When a Jewish boy comes of age, it’s a cause for celebration. One of the ways we celebrate is by bringing a gift to honor the boy who has studied and prepared so hard to become a bar mitzvah. Monetary gifts in increments of $18 are customary (we’ll explain why), but we also put together a helpful list of bar mitzvah gift ideas to help friends and family choose something tangible to make the occasion special. Let’s dive right in:
1.) Cash or Check
It’s a tradition in the Jewish community to give monetary gifts in $18 increments to symbolize chai (the Hebrew word for “life”). Common amounts are $18, $36, and $54. Since education and cultural enrichment are valued highly in many Jewish families, cash gifts are commonly placed into the boy’s college fund or earmarked for a visit to the Holy Land.
Some Jewish families encourage their sons to give a portion of the cash they receive to a charity of their choice. Others put the money into savings for the purchase of big-ticket items the boy will need in the next several years, such a quality laptop or a first car.
2.) Custom T-shirts for Him & His Friends
A custom T-shirt is a fun and affordable way to commemorate a bar mitzvah. The T-shirt can be personalized with the boy’s name, the date and time of the celebration, a Star of David, and any other decoration with special meaning to the boy. PurpleTrail, a custom gift store, allows you to completely customize a T-shirt using a simple online design tool. The Bar Mitzvah T-shirt shown below is just one example.
You can use the design tool to choose your own custom colors, embellishments, fonts, and wording. The online tool even lets you upload a photo of the boy to add to the shirt. Since custom T-shirts from PurpleTrail can be made in any quantity with no minimum order, you can order a custom shirt for the boy only or for all the boy’s closest friends who will be celebrating with him.
3.) Jewish Graphic Novels
While traditional books are always a great gift, graphic novels are often a even bigger hit with young boys because of their compelling illustrations. The Realist, a graphic novel by well-known Israeli cartoonist Asaf Hanuka, was ranked as one of the 8 best Jewish graphic novels out there. Originally written in Hebrew, this graphic novel is set in modern Tel Aviv.
Another noteworthy graphic novel is Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust, by Loic Dauvillier, Greg Salsedo, and Marc Lizano. In this graphic novel, a grandmother tells her grandchild about her time living in Paris, where she was hidden from the Nazis by friends and neighbors who put their lives at risk to keep her safe. The graphic novel won the Sydney Taylor Book Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries.
4.) Custom Journal
A custom journal that is personalized with the boy’s name and the details of his bar mitzvah is a excellent gift from the heart. PurpleTrail’s online design tool lets you customize a journal to reflect the boy’s unique personality, hobbies, and interests, much like the theme of the bar mitzvah itself. The journal will be the place the young man records his thoughts, wants, and even prayers.
Custom journals allow you to personalize the front, back, and inner pages of the journal with any photos, wording, background colors, and embellishments you want. Options include spiral or perfect binding, soft or hard covers, blank or lined pages, and more.
5.) Yad / Torah Pointer & Stand
A yad is a handheld instrument Jews use to keep their place in the text when reading from the Torah. About the size of a letter opener, yads are small rods often featuring a hand on one end with the index finger pointed to help keep one’s place during a reading.
Yads are not only decorative pieces of Judaica, but they serve the practical purpose of preventing a scroll from being touched so that it is not damaged in any way. While yads are made in a wide variety of materials, including sterling silver and pewter, the example above is carved from exotic teak wood.
6.) Custom Metal Print
It’s not uncommon to have bar mitzvah portraits taken, not to mention all of the photos taken at the party that follows. You can turn these beloved photos into lasting mementos with custom metal prints. Metal prints are a unique way to capture the young man’s big day in a personalized way.
PurpleTrail allows you to customize a metal print with your own combination of text, photos, colors, and graphics. The final product can be displayed at the bar mitzvah party as a one-of-a-kind decoration and later hung proudly in the family’s home as a lasting memory that is scratch and fade resistant.
7.) Hebrew Watch
A traditional wristwatch might seem a bit out of place in a world of smartphones, but when it has personal meaning to the wearer, somehow it fits just right. The leather wristwatch below features Hebrew letters in a classic script that bring the piece beyond simply telling the time to becoming a true conversation piece.
As a bonus, the watch shown above was designed and assembled in Israel. A watch with Hebrew lettering is an understated way to help the boy present himself as refined.
8.) Custom Pillow
A custom pillow is another original way to personalize a gift for the bar mitzvah. The pillow’s outer fabric is a blank canvas that you can fill with any design you choose. Customize the pillow with a printed photo of the boy and his friends, or simply include framed text with the name of the boy, the date and location of the bar mitzvah, and a meaningful quote for a unique keepsake.
You can finish the final look of the pillow with embellishments that represent the boy’s hobbies and interests, such as basketballs or guitars. As an added bonus, the outer fabric of a custom pillow is machine washable.
Of course, it’s important to remember that your presence is the ultimate present at a bar mitzvah celebration. Quality time with the young man is always the most cherished gift.