cards also.

Girls do get a lot of jewelry and purses.  Boys and girls both get Judaica (candlesticks, kiddush cups, chanuka menorahs, charity boxes, etc.), Israel Bonds, US bonds, and lots of books of all kinds.   

Also popular: jewelry box or tree, jewelry travel cases, photo albums, wallet, watch, binoculars, toilet kits.  Things for camp.

One very very clever gift my son, even then a baseball nut (today he is a sportscaster) received was a few shares of stock in a baseball team that was at the time publicly traded.  He got a lot of other baseball stuff, too.  My daughter loved a gift of CDs from four new Broadway shows.  You need to know the kid to hit it out of the park that well, though.

My favorite bar mitzvah gift to give is an electric razor.  Something a man needs but a boy doesn't.  The boys LOVE it, of course!  Especially the ones who won't need it for years.  I haven't found a perfect analog for girls (when I was a kid, a hairdryer served the purpose -- and I don't mean a blow dryer! -- I still remember how thrilled I was to get that, and I even remember the card: "for the new teenager - you'll need this for those last minute social engagements" -- it made me feel so grown up.).  I often give girls two books,: Our Bodies, Our Selves, a women's health book that every woman needs, and a book on personal finances aimed at teenage girls.  Same idea, but needless to say, the girls don't get a thrill out of it like the boys do with the razors. 

Zizi-K

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Re: Appropriate Bar/Bat Mitzvah Gift?
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2013, 12:50:25 AM »
DH and I are invited to the bat mitzvah of the daughter of a dear, lifelong friend of his.  We don't know what to get the daughter as a gift.  DH first suggested cash, but I thought it too impersonal so I searched online for other things.  I think something like jewelry is way too personal for someone whose tastes we don't know at all, as were other things I saw online (like artsy things).  We decided on cash after all so I told him, at least, we need to give it in increments of 18 since 18 is an important number in the Jewish faith (so we'll probably give her $54).

Does someone have a better idea for a gift?  We are really at a loss.

One sort-of traditional piece of jewelry (if the family is Sephardic) is a hamsa, which is a hand-shaped pendant which you also find in some Arab cultures. It is thought to ward off the evil eye. You could get a really nice sterling silver one (or even gold plated) for $50 or under. I recently bought a bat mitzvah, and I think she liked it.

gellchom

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Re: Appropriate Bar/Bat Mitzvah Gift?
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2013, 02:09:48 PM »
A hamsa is a Sephardic thing, but a hamsa necklace or other ornament is a popular gift to and from non-Sephardic Jews, too.  People get so many for gifts, it's not uncommon to see a display of them on the wall in Ashkenazi houses (like ours!).

SoCalVal

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Re: Appropriate Bar/Bat Mitzvah Gift?
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2013, 02:54:53 PM »
Thank you, everyone, for your input.  The hamsa sounds interesting, but I was curious what branch of Judaism the family is so I looked up the temple, which states it is Reform.  Would that make a difference where the hamsa is concerned? (I saw some nice ones, but they are way out of our price range)



cicero

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Re: Appropriate Bar/Bat Mitzvah Gift?
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2013, 05:12:14 PM »
Thank you, everyone, for your input.  The hamsa sounds interesting, but I was curious what branch of Judaism the family is so I looked up the temple, which states it is Reform.  Would that make a difference where the hamsa is concerned? (I saw some nice ones, but they are way out of our price range)
the hamsa is more of an ethnic cultural custom ( originally from middle eastern/north African countries) though today they are very common among certain cultural groups in Israel regardless of their origin.

Having said all that I really wouldn't buy one. Some people believe in therm , some people don't care and just think they're pretty and some really don't relate to/appreciate the concept.

The suggestions of money /gift cards are fine. And enjoy!

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gellchom

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Re: Appropriate Bar/Bat Mitzvah Gift?
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2013, 11:44:42 PM »
That they are Reform makes no difference hamsa-wise.   :). It has no religious significance, it's just an ethnic custom.  Muslims and other eastern cultures have versions, too.

I get Cicero's point, but even people who aren't superstitious give and get gifts with hamsas on them, really just as no more than, like, a folk symbol.  (The hand-shaped hamsa is pushing away the evil eye - often, there is an eye in the center.  Often a fish motif, too, because fish are supposed to be immune to the evil eye.). I guess people were happy to have another choice besides Jewish stars, mezuzahs, and chais.

I remember wondering why people who I knew weren't superstitious had hamsas up in their homes, often a grouping on a wall.  That was before we received so many as gifts that now we, too, have a little group of them on a wall at our house.  I don't think anyone who gave them to us thought we "believed in" them.  They are just pretty.

So I would be surprised if anyone, Sephardi or not, superstitious or not, would find it offensive.  Like, if someone gave you a necklace with a four-leaf clover on it.