What Is an Appropriate Cash Gift for a Bar Mitzvah?

A Bar Mitzvah is one of the most symbolic and important occasions for a young Jewish man and his family. For guests attending the Bar Mitzvah ceremony, whether family or friends, finding an appropriate gift to congratulate and show appreciation for the guest of honor is an important task. For those giving cash gifts, a few simple guidelines should be followed.


General Guidelines

According the Mitzvah Chic, the dollar value normally used for birthdays is a good starting point for a Bar Mitzvah gift, but the occasion must also be set apart from normal birthdays. So a 50 percent increase in the amount is appropriate to signify the uniqueness of the occasion. The specific amount given should be based on a family's financial standing. Amounts from $25 for distant family members, to $200 or more for close friends are all considered appropriate.


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In Hebrew, the symbol chai represents life and the living. The numeric representation of this symbol is the numeral 18, so it is a tradition to give cash gifts in $18 increments at Bar Mitzvahs. For example, gifts of $18, $36 and $180 should all be considered and would be in accordance with this tradition.


Children's Gifts

Bar Mitzvah's are likely attended by many of the young friends and family of the guest of honor. For children looking to give a great Bar Mitzvah gift, the thought obviously counts more than a significant financial contribution. With this in mind, the tradition of giving in multiples of $18 to represent chai still applies. Mitzvah Chic recommends a minimum gift of $18, unless the child's financial situation requires otherwise.



Bar Mitzvah attendees shouldn't be afraid to stray from tradition and replace cash with other gifts. Gift cards are a great way to keep in the tradition of honoring chai while still conveying the time and thought it takes to pick the perfect store for the guest of honor. For guests without the financial resources to make a large cash gift, a simple note or memorable keepsake is still considered appropriate and heartfelt.



The Bar Mitzvah planning website Doctor Simcha recommends giving a cash gift in a unique and memorable way. This can include folding the gift into creative shapes using origami techniques or storing it in a new wallet to enhance the gift even more. More fun ideas include special soap with dollar bills contained inside it or a piggy bank pre-filled with your gift amount.