Bar Mitzvah & Bat Mitzvah
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Bar Mitzvah & Bat Mitzvah
My twins will have their B'nai Mitzvah in two years. I'd really like
to do this in Israel.
Is anyone willing to share their experiences?
We belong to a synagogue and our elder daughter did the traditional
route. But I'd like to do Israel this time because it will be a good
opportunity for the five of us to go and see the country together
before the eldest leaves for college. Also our parents are still
healthy enough to come and with a few years' notice, five or so of our
family friends will be able to save for the trip and join us.
So how exactly do we do this? We're talking about 30 people. Do we
book a tour, encourage our friends and family to do the whole tour and
make this one stop? Do we go to Jerusalem a few days early and adjust
to the time then make this the first stop on a custom tour? Do we find
a restaurant to host all for lunch or dinner after the ceremony? If
Many thanks for any words of wisdom you may have for us.
To the person seeking to hold their daughters' B'nai Mitzvah in Israel
in a couple years, I would like to highly recommend you contact Joel
Abramson. He is a Bay Area native who now lives in Israel (made
Aliyah several years ago with his family) and is truly gifted when it
comes to putting together all aspects of this important and meaningful
ritual. You may have heard of him (he's won numerous awards in ''J''
magazine.) Joel was involved in my daughter's Bat Mitzvah here in the
Bay Area, before moving to Israel, and was an invaluable resource.
Many guests told us afterwards that it was the best Bat Mitzvah they
ever attended! I know he can handle all aspects and questions you
raise about planning and carrying out a very wonderful celebration in
Israel, because that is what he now specializes in. Not only can he
organize great tours, he can even officiate the ceremony, if you like.
Best of all, he is a wonderful musician and will make the experience
truly moving and magical. (I had the fortune of witnessing him at a
wedding in Israel... truly magical!) His business is known as, Joel
Abramson Israel Connection-''the Bay Area Connection to Israel.'' His
website is http://www.joelabramson.com/israel-experience/
Good luck with this exciting event!
I'd like to find an indoor location for a mostly kids party
after my daughter's Bat Mitzvah. I'd like a place where I
can use a caterer so I need a kitchen; I need a dance floor
and space for dining and I'd love it if the location was
interesting or unusual in some way. I wonder if you could
suggest someplace in Berkeley, Oakland or Orinda/Lafayette.
Thanks in advance.
The UC Botanical Garden is a great place for party. They
have an amazingly diverse collection of plants from around
the world. It is a very special place.
Our daughter is having an afternoon Bar Mitzvah and we are
looking for an inexpensive venue to host a buffet dinner and
dance party. We would like to serve the adults beer and wine
and the venues at Parks and Rec (Leona, Sequoia Lodge, etc.)
do not allow alcohol for youth events.
Any ideas greatly appreciated, and advice on how to go low
budget in general would also be helpful! saving for college
Mazel tov to you and your daughter. First the obvious
question, you can't have the party at your synagogue? If
you need transition time just let guests go home (or to
their hotel) for a nap and then return.
You could look into the Hillel building on Bancroft in
Berkeley. I've been to bat mitzvah parties there. They
have a kitchen for the caterer - it's a kosher kitchen so
just be aware of that. And they have a great space for
There is a cafe, Z Cafe, across the street from Temple Sinai
in Oakland and I've been to events there. They have a huge
space that used to be a car dealership. They may have to
provide the food for you to use the space.
Otherwise I would say, ask your DJ or band where they've
performed. A lot of the synagogues have someone who will
walk you thru all this. Or if you have an independent
clergy person, they should also have knowledge of where
they've participated in celebrations.
Have a great time!
Our daughter will have her bat mizvah in August 2011 in Walnut Creek. I am
looking for more recent ideas and information on a few things (well, on
everything! I've never planned one of these before!) than are currently
archived on the BPN website:
how to have a low-key bat mitzvah (daughter wants low-key, at least at
last check - she is not a social butterfly, but rather a quiet, studious type who
loves to read and has a very small circle of friends she likes to hang out with.
She does not like to be the center of attention. She doesn't like to dance,
either, but I'm assuming she will want a DJ - we'll have to see).
how to have a low-budget bat mitzvah that is still special and meaningful
recommendations of local people to hire for various things (e.g., caterer, DJ,
videographer, venue for the party, etc. - don't even know what we need!)
how to deal with who gets invited: real meaning of this question is that my
husband and I have all sorts of family & friends whom we will want to invite,
but daughter may balk as it's ''her party'' (of course, we are paying for it, so...)
and we may get some pushback here. Almost all family would be coming in
from out of state
RELATED ISSUE RE: BEING A GUEST AT A BAR/BAT MITZVAH:
how to deal with the many bar/bat mitzvah invitations that our daughter
will likely get from her classmates in terms of what types of gifts should be
gotten for the bar/bat mitzvah that won't break the bank, particularly since
we will be paying for our daughter's bat mitzvah
Mom of the bat mitzvah girl
I may be coming from left field here but: back in the age of
the dinosaurs when I attended a bar mitzvah, the ritual at
the temple was followed by a nice lunch party at the
parents' house. It is a relatively recent development that a
bar or bat mitvah has to be as elaborate as a wedding. Since
you say your daughter is a low-key type, why not sit down
with her and imagine a party that will truly make her happy?
True, she may feel pressure to do whatever her
friends/classmates are doing--but maybe she would be happy
to do something different, if you open up the possibility.
Maybe she would enjoy a small party with her best friends
and close relatives at a favorite place: at home, or a
special restaurant or outdoor venue. Good luck and mazel
tov to your daughter!
Mazel tov! Having been there and done that, I have some
thoughts about guests and guest lists: it'll go more
smoothly if you don't encourage your daughter's idea that
this is ''her party'' -- it is a party to celebrate her
wonderful accomplishment and her passage into Jewish
adulthood, which is a real milestone for your entire
family, and in that spirit your invitees should include
your family and friends as well as hers. If I were you, I
wouldn't tolerate much balking or push-back from a 12 1/2
year old on this.
As for classmates' invitations and gifts, you're right to
anticipate that this could get out of hand. I strongly
urge you and the other families of the bar/bat mitzvahs to
discuss this and come to some agreement about upper limits
for gifts (or, maybe no gifts at all) for each other.
Also, in the synagogue we attended, it was an acknowledged
custom that *every* child in the b'nai mitzvah class be
invited to each classmate's bar/bat mitzvah ceremony and
party. Not everyone attended of course, but this saved
many hurt feelings, preserved self esteem, avoided the
distraction of kids' wondering who's in/who's not for so-
and-so's bar mitzvah, and communicated to the students
that they are part of a community bigger than just
-- Been there done that
I'm planning a similar low-key, low-budget Bar Mitzvah in
August. Contact me, and we can share ideas. ruth
After a morning service and synagogue kiddish lunch(catered
by Lois Moore), we held a dessert party at our (1100 sq ft)
house and in our backyard. The activities were pretty
minimal -- silly balls, glow sticks (my daughter's request),
and a chocolate fountain. We also did Havdallah which was an
amazing bonding experience for the friends and family who
shared the evening. Our year, a number of families held the
parties at home, which all told has advantages, as even with
a small place there are different spaces to hang out in, so
the preteens/teens can run around, while the older people
can talk to each other. You could think of the party as
analogous to a birthday party where for the kids just being
together is the fun. We did have the party catered so we
could just enjoy our guests, though I know some people who
have managed without the caterer. If you hold it at your
house, and you have a small house, the main trick is to move
as much as you can out of the traffic -- quite a bit can fit
into a back bedroom.
Non-traditional Bar Mitzvah?
My son has been attending Hebrew school, very reluctantly,
for the past several years. He is currently in 5th grade
and the pressure is building up for the Bar Mitzvah in two
years. As we get closer I am starting to feel less
comfortable with pushing him to do something that he
struggles with so much (he is very clear that he does NOT
believe in God, for example), and I am considering other
options. I really would like him to have a Bar Mitzvah, but
am wondering if there are other ways to do it rather than
through a traditional synogogue. We joined the synogogue so
that he could go to Hebrew School, but do not participate in
the community beyond that -- it just hasn't really jelled
for us. I would love to come up with a Bar Mitzvah
experience that could be more meaningful (and less
expensive!) for both of us.
Bar Mitzvah bound
It sounds like what you and your son might really want is
the most traditional bar mitzvah of all - a
simple ''aliyah'' (being called to the Torah). That's all
the bar mitzvah really is, the first time a child is
called to the Torah and admitted into the community of
adults. He does not need to prepare a speech or learn to
read a portion, which is usually what gets kids nervous,
and it doesn't even need to happen at a Saturday service.
You also don't need to have an elaborate party if you
don't want to make a big deal of it. And in case no one
ever told him, a belief in God is not required in order to
be an observant Jew or a member of a Jewish community.
My son and his friend had their Bar Mitzvot at Hillel with
by Sacha Kopin. She is wonderful and made studying Hebrew
fun and meaningful. She came to our house for his lessons,
and when it was time for the ceremony, he was confident and
ready. Without Sacha, I don't think my son or his friend
would have been interested in or motivated enough to have
their bar mitzvot. You can reach her at
There are quite a few options out there for Non -
traditional Bar Mitzvahs. First, have you tried Kehilla
Community Synagogue in Piedmont? Their program is pretty
kid friendly (although not for everyone). Every child must
agree to the process, and they mean it.
If that doesn't work for you, contact Jewish Milestones,
www.jewishmilestones.org they can help you look at all of
the options and how to make the whole learning process and
event meaningful for you and your son.
My last suggestion is find a congregation that you also want
to participate in. If its just for your son, he'll probably
never buy into it.
I'm pretty networked in here in the east bay and would be
happy to a conversation with you.
I think there is a lot of pressure to have a Bar MItzvah a particular way when
you are part of a religious community - my daughter has one coming up in
July - and we have really tried to move away from those expectations and
make this about her and our family. The education she is getting I believe is
an important foundation from which to make later decisions about whether or
not she really wants to participate (and to what degree she wants to
participate) - but I think you can create a meaningful event within those
confines. I suspect that there are others in your community who feel the
same way - it just tends not to be something discussed, and in general I have
had to learn to not care about what others think of the way we are conducting
For us the focus is on the bnei mitzvah - NOT the party - our child is good
with that, and we are able to keep it a much more spiritual event because of
that. I also think that questioning faith is normal (and is in fact encouraged in
judaism) so if you have the right rabbi working with your child this can be a
great learning opportunity.
Rabbi Yehuda Ferris is a hip, warm, non-judgmental
Rabbi.Great with kids. Also small, warm, services. Maybe it
would be a good fit. 510-540-5824.
I suggest stepping back and looking at this from the wide
You say that you joined a synagogue so that he could go to
Hebrew school. Why did you want him to go to Hebrew
school? Right or wrong, the vast majority of people put
their children in Hebrew school in order to have a bar or
bat mitzvah. The "pressure" you are feeling is probably
more about the common expectation.
Why Hebrew school? For a basic childhood Jewish
education? So, tell your rabbi that you don't intend to
have a bar mitzvah. (According to Jewish law all boys
become "bar mitzvah," a son of the commandments, at age
13. So your son will be a bar mitzvah whether he is
ceremoniously called to read from the Torah or not.)
What do you want from the synagogue experience? A
community that loves, embraces and supports you? Often
with spiritual communities we expect this to happen
magically. But just like the PTA, you have to join in to
get something out of it. You say that you don't participate in the community, it just hasn't really "jelled" for you. Maybe you are in the wrong
synagogue for you. Or maybe you haven't tried yet. Or you
didn't know what to do to make it happen. Or your
attempts didn't work. In any of these cases, there are
solutions to get you what you want.
Belief in God is not required to be Jewish or to become
bar mitzvah. Judaism is not a faith based religion; we are
a belonging based religion. You are a Jew because you are
a Jew, not because of any belief system.
A bar mitzvah is the welcoming into the community of a
young person who comes of age as a Jew. Is this the
community that you want to join you for this? The joy and
sense of belonging should not end with the bar mitzvah.
Cost: Wow, I can only say that you would get a standing
ovation at the Council of Rabbis meetings! YOU DON'T HAVE
TO SPEND A LOT OF MONEY! That's where community comes in.
You define what sort of party you want. Lunch in the
synagogue social hall? Sounds good to me! Invite your
friends to heat up their ovens.
A "meaningful" experience. Studies show that the things
that have the greatest impact on us are not things but
interpersonal interaction. Forget the decorations or the
band, what he will treasure is having people looking at
him with love and respect. If you don't want to do this,
DON'T. If you just need help, call.
510-845-6420 x11 www.buildingjewishbridges.org
Unique Bar Mitzvah Party Ideas?
My oldest son is having his bar mitzvah this Fall. He is not
interested in a big wedding reception style party with a DJ and
games. We'd still like to have a late afternoon or evening
celebration for him that includes kids and adults (probably 120-150
people total) and are trying to come up with a unique venue in the
East Bay. We are in Contra Costa, but are fine to come thru the
tunnel. It would be nice to have some activity that the kids (most
will be from age 10 to just turning 13) will enjoy since he doesn't
want a DJ, but they still need something to do. I'm having a hard
time thinking of something that can include both kids and adults.
Have looked into the Commodore Bay Cruise, but will need to trim
down our guest list quite a bit to do that. Any other ideas?? Thanks
You might try some of the museums that do birthday parties. Like
Lawrence Hall of Science or Chabot Space & Science. There would be
plenty of room and a wide range of interesting things to look at.
Looking for fresh ideas on what type of entertainment to
have at a 13 year old's Bar Mitzvah party. About 70 kids
are expected (next May). We have a DJ, but having trouble
with ideas that will interest 13 year olds.
Mazel Tov! If you are the one looking for ideas, then you
have the wrong DJ. A good DJ for kids will offer ideas up
that include games and contests with prizes. The DJ should
be keeping them on the dance floor for quite a while with
the activities and line dances etc. Also, try to develop a
theme for the party. It should be focused around what your
child is most interested in. My daughter was really into
swimming, so we rented out the community pool.
Its also nice for the adults when the kids are occupied. It
may not be quiet, but they will have some time to sit and
We rented a diner for the night for our son's Bar Mitzvah. It was equipped
with a jukebox and a sound system to hook in to. So, we hired our daughter
and her friends to be the party coordinators. It was perfect! They were older
teens and had their finger on the pulse of that age group. They put together a
song list on an iPod that hooked up to the sound system. It was a huge hit.
They created games and had great prizes for the winners that were tossed
out to the crowd. One of the games was about who knew the most obscure
facts about the Bar Mitzvah's life, which can get hysterically funny. They had
an arts and crafts table, they had a ''write a note or draw a picture for the Bar
Mitzvah person'' table, a poker game was always in play, dancing and ice
cream eating contests with their hands behind their backs. There were giant
jars of candy, food they loved and they had a wonderful, crazy time.
It sounds so ''youngish'' for this age group, but they all had a blast.
Hope this helps.
had a great time.
I hired Jeremy Shafer at www.jeremyevents.com for a birthday
party for a friend. He juggles from a tall unicycle, plays
with fire, makes fantastic origami, and knows how to work a
crowd. He had everyone laughing, oohing, and ahhing, from
toddlers and teens to old farts. Highly recommended. He's
pricey but worth it.
To the parent looking for a unique touch to their child's
Bar Mitzvah, I highly recommend a Bhangra group/troupe
called Dhol Rhythms (dholrhythms.com) They are a troupe of
dancers that perform/teach this wonderful high-energy
Punjabi-Indian peasant dancing (Bhangra music has a beat
that could challenge any pop music!) They performed and
led a workshop at my daughter's Bat Mitzvah and everyone
was wild about them (kids and adults alike). Bhangra
music and dance is the big rage in England these days and
is starting to catch on here. Young, talented Vicki Virk
is the founder of the troupe and has done much to promote
the artform here in the States. We're lucky to have her
right here in the Bay area! They're great for big parties
because they are colorful, dynamic and get everyone up
dancing (even reluctant boys). The beat is so infectious
and the dancing so invigorating and free. Try them! You
won't be sorry!! Call Vicki at 510-928-0595 or email her
at Vicki at dholrhythms.com.
For both my son and daughter, we created a theme based on their mitzvah
project or interest. We saw that we could buy a tree in Israel in the
our guests, but that didn't quite appeal to my son. He was interested
in saving the coral reef, so we worked with the Ecosystem Survival
(who understood what we wanted to do -- I believe the director was
My son ''bought'' some coral reef for preservation in the name of each
adults attending, and they put together a certificate, ''deed,'' and
We used the envelopes as table cards.
My daughter at first was going to focus on peace between different
people, so we had a blast making centerpieces that were tableaux of
multiracial children (dolls) in different settings -- art room,
garage band, Yosemite camping trip, each one different (she made a
minature s'more out of cardboard, brown corduroy and white model
Put together by amateurs, but wowed the guests. Then she picked a
charity and made a contrbution in the name of each guest.
Finally, we used a DJ who only does dancing (no games), and solicits
by going to each table. An added benefit was that the parents as well
kids liked the music, so they were ON the dance floor rather than by
sidelines watching their kids (My daughter preferred elbowing us on the
dance floor to having us as an audience for her friends.) Everyone
and 8 people asked me for his phone number for their events. So check
you child about whether he/she wants just dancing or also games.
My daughter recently had a Bat Mitzvah and I am wondering if any
of the expenses including the food following the service--open
to the entire congregation is tax deductible? Are any of the
religious items purchased tax deductible? Advice please. Thank
Bat Mitzvah Mom
I'm not a tax advisor but I'm fairly sure you can't deduct the items you
It may be possible to get the synagogue to give you a letter thanking
you for your
donation of ''lunch'' for xxx number people valued at $xxx, but I
suspect they are
wary of doing that. I used to take the cost of Hebrew school off my
taxes as a
childcare expense since I would have been paying for some other activity
if my child
wasn't in religious school. No one ever questioned it but then again I
have no idea
of its legality.
You know, I really don't think so.
With my son's Bar Mitzvah coming up next year, I'd like to
assemble a video montage to show at the party that evening.
This video will be about 20 minutes long and set to music, and
will use about five songs at four minutes a piece, give or
take. The music is a really central and evocative part of the
video. Now the question: I need those five perfect songs.
These songs need to really express deep love for a son, for his
value to his family, for his great worth as a young man and our
hopes for him as we send him on his way into adulthood. I'd
really appreciate recommendations of songs that tell any part
of that story. I know friends have used the song ''Beautiful
Boy'' by John Lennon, as an example, and that is certainly a
sweet song and might be an option. But I think I'm looking for
something more unusual, songs with lots of soul and lots of
power (serious, fun, sweet, uplifting...).
When we put together a video for our daughter, the choices were
abundant (Carole King, Jackson Browne, Randy Newman, Joni
Mitchell, Van Morisson - hereby revealing my musical vintage)
but it's much harder to find something for a son that is at
once masculine but still tender. We're really open to lots of
different types of genres, and don't need to be frozen
musically in the '70's - '80's.
Any special song and/or artist recommendations (and where we
might find these tunes) would be greatly appreciated.
I don't know whether it would be appropriate or not, but I cry every time I hear ''Day
is Done'' by Peter, Paul and Mary (''tell me why you're crying, my son?'')
How about ''The Circle Game'' by Joni Mitchell? I think it's a great, touching,
masculine growing up song. You can find the lyrics here:
and I am sure itunes would have all of the songs you ultimately decide on.
Good luck and congratulations.
You might try Lauren (Lauryn?)Hill. I know there is at least one song to her son Zion on
her ''The Miseducation of...'' album, and there may be more on her later stuff.
How about ''Solsbury Hill'' by Peter Gabriel? Great song, and just dramatic enough as a backdrop to a
Looking for a recommedation for a good place for Bat Mitzvah
evening party around Berkeley. Also for fun ideas, DJ's.
Please, share your experience. Thank you.
Hi, one of our staff members has this to say about LHS as a site
for his son's Bar Mitzvah:
I did my son's Bar Mitzvah this past September at Lawrence Hall
of Science http://lawrencehallofscience.org/pubprogs/rental.html.
I work at LHS, so I'm a little biased, but it was a fabulous
location for a number of reasons. The special events staff are
very helpful and flexible. There are several different large
spaces, indoors and outdoors that can be used for different parts
of the event. The views are incredible and the indoor spaces are
both elegant and fun (among the exhibits). Several guests
commented to us how much they loved the location, and that
despite it being a science center, it has a beautiful, dignified,
even awe inspiring feel to it. The challenge is, it is only
available for special events when the museum is closed--after 5pm
seven days a week, so it is only practical for an evening event.
We used a somewhat untraditional format on a Friday night: we
did the kiddush outdoors overlooking the entire Bay Area, came
inside to a gallery for the Bar Mitzvah ceremony, then moved into
the lobby for dinner--so we did the entire event in one place on
a Friday evening, but one could do the ceremony in a synagogue or
other location on Saturday morning, then have the dinner and
party at LHS on Saturday evening
I am beginning to plan our son's bar mitzvah and am reeling from
the costs of renting a place for dinner, catering, etc. It
seems as though it will cost $15,000. easily and probably more,
even though it won't be fancy. (This includes the service,
rabbi, etc). I waver between thinking this is ridiculous and we
should do it as simply as possible, on the one hand, and, on the
other, feeling that this is our only child and why not make it as
wonderful a day as possible. I'd really like to hear from those
who have been through it, who have the wisdom of hindsight. thanks!
Hi - well, I certainly sympathize because there is a lot of
pressure to have a big expensive party (although one simple way
to hold down the cost is to do a lunch instead of dinner).
This whole process can be a great opportunity to find out what
your son enjoys and then build an event around it. My son
really loves baseball so he had a bbq in a park and we played
baseball and other sports. Unless of course your son is
feeling a lot of peer pressure and then that, of course, is a
different issue. You may find his idea of a wonderful day is
much simpler and lower-key than you anticipate
I am a member at Beth El Synagogue in Berkeley and asked some
friends about their Bnai Mitvah experiences to respond to your
post. There was a suggestion in your request that you donít
belong to a synagogue and will have to find someplace to hold
the ceremony, pay a rabbi and hold a party. If that is the
case, you should consider joining a synagogue; for the price of
membership (plus additional bar mitzvah fees, $700 at Beth El)
you get the rabbi, the cantor, the sanctuary and all the other
benefits of membership.
Here is one personís experience: We had a luncheon immediately
following the service to which we invited the whole community.
Maggie (the Beth El in-house caterer) did the food and it was
wonderful. We spent about $5,000 for close to 400 people. We
then had an evening party for the kids with pizza and a sundae
bar. I think we spent about $300 on food, $800 on the Albany
community center and $750 on the DJ. So the total was in the
neighborhood of $7,000.
Here are another personís comments: Oh no. This kind of thing
really makes me crazy. It is, of course, possible to have a
lovely Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration w/out spending $15K. This
is just the kind of thing that keeps people from affiliating if
they do not feel they are affluent enough. I wish the
organized Jewish community was better at communicating that ''as
wonderful a day as possible'' is not the same thing as spending
a lot of money. (Great, if you have it and you want to do it.
But we should be more supportive of people celebrating in other
I can think of lots of way to do this. You can xerox-copy the
invitations, have great food (simplify the menu, have your
friends help, buy from Costco), live music (students), an
inexpensive venue (synagogue, park, schools).
Here are comments from another member: What do you want to
achieve? Welcoming your 13 year old child into the adult Jewish
Community doesn't really cost anything but time, care, love and
community. Everything else is ... profit. I heard a commentary
on NPR last year. It was on ''Marketplace.'' The commentator and
his wife had opted out of the bar mitzvah arms race and that is
what I'd recommend Barfuddled do. A Bnai Mitzvah is not about
what you eat or about the band or party favors. Frankly it is
not even about the event. It is about holding a child in
community as s/he goes through the transformation from child to
adult. It is about giving that child the ritual tools to help
them in community and in worship, and equipping them with the
ethical framework to guide their actions in the world. It is
about valuing that child's intellect, ideas and intuition. It
is about helping that child claim his or her voice.
So gather your friends around. Cook together and freeze. Figure
out how you are going to embrace that child and guide them. You
may choose to pay $15K, but recognize it as a choice that is
not about the child but about the adults. Money doesn't make a
I hope this helps. And... mazel tov!
We have a Bar Mitzvah coming up, and I am stunned at how much people
are willing to spend. I need a summer night venue that will hold 125
people (including 50 kids), allow for amplified music and not break the bank.
I also would use a caterer but hope to keep the cost way down. Please advise.
What are the best deals that folks are willing to share? Can a party
planner help economize? I am not a do-it-yourselfer.
My daughter will have her Bat Mitzvah in Dec. 06. It is a
very big event and I would definitely recommend an
experienced party planner to help you navigate through
this. It takes the stress somewhat off the parents and
allows them to be present for the event that they spend
months planning. I am currently working with Diane Meltzer
who has her own business called Shindig. Diane is warm,fun
and extremely organized and detail oriented. I'm so happy
to be working with her! Her number is 510 524 1415. Good
luck and Mazel tov!
There was another recent post on the younger kids BPN about
this--one parent reserved a park and had pizza and an ice
cream sundae bar. It sounded absolutely delightful.
My question about Bar and Bat Mitzvah: What is parent's
thoughts on including everyone in the religious school
class or grade? This special event should be an event of
inclusion not exclusion, right?
anon Bat Miztvah Mom
I understand your concern. For my son's bar mitzvah, we
rented the big room at Northbrae Community Church on the
Alameda in Berkeley. It's very reasonable, there's a
kitchen for the caterer's to use (we used an Indian
restaurant since that's what my son wanted and that turned
out to be inexpensive as well). We still had to pay for a
DJ (they brought their own sound system) which was the
biggest expense. A friend had his bar mitzvah at the
Rockefeller Lodge in Richmond, which is also not expensive,
but then you have to use them as the caterer (Partytime
catering). Another cheap place is the Albany library.
There's a large room, access to a kitchen, easy parking, and
low cost. Good luck and mazel tov!
been there, done that
We did my daughter's Bat Mitzvah for ~ $3,000, having
splurged $750 for a good DJ. We did our own invites, etc.,
on computer (beautiful); had the reception in the Social
Hall of the Temple; her dad poached salmons and made
quantities of pasta; friends brought their favorite salads;
I hired a wonderful photographer who charged hourly and
gave us the film to develop (before digitals were so
popular); table centerpieces were baskets that guests were
asked to fill with canned goods for the homeless. We had
about 125 guests and our focus was on the kids. My only
requirement was that the music during dinner was my choice.
After that, it was all about the kids - music, games,
inexpensive/silly prizes, lots of dancing. It was on a
Monday evening school night to end at 10 and most were
ready to stay on. We had calls for weeks about what a good
time was had and my daughter got what she wanted - a
meaningful Bat Mitzvah. It's definitely doable!
I really sympathize with your dilemma, because there's a
lot of pressure out there. For my oldest child's bat
mitavah we used a party planner, but not for the younger
one's. My experience with the planner was that she tried
to talk us into a more formal and expensive event than we
wanted and felt was appropriate, and also overstaffed the
event itself. I would try to find a caterer who can do it
all - decorations, etc. If you're already planning on a
DJ, then that person will keep the party moving, so
between the two, you've got it covered. Try
herecomestheguide.com for venues. Good luck and try to
keep it all in perspective - it's celebrating a religious
event for a 13-y-o!
The two most reasonably priced venues around Oakland are
the Piedmont Veterans hall (cheaper if you have a friend
in Piedmont who can reserve it for you at the resident's
rate) and the Joaquin Miller Park Rec Center. You can't
serve alcohol at any ''teen-oriented'' event held at an
Oakland Parks and Rec venue, so right there you can save
the money you'd spend on alcohol.
In terms of food, my chief suggestion is to not serve
dinner. Make it ''desserts and dancing.'' Or just finger
food. There are lots of options around. This is where a
planner is helpful, they have lots of suggestions on how
to economize -- but, of course, you have to pay the
planner. The biggest appeal of a planner to me is to have
someone there who can keep the evening moving along, make
arrangements with vendors, etc. so you don't have to and
you can enjoy the party. But if you have a simple party,
you might not need it. The other thing a planner can do is
sometimes save you money in ways you don't think about. A
friend of mine said her party planner got her a refund of
her deposit for her room rental because when she and the
crew arrived it was a mess. She called the vendor and
complained and got the refund. This all took place without
my friend having to think about it at all.
another bat mitzvah mom
I'm looking for an adult/skilled teen to entertain kids (ages
6-14) at my son's bar mitzvah. I'm not seeking a DJ
because this will be a lunch reception with a jazz quartet.
Any suggestions for someone to play games/music with
kids for an hour or so at the reception?
we hired the San Francisco Klezmer Experience for our wedding
and loved them. they aren't inexpensive, but perhaps they could
recommend someone. Or you could hire (aas we did for our dinner
hour) a subset of the musicians -- they are amazing and festive
and everyone at our wedding was up dancing and having a great
time. and half of them aren't even jewish ;-)
San Francisco Klezmer Experience
Work: (510) 658-4528
E-Mail: krywanoga at jps.net
Hi - Having not hosted a dinner party in ages, I could really
use some tips from some party planners in our community. Our
daughter's Bat Mitzvah is coming up in January and we'd like it
(of course) to be really special. We'll be hosting two events
in addition to the luncheon after the service: a Friday dinner
the night before the Saturday morning service and a Sunday
brunch. She's a very informal kid and doesn't want a fancy
party as part of her celebration weekend. We'll have friends
and family flying in from all over the country, really going
out of their way to be with us. I'd like to acknowledge that
and let folks know how grateful we are that they've gone to
such lenghts to join us. Therefore, I'd really appreciate tips
on how to make the Friday dinner memorable and any touches I
could use to make each family feel special. We're renting a
private room in a nice hotel for the entire evening; we're able
to decorate the room as we wish, play music, dance, whatever
we'd like. Sunday brunch is less of an issue - we'll have a
great spread and it will be very relaxed. In a nutshell, my
real question is, ''What makes for a great party?''
No disco for this kid
We recently attended a Bat Mitzvah out of state. We were there to attend
all the events from Friday to Sunday. However, the one thing that really
sticks in my mind is when we checked into our hotel. The hotel clerk
gave us a basket with our family name and a note from the hosts thanking
us for coming. The basket included candy (theme of the Bat Mitzvah),
water, snacks, invitations and directions to all the events. We were
very surprised, but it also made us feel very included. At the Bat
Mitzvah dinner, they also named all of the out of town families and had
them come up to take pictures with their daughter. It is difficult to
fly out of town for such an event and I often wonder if the party will
even know we are there. The basket made all the difference from the
moment we arrived Tabnand
It seems like you are well on your way to making your special guests
know how grateful you are - having a dinner for them in addition to the
Bat Mitzvah. I recently went to Madrid for a friend's son's wedding and
I felt welcome because I was included in such events. Also, the friend
and her son both thanked me for coming and said they were really
grateful. One thing they did for the pre-wedding party for ''family and
out-of-towners'' was transport us all from the hotel to the restaurant.
Then we felt we were on an excursion, something special. They didn't
give any favors or anything like that - just great food and good company
and verbal thanks. And, they spent their time with us when they were
busy. My friend also said, ''don't give them a gift, you spent so much
getting here'' (of course I did give them a gift, but again I felt
acknowledged for making a special effort).
Ideas beyond that though - a slide show making sure you have a photo
with each guest in it, a favor or momento of some kind, a toast by your
daughter to the group. Have a great time!
Mary in Oakland
I have two thoughts for you. First, if you have family/friends
travelling to this event one way to make them feel extra appreciated is
to have gift bags in their hotel rooms when they arrive. I did this for
my wedding and it was a HUGE hit. They were not expensive things, just
useful stuff like bottles of water, nice snacks, mints, a map of the
area with a list of area attractions and services. It is a really nice
thing to do. Plus, the list of things-to-do in the area gave guests some
guidance about what to do when they weren't with us. Second, a really
thoughful favor at the always makes guests feel appreciated. Not
something they can't use and will throw away but something that shows
you thought about what they would really use. It is hard for me to say
what not knowing your family but what we did (again at our wedding) was
leave a card at each place that said that we were going to make a
donation in that guests name with a charity. There were two (or three)
charities listed on the card and the guest picked which charity they
wanted. Then after the party, we grouped all the picks together and gave
the charity $5 times the number of guests who picked that card. It was
the same (or even less) than we would hav espent on favors anyway and it
made the guests feel really good. Anyway, congrats and enjoy!
One thing that makes hosting parties fun for me is to pick a theme. In
January it might be fun to pick a warm theme like Hawaiian Luau, Mexican
Fiesta, or a Jamaican theme.
Then that helps with decision-making as far as decorations, food, music,
--loves a good theme
We're starting to plan my son's Bar mitzvah for the end of
March 2007. We're thinking an afternoon party. Any ideas for
venue? I will have relatives from New York. Looking for good
places to stay. We live in Oakland hills.
Have you considered Lake Merritt United Methodist Church in
Oakland for an afternoon party? Right on Lake Merritt, near the
Kaiser Convention Center, the social hall can acommodate up to
200 guests seated. A gated courtyard with a play area is
adjacent, and makes a wonderful space if young children will be
in attendance. The facility is available for group or individual
rentals including parties, banquets, wedding receptions, etc. An
open and welcoming kind of place to people from all backgrounds.
Check out the website: www.lakemerrittumc.org. The main
restriction is no alcohol is allowed. If that's not an issue for
you, then I suggest you check it out.
I'm looking for ideas for a bar mitzvah party/event for my
son. He is not able to come up with any ideas about what it
is he would like, just a list of what he doesn't want: no DJ
with dancing, no bowling party, no sports party, etc. His
main interest is technology (now what can I do with that!?).
I want to do something nice, fun and affordable that
includes both kids and adults on a Saturday night. Any
suggestions or creative ideas?
Looking for Mr. Good Bar Mitzvah
Either the Exploratorium in SF, which could be a good spot for a party, or
Expressions New Media in Emeryville. Call them and ask if they have any
innovative party ideas.
Tech Kid Mom
Laurence Hall of Science hosts parties where they open one
or more of the labs. If your son likes the technology and
science that might be a place to have his party.
mom of a science lover
I highly recommend O-Ollie Entertainment. They
specialize in unique, one-of-a-kind parties. Check out
their website at www.o-ollie.com. Or, email them at
brian AT o-ollie.com, or call 510-558-8611.
Our daughter's 13th birthday is on the horizon and we're
beginning preparations for her Bat Mitzvah next fall. We'd
like to fill this day with a real sense of spirituality and
symbolism. We'll have family coming in from far and wide, who
haven't all been together since our wedding a hundred years
ago. So I'm wondering about, and would really appreciate, any
musings that you might have on special touches to make this day
memorable. If you've been to a comparable event, what made it
stand out, what was especially moving, what gave the event its
special feeling(s)? We'll be holding a Friday night dinner and
then a Saturday afternoon service with dinner immediately
afterward. We'll be in a lovely community center rather than
synagogue, and therefore will have no constraints about levels
of observance in a sanctuary (we are a very reform but deeply
culturally Jewish family.) Any ideas would be gratefully
received. Have checked the archives and no word on this.
Planning ahead for a special day
Hello and mazel tov on your daughter's impending Bat Mitzvah!
I want to tell you, for their daughter's Bat Mitzvah, very dear
friends of ours put together a photo montage of their
daughter's life from birth to present and set it all to
beautiful music that still brings tears to my eyes. The
Beatles' ''Black Bird'' will now always remind me of Jessica.
If you are not technically inclined, I am sure there are
services out there that will put a photo montage together for
you. I am already listing songs that we will use for a photo
montage when our sons are ready for their Bar Mitzvahs.
I have been disappointed with how commercial B'nai Mitzvahs
have become. Having something so intimate, sweet and innocent
to share with the guests really brought the focus back to what
I guarantee you, people won't stop talking about your slide
show and feeling a connection to you daughter.
Oh, I have one other idea to share with you. When my nephew was
bar mitvah'd his parents had a professional photo taken of
him. They matted an 11x14 or so and had all the guest sign the
matte board. They then framed it and have it in their home.
All the beautful wishes and sentiments of the guests will be
with my nephew throughout his life.
Good luck and have a beautiful celebration!!
I am looking for a room to rent to have my son's bar mitzvah
party for his friends. It can be rustic as it is for the kids
only, not for the adults, and we want to be able to provide the
DJ and the food. One of the problems is that the event is May
14th, and we are cutting it close to find a place. It can be
anywhere from north Oakland up to El Cerrito. Thanks for any
It's been a while since we did the Bar/Bat Mitzvah circuit, but my
daughters had their parties at the El Cerrito Community Center, and
went to parties similar to what you are planning at the Kensington Youth
Hut, Albany Community Center, Berkeley Yacht Club, and Arlington
Park Clubhouse in El Cerrito.
The Sportsman Lodge in Pinole, near Appian Way is a fabulous place for a kids'
party. It is small enough to be intimate. It overlooks the bay from its perch close to
the shoreline. This fabulous view of the bay might be appreciated more by the
chaperones than the 13 year olds. The room is comfortable, casual, and has
Try herecomestheguide.com. They have tons of listings. It is
hard to find a place where you can bring in your own food, but
the guide will give all the specifics. Good luck.
Try the Kensington Youth Hut, across from the Kensington
Does amyone have ideas for a Bar Mitzva evening celebration for a
12 yo boy who isn't into dancing. I'm looking for fun, enjoyable,
maybe a little grown-up, but fun for this age.(and it takes place
in late January)
Our son did not like to dance either, so for his Bar
Mitzvah we had a guitarist playing music, not necessarily
for dancing but beautiful in the background. We made the
party to suit his personality, which is kind of shy and
reserved. Lots of excellent food of course. Some kids
have rented a pinball machine for their party. Some
parties have a magician or even a belly dancer. Let the
celebration reflect who your child truly is, and let him
know how wonderful he is right now. It is his day to shine.
It sounds like you want ideas for an evening party for the
Bar Mitzvah boy and his friends. Make sure you ASK him if
he even wants one, and then, if he does, he'll probably
have some preferences. I wouldn't assume that he wants a
party, and if it's YOU that wants the party, do it your way
but don't force things on your son. Our son had been to Bar
Mitzvah teen parties and enjoyed them, but really didn't
want one of his own. His friends came to the Bar Mitzvah
and the lunch that followed, and one came along to the
restaurant where we had dinner that night with the out- of-
town guests, and that was really fine. Remember the focus
of the day.
Simple works, too
My son was not interested in a ''standard'' celebration for
his bar mitzvah so we took his friends to the Sunday
matinee at Yoshi's for jazz. The admission was remarkably
cheap for kids (I believe it was $5) so we looked like big
sports when we allowed kids to have all the sodas they
Our nephew, to whom we're not particularly close, is having
his Bar Mitzvah this summer. We'll be traveling back East to
His parents fall into the 'Keeping Up With the Joneses'
category, so our nephew wants for nothing. So, what to get him?
I've checked the archives for gift ideas (Shofar, money and
Kiddush Cups were suggested) but am looking for others and
would love to hear from recently Bar Mitzvah'd boys and
I would like to go the savings bond and/or charitable
contribution route. My husband would prefer to get him
something that is more fun.
So, what were the most interesting/fun/special gifts your
Thanks for your help!
Last year, for all my tween- and teenaged nieces and
nephews, I gave Kiva International gift certificates. This
is a microlending non-profit where the kid can take the
money from the certificate and choose an individual to
lend it to (from a list of people and groups with small
businesses all over the world), can then follow the
progress of the repayment of the loan, and use the repaid
funds to make another loan. It's way better than giving to
charity in their name, which can be kind of abstract,
especially for a kid--because they are involved and it's
very hands-on. They were all really intrigued, and it was
a gift aligned with my social values and a way to to get
them involved in the larger community.
worked for me
I wanted to respond with some personal experience that also
speaks to your husband's thoughts about bonds. If the child
gets everything he wants than it seems whatever you would
buy him likely would be no big thing in the scheme of an
already indulged life. On the other hand, while bonds may
seem like no fun when you're 13, I am a 38 year old woman
who has, in the last 5 years been cashing in a Bat Mitzvah
bond here and there to go on spa trips with my friends, get
massages, eat at extremely extravagant restaurants
occasionally that my current budget and income do not cover
and upgrade an occasional trip to a better class of hotel,
car or flight. So to me, I think bonds are a hell of a fun
gift...25 years later when it counts!
Future author of ''How I parlayed my Bat Mitzvah bonds into spa trips around the world''
To my way of thinking, a bar mitzvah is a joyful but
serious event and the gift should reflect that. I think
your savings bond idea is excellent.
I would suggest a gift certificate to a store that is
meaningful to him. Find out from his parents where he would
like to have a shopping opportunity and then call that
store. Maybe he's into guitars or comics or whatever. That
way the gift has a personal meaning but also gives him
flexibility to get what he wants or to put several gifts
together to buy something bigger. You could also put half
the money into a gift certificate/present and half into a
savings bond type thing.
I would warn against buying a present that is suggested by
someone who doesn't know this kid. Kids (especially ones
with well-off family friends) tend to get so many off-base
expensive gifts, or ones they can't really appreciate, that
they are just overwhelmed or numb to the whole thing. If
you want the gift to mean something to him, then I suggest
you either get him a gift tailored to his interests, or get
a savings bond type of thing that is clearly for later.
You might consider giving a $ gift starting a car-of-his-own fund. It would
solve the ''fun gift'' and an acknowledgment of his more adult status.
Money. Especially since he wants for nothing. That is
the one thing you can be sure he'll actually like. Please
don't get him a shofar unless you want to be the object of
jokes (behind your back) forever. Or anything else that
will soon become clutter/junk.
I've been giving trees for teh NRDC ''Revive a Rainforest''
campaign for gifts recently. Maybe not substantial enough?
I also read this interesting piece on philanthropy. A
foundation gave $1500/participant to a group that
trained ''underserved / at risk'' youth in 'how to evaluate
and give to charities'. It was a NYC program that met
regularly for many months and evaluated various local
charities. The At Risk youths were able to see all of the
other people out there in greater need than themselves.
At the end of the program, the youths were able to direct
the giving within the range of eligible charities. Maybe
this could be adapted - your nephew could do research and
decide where a chunk of money was donated? Would be nice
to have a structured way to do that...
unimpressed with teh trappings of success
My nephew will be Bar Mitzvah in June in New York. I would like ideas for a
sentimental/special/unusual gift that he will cherish. He is very indulged and the
idea of just giving him another gift (he will get many) is not appealing to me. When
his sister was Bat Mitzvah I gave her a Teddy Bear made of fur from her great
grandmother's fur coat. It was a hit with everyone (parents, grandparents, and her).
I have no similar gift ideas now for her brother. I noticed some previous suggestions
for a shofar. He already has one. Any suggestions?
Sometimes a donation in the child's name is very much appreciated by the
bar mitzvah kid, esp. if you accompany the donation with specifics of
what the organization does. This is an especially meaningful gift for
the child who ''has everything.'' And there are some wonderful
charities out there related to Israel and other non-Israeli causes. You
can google all sorts of charities.
How about naming a star after him, or sending him a gift cert. and
having him pick a star (you can choose the constellation) and name it
whatever he wants? You can Google the Nat'l Star Registry.
I have 2 nephews whose bar mitzvahs were 10 years apart. I gave each of
them a pair of tickets to see the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. For
the younger boy, their father (my brother) ended up buying another pair
and taking his older son and a friend along. I found out what teams
they were interested in seeing and I bought tickets (most recently
online) from whatever the most likely source was at the time. It's a
lot easier to do that now than it was 10 years ago. In my case, I
didn't think the boys would want more Jewish paraphernalia than they
were going to get from other people, and I wanted to give something more
personal than a check.
I reread the past postings and thought a yad would be good for an aunt
to give, but you have to do it in advance so he can read the Torah with
it during the Bar Mitzvah. The other thing that would be special and
unusual would be a havdalah set. The following isn't special, but
another thing I like to give is a Jewish cookbook - American or
As the mother of a recent Bar Mitzvah I have to tell you that my son's
most favorite gifts were money or gift cards.
I know they are impersonal, but it's what he loved. He bought his own
computer with some of the money, bought electronic games, music, etc.
with some and put some away in a college acct.
No one gave him any ''items'' that he absolutely loved. Some really nice
books. What I found most dear were the messages people wrote to him in
This may not be helpful, but it's my 2 cents.
I'm not sure how much you want to spend, but what about giving him a
trip to come visit you for a long weekend and do some fun things he
enjoys that are special to California. My grandmother gave me a trip to
visit in her NYC for my Bat Mitzvah and we went to several Broadway
shows. It was my first trip by myself and I felt very grown-up (which
is part of what the Bar Mitzvah is all about). Good luck and Mazel Tov!
We have 2 Bat Mitzvahs to attend in the near future, one here in Berkeley and the
other on the east coast. Does anyone have any ideas for what would be a nice gift?
What do 12 year old girls want these days? What says, ''Congratulations on this step
to becoming a grown up!''? For both we were thinking of something in the $20-$50
--not as in touch with the teens these days
My son got lots of gift cards for his Bar Mitzvah which he loved.
He also got checks for various amounts of money.
Unless you're really close to this girl and know what she likes
I'd suggest a gift card or money and she can buy something she
My son's gift cards came mostly from Barnes and Noble, Game Stop
(video game store in EC), Tower Records, and a few other
stores...HOpe this helps...
I think the best Bat Mitzvah gifts are the ones that can be
appreciated over time. I like to give jewelry. If you can go
in with someone to get a silver necklace from Tiffany (approx
$100), that would be great. Or, if you want to stay in your
price range of $20-$50, I would check out the jewelry at
Afikomen, your local jewelry store or even Macy's. I still have
some of the jewelry I received from my Bat Mitzvah which was 23
years ago. Good luck!
That way, since they are 'adults' now, they can CHOOSE the
gifts they want. My suggestion: Places like Best Buy and
Tower Records where they have video games and music,
CD players and walkmans, etc.
You'll guiding them to a place where they can pick and
choose from a selection of things they probably already
want. Making the selection process easier for you. Then all
you need to do is buy a card!
I gave my cousin two nice reference books. One was an Oxford
dictionary of American English and the other was JPS's new Jewish
Study Bible. I personally researched these choices so I know
they're good quality. Both were published within the last year,
so I was pretty sure she didn't have either already (and she
didn't). Sure, she probably won't use either for a few years, but
they're nice to have around and a good book lasts forever.
Check out this beautiful web site that has Jewish related gifts
and a whole section on Bat/Bar Mitzvah ideas. Also, when you
buy something the owner of the web site donates 10% to the
charity of your choice. You could also get a gift certificate
I am very close to my niece who is having her Bat Mitzvah at
the end of the month. I want to get her something really
special. She is a very lovely talented young girl, smart,
artistic, loves shopping, girlfriends etc etc. I don't want to
just give her money but for the life of me can't come up with
something that would be special and indicative of our
closeness. I'm looking for ideas and suggestions of what
others have done. Thank you!
I would suggest a shofar. I bought one for a special Bar Mitzvah
gift and it was so well received. Afikoman has a wide variety of
shofars of different sizes & prices. You can try them out and see
which one is easier to blow and has a nice sound. I was told it
was the most special gift he received. Good luck.
I gave my favorite niece a very nice necklace purchased from Afikomen -
on Claremont in Berkeley. There is a great selection of different gifts; it's
better than even just a couple of years ago. I think you'll find something
that you like for your niece.
Time and your company are always the best gift, especially if you are as close as you say. Perhaps you could take her for a weekend ''just girls'' trip? Unless she considers you to be ancient (smile), I bet she'd really enjoy an overnight adventure with a creative-who-is-not-mom-or-dad. Take her to a spa for a
weekend, or to another city (LA?) for a cultural adventure. Obviously it won't be an ''adult'' trip, but for a thirteen year old it'll feel like one, and that transition into adulthood is a big part of what the bat mitzvah is about. At 13, having adults who treat you like a peer (ok, not quite, but close) is *really* exciting; after all, she's probably tired of people making comments about ''how much [she's] grown'' and the like.
I have given several girls a ''Miriam's Cup'' that I selected at
What about a special piece of jewelry? I gave my sister-in-
law a pair or silver earrings from Tiffany & Co. for her
graduation, and a matching necklace a few years later for
her sweet 16. She still wears them. I think jewelry is a very
personal gift, and there is just something about that little
blue box. Good luck!
What about a kiddush cup? That's what we gave to our two nieces and I
hope they think they are special and will continue to use them for many
years. Or perhaps some other ritual object, such as a spice box, a yad
(pointer) that could be used to read the Torah during the service,
candlesticks, or a mezuzah. Or special jewelry. My daughters both
received earrings from Tiffany's from an aunt and uncle. Money is nice,
but it quickly gets put in the bank and somewhat forgotten, at least in our
Would it be possible to take your niece on a special vacation
just the two of you? Is there a place she'd love to go to that
the two of you could go for a week, or if it's closer, for a
long weekend? I bring this up because my son, who will become a
Bar Mitzvah next year wants his uncle to take him to Japan (not
sure yet if that will happen, but it's what he's asked for).
It'll be a gift your niece will remember forever, as opposed to
something that you could buy to give her that may be outgrown or
forgotten over time. Enjoy
For special Bat Mitzvah gifts, I've given silver necklaces (the
ones with the charm on it - like a floating heart or the bean
shape) from Tiffany's. A box from Tiffany's always seems
special (no matter how old you are) and the necklaces are good
for any age. She'll have it forever. Cost is about $85. Happy
If you are very close to your niece, why not buy her a special time
together? You could spend a special luxury weekend together in San
Francisco, go shopping, enjoy each others' company, go to museums,
etc. This could be a treat for both of you. You could also give her some
money to spend, but the major part of the gift would be time spent
together. You could provide her with a memory that will last a long time.
You're A Nice Auntie!
Can anyone suggest an appropriate Bat Mitzvah gift for the daughter of someone
you know professionally? We're unable to attend the Bat Mitzvah and we've
never met the daughter, but very much like the father, and though the
relationship with him is based on professional circumstances, feel like he
was reaching out in a personal way by inviting us. If the answer (as we
suspect) is that a check is best, can you suggest a ball park figure? We're
really in the dark on this one.
For a bar mitzvah gift or bris or any other life cycle event, it
is often appropriate to give either $18 or $36. In jewish
numerology (called gematria), the number 18 represents the hebrew
word ''chai'' which means life. 36 is double chai. Both are
appreciated, and show that you know a little bit about jewish
culture. Only you can know whether those amounts are too low in
your situation. Like any other monetary gift, $50 or $100 is
I usually give a book -- if you're jewish, a book of Jewish
literature or poetry by women , or a book on the holidays. If
you're not Jewish a general anthology of literature by women --
after all the bat mitzvah celebrates the girl joining the
community of adults and she deserves a gift that honors her
For someone you don't know well personally, you could give:
- a check, multiple of $18, the number for ''life''
- a gift certificate to Afikomen Judaica shop, again multiple of
$18. You can buy by phone and they'll send it to her or you.
- a book about Jewish women, e.g., see
http://www.kolot.com/nathat/natfem.shtml or http://www.jew-
- a donation or membership in her name to something important to
you or her. Does she love small children, animals, care about
music? I usually give to Doctors without Borders, UNICEF, Oxfam.
I think this kind of gift is the most meaningful for your
I'm curious to see what everyone else says, but the amount
I've given for the past 5 years is $50. I do a gift certificate
(Barnes and Nobles/Borders) or a US Bond.
Yes, a check is what I would recommend, especially since you don't
know the girl. Traditionally people give in increments of (i.e., $18, $36)
because the word ''life'' in Hebrew has a numerical equivalent of 18.
There is no right answer here, but just for example, if I don't attend the
bat mitzvah and I don't know the girl that well, I give $18. I suggest you
give something similarly modest because you don't want your friend to
feel awkward that you felt a big obligation.
My son had his Bar Mitzvah last year and got lots of gift
certificates to Borders and Tower Records and numerous
checks in varying amounts ranging from $25 to $100. One
thing you might do if you want to give a check, is to write it
for $36.00 which symbolizes a double chai (life) and would
have personal meaning to the Bat Mitzvah girl.
Hope this helps.
For checks, amounts in multiples of 18 are nice, since 18 is the
numerical equivalent of ''chai'' or life in hebrew. Other gifts
could be monogrammed stationery. Someone gave me a very nice
dictionary and it is my household dictionary to this day. I
would simply think of the bat mitzvah as a very special
birthday. Jasper Johns did a painting of a pen once and titled
in w/ something to do w/ a bar mitzvah. That must have been the
gift 'du jour' in the 1950s.
Money is always an appropriate Bat Mitzvah gift, and
traditionally is given in multiples of $18. $18 or $36
checks are common gifts. In addition to cash, gift
certificates to stores (Borders, Cody's, Barnes and Noble,
Amsterdam Art) were among my daughters' favorites. My
daughter, who recently celebrated her Bat Mitzvah, also
received a gift card that was like a credit card. It was
issued by Bank of America, I think, and could be used
anywhere a Visa-type card was accepted. She really liked
it because it could be used at her discretion, and didn't
require her to go to a specific store to purchase
I think the amount you spend once you've said you like the
parents is determined by the profession you and the parents are
in and therefore your income. If you're both attorneys or
physicians I'd think $75-125 in the form of a check or a silver
piece of jewelry from Tiffany (very popular w/ 13 yr old girls
in SF!) If you're both teachers or something similar, I'd say
$25 ro $40 would be fine!!!
As for a bat mitzvah gift, if you are giving money, you give in
multiples of $18. The number 18 represents Chai, which means Life. So
any multiple of $18 will do as a gift.
I think if you are not going to the Bat Mitzvah and you do not
know the girl at all, a check is best and using a multiple of
18 (i.e., $36,$54 or $72, whichever seems appropriate) is a
nice way to give the money. The number 18 is the numerology for
the Hebrew word ''Chai'' meaning ''life.'' I would package it in a
flat gift box with a bow and card on top. You could also
include in the box a beautiful, but not expensive, pen (in the
spirit of the ''fountain pen'' - which is another traditional
Bar/Bat Mitzvah gift.)
''Chai'' or luck is 18. Hence, a check in multiples of $18 ($18
is just fine for someone you don't know well; if you're
well-off, you can multiply).
Your best bet is to go to Afikomen, a store filled with Judaica
and right now saving the perfect gift for the bat mitzvah girl.
They are helpful, learned, sweet and have had the same question
posed to them a thousand times. They know what to do.
Personally, I shy away from checks. But that's just my own
inclination. Last time a similar situation arose, we went to
Afikomen and got a collection of stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer,
and a CD of Sephardic music for the girl. Something a bit
serious, and something to celebrate her arrival as an adult. But
there is so much there to choose from. You should have no trouble
finding something. Afikomen is on Claremont Blvd where The
Uplands dead ends into it, a few blocks from the Claremont Hotel.
Phone number: 204-1880 Good luck (mazel tov)
Gift Suggestions for my niece's Bat Mitzvah
My 12-year-old niece is preparing for her bat mitzvah and I need some
suggestions for a gift ...
My 12 year old daughter who is also preparing for her bat mitzvah offers
the following suggestions for your niece: cash, clothes, computer games
(she was playing one when I asked), or jewelery. She thought the idea of a
CD encyclopedia was especially bad and agreed with your husband's assessment
of the SF trip. I'd also suggest asking the girl's parents for some
As the parent of a daughter who became Bat Mitzvah two years ago and a son
whose Bar Mitzvah was last month (and, of course, the corollary: someone
who has given many presents for these occasions), I have some thoughts that
The cash presents are forgetable for the kids, impersonal, although they
seem excited by the idea at the time. Some of the books the kids got
seemed very meaningful, not when they opened them up, but later. (Although
my son spent the day after his Bar Mitzvah reading a book about
basketball.) My daughter loves a serious watch one of my brothers gave
her, although she never uses it. (She's saving it, she says. But I think
it must seem adult to her in a way that made sense for a Bat Mitzvah.)
Someone gave her a beautifully crafted box in which she keeps all the
cards, her speech, etc. from the Bat Mitzvah. I think that my son's all
time favorite gift was a shofar! He spent two solid days driving us crazy
(but it was also charming) blowing it in preparation for next year's
My daughter also likes arts. Someone gave her a lovely bookbinding kit
which she loved; and she has gone on to make a number of handbound books.
I try to give kids something that they will have after they're done being
13. I am well past 13 and I still have a few things I received for my Bat
Mitzvah in 1964, some jewelry, a couple of books.
>From their peers, the kids get (and give) earrings (kid taste and budget),
gift certificates to book and record stores, sports stuff, games, cash. I
think that the whole present thing around this event is very complicated
and can get pretty charged. Good luck!
The newsgroup soc.culture. jewish.parenting had a thread on bar/bat mitzvah
gift ideas a long time ago. You could probably look it up in dejanews
(http://www.dejanews.com). There's also been discussion there of ideas on
having the child donate part of "the proceeds" to charity.
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