Bar Mitzvah Gift: Bar-Bat Mitzvah Response on Ask the Rabbi
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Bar Mitzvah Gift

My nephew is having his bar mitzvah and I am thinking of a gift. In the old days, the gift of choice was a fountain pen, then a Walkman, and today an iPod. But I want to get him something special. What do you suggest?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Since this event celebrates the young person becoming obligated in the commandments, the most appropriate gift is, naturally, one that gives a deeper understanding of the Jewish heritage and enables one to better perform the mitzvot! (An iPod, s/he can get anytime.)

With that in mind, my favorite gift idea is a tzedakah (charity) box. Every Jew should have a tzedakah box in his home, so he can drop in change on a regular basis. The money can then be given to support a Jewish school or institution -- in your home town or in Israel (every Jews’ “home town”). There are beautiful tzedakah boxes made of wood and silver, and you can see a selection here.

For boys, a really beautiful gift is a pair of tefillin, the black leather boxes which contain parchments of Torah verses, worn on the bicep and the head. Your browser may not support display of this image. Owning a pair of Tefillin (and wearing them!) is an important part of Jewish identity. But since they are expensive (about $400), not every Bar Mitzvah boy has a pair. To make sure you get kosher Tefillin, see here.

If he already has Tefillin, consider a special waterproof Tefillin case that he can take on hikes, trips, etc.

The next obvious gift is a Jewish book. There are many hundreds of titles to choose from, so I’ve narrowed it down to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Top 10. Just click on the title to order:

Stone Chumash (published by ArtScroll), an excellent translation of the Five Books of Moses with running commentary on every page

Book of our Heritage by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov (Feldheim), a beautiful overview of the Jewish holidays

The Bar Mitzvah Treasury, an illustrated collection of customs and inspiring stories (by Rabbi Yonah Weinrib and Rabbi Yaakov Salomon; ArtScroll)

The Thinking Teenagers Guide to Life by Rabbi Akiva Tatz (Targum), gripping essays on forging a path through life

Sand and Stars by Yaffa Ganz (ArtScroll), a two-volume book about Jewish history, written especially for teenagers

Shmooze by Rabbi Nechemia Coopersmith, a fun book that provokes thoughtful discussions on essential Jewish issues

The Long Road to Freedom, by Avner Gold, an exciting historical novel filled with intrigue and insight into Jewish life

Bible for the Clueless But Curious by Rabbi Nachum Braverman (Leviathan), packed with wisdom on relationships, spirituality and more

Candles in my Window by Beth Firestone, a delightful fiction book about a young girl discovering her Judaism

Triumph – Aish.com’s popular book of inspiring true stories of challenge and spiritual growth

If all else fails, you can always give money. It is a nice idea to give $18 (or some multiple thereof), since the numerical value of 18 in Hebrew is "Chai," which means "Life."

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