Have you been invited to a bat mitzvah, and want recommendations for a bat mitzvah gift? One the lucky girl will really love? This is our guide to what bat mitzvah is all about, and our picks for the best appropriate cool bat mitzvah gifts.
What is a Bat Mitzvah?
Bat mitzvah is a "coming of age" for Jewish girls. At age 12, they are now considered old enough to take on the responsibility of observing the Jewish laws. For example, girls following the Jewish tradition will now fast on Yom Kippur, and lead the blessings in the home. In most non-Orthodox communities the girls will participate in a public religious ceremony and read from the Torah. This ceremony is what most people refer to as the bat mitzvah and it usually takes place when the girl is 12 or 13.
The bat mitzvah girl will be called to the bimah (the "stage" of the temple) and perform the blessings and read from the Torah. She may read or even chant the entire Torah portion. This is no small task! Girls study for years for a bat mitzvah ceremony.
The Best Appropriate Bat Mitzvah Gifts
A bat mitzvah is a monumental landmark in the Jewish life-cycle, so why not let your gift add to the meaningfulness of the occasion? (These bat mitzvah gift suggestions are in no particular order. With any one of these, you can't go wrong.)
Jewish Jewelry. A Hebrew Initial Necklace, Star of David Necklace, or Chai Bracelet is always appropriate. Consider jewelry with a different Judaic theme too. Pomegranates are a popular design motif like this Pomegranate Necklace. They symbolize integrity, equity, and justice because it is lore that there are 613 seeds inside the fruit, the same number of mitzvot (good deeds) commanded in the Torah. The Tree of Life, Chai, Hamsa and Evil Eye (to ward off evil) are other popular symbols.
Donate to Charity. For all Jewish life-cycle events, a donation is appropriate. Giving tzedakah (charity) is central to the Jewish faith and the Commandment to bring justice to the world. (A tzedakah box, to hold money for charity, makes a great gift as well!) It's best to choose an organization that fits the girl's interest. Most girls having a bat mitzvah have a charitable project they work on. The Mitzvah Bowl is the go-to choice nationwide for most families when searching for a meaningful and unique bar/bat mitzvah project.
Plant a Tree in Israel. Israel was mostly desert and marshland when independence was declared in 1948. Planting trees has been critical to creating inhabitable land. The Jewish National Fund is the charity that heads the effort and planting a tree in the bat mitzvah girl's name is as easy as going to the JNF website. You can even get a beautiful certificate to give her.
Shabbat Candlesticks. Did you know that it is the woman's role to light the Shabbat candles and lead the blessing over the candles that mark the start of every Jewish holiday? A pair of candlesticks that fit her taste and style would make a wonderful gift. A family can have more than one set of candlesticks so you don't have to worry about duplicating someone's gift. Just make sure it's a pair of the same height.
Public Prayer Items. Tallis, a Yad, or a Mezuzah. A bat mitzvah girl may get her first tallis (prayer shawl) to wear during her first Aliyah (calling up to the Torah). A well-made tallis is made of wool or silk and would be a special gift from a parent, grandparent or close family friend. Like the candlesticks, a person can have more than one tallis, so if you've found the perfect one for her, don't worry about her receiving more than one.
Art or Hamsa charms. Art to hang on the wall, papercuts, and other Jewish inspired art make great gifts.
Money / Bonds in Increments of 18. If you want to let the bat mitzvah girl choose something for herself (or save for college), money may be the answer. Make it more meaningful by giving in increments of 18. Eighteen is the number associated with the word chai, Hebrew for life. A gift card works also!
P. S. -- Bring your gift to the party -- not to the ceremony Saturday morning.