How Much Should You Give For A Bat Mitzvah Gift?
Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.
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Most of you are probably familiar with the term “Bar Mitzvah”, but you might get invited sometime soon to a “Bat Mitzvah”. In the Jewish religion, generally when a girl turns the age of 12 (for Orthodox and Conservative) and 13 (for Reform) there is a celebration where the girl becomes recognized as an adult (woman). When I turned the age of 13, I had my own Bar Mitzvah, where my friends, family, and distant relatives I saw once upon a family reunion showed up to hear me belt out a poorly sung haftorah. The Bat (the word meaning daughter) Mitzvah celebration you will attend can range from something that will happen at the home with just a few friends and family to a lavish style wedding event at a country club. I’ve witnessed some parents spend $50,000 to $100,000 to throw a Bat Mitzvah. Oy vey! So, what in the world do you get the young woman on her special Bat Mitzvah day?
First things first . . . A bat mitzvah isn’t a wedding and shouldn’t be treated at all with the same light as a wedding. Although some parents choose to spend the same amount or more on their daughter’s bat mitzvah, it simply isn’t the wedding. The kid is only turning the age of 12 or 13! We also need to separate whether just your child is being invited to the event or you are being invited as an entire family. Unlike weddings, I do think it also matters how close you are to the actual child and family having the bat mitzvah. That being said, here are three ideas.
Let’s talk about this whole Jewish history around the number 18. Times have changed, but I can distinctly recall my cousin Melvin giving me a gift of “chai” which was $18 bucks. Even in 1982 $18 doesn’t take you very far if you want to buy anything. The word for "life" in Hebrew is "chai." The two Hebrew letters that make up the word "chai" are chet and yud. Chet is equivalent to 8 and yud is equivalent to 10. So "chai", chet and yud together, equals 18. Giving money in multiples of $18 is symbolic of giving "chai" or life. There are many people who give money in multiples of $18 as presents to someone celebrating a birth, a bar or bat mitzvah, or a wedding.
If just your child is going to the bat mitzvah, don’t spend money on gift cards or savings bonds. I simply think that isn’t a good idea. You’ll be encouraging another teenager to go out and buy more stuff when they can be saving that money for their future. A gift in the order of something like triple ‘chai’ or $54 would be a neat idea to give from teenager to teenager at the bat mitzvah.
Often, jewelry that becomes a cherished item for many years to come can be a good idea as an alternative to cash. Jewelry that has the Jewish star or ‘chai’ can be a fantastic idea. You can look at a website such as www.judaicawebstore.com to look at various types of jewelry that can be appropriate within your budget. There are also ideas such as Kabbalah bracelets and other interesting necklaces that can be appropriate.
While cash and jewelry may be the most popular items, you could consider some other alternative ideas. One idea is to create a special Jewish recipe and adding in all of the cookware/bakeware necessary to make the recipe along with a Jewish cookbook. You could make a special donation to a charity in the name of the person having the Bat Mitzvah as well, although not my most recommended option. Another cool idea would be to set up a small trip to an area so the young woman can start to see different parts of the country.
No matter what your faith, gift giving is always one of the toughest challenges we have in making day to day smart money moves. It’s often a struggle that you’ll continue to discuss when the envelope is closed and you are on the way to the bat mitzvah. Once you get there the damage is done one way or another, so make sure to at least get into a little Hava Nagila action and carry a leg of the chair during the joyous festivities. And please no gold coins . . . unless they are real:)
oXYGen Financial, Inc. co-CEO Ted Jenkin is one of the foremost knowledgeable professionals in giving financial advice to the X and Y Generation.
TED JENKIN IS SECURITIES LICENSED THROUGH INVESTACORP, INC. A REGISTERED BROKER/DEALER MEMBER FINRA, SIPC. ADVISORY SERVICES OFFERED THROUGH INVESTACORP ADVISORY SERVICES, INC. A SEC REGISTERED INVESTMENT ADVISORY FIRM. Linked sites are strictly provided as a courtesy. Investacorp, Inc., and its affiliates, do not guarantee, approve nor endorse the information or products available at these sites nor do links indicate any association with or endorsement of the linked sites by Investacorp, Inc. and its affiliates.