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What’s a Good B’Nai Mitzvah Gift? And What If the Kid Doesn’t Care?

Welcome to Mommyblogging Dearest, your guide to Jewish parenting online — hipster and otherwise. What thirteen-year-olds want: Eternal popularity, to be left alone, and the Nintendo Wii. What you should get them for their B’Nai Mitzvot, however, is anybody’s guess. … Read More

By / February 7, 2008

Welcome to Mommyblogging Dearest, your guide to Jewish parenting online — hipster and otherwise.

What thirteen-year-olds want: Eternal popularity, to be left alone, and the Nintendo Wii. What you should get them for their B’Nai Mitzvot, however, is anybody’s guess. This is that rare parenting issue that’s totally relevant to non-parents as well: People with teenage children definitely get invited to more Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, but anyone with Jewish relatives eventually winds up in Barnes and Noble the night before a big event, wondering if The Catcher in the Rye is a horribly pedantic thing to give a budding adolescent.

This is, of course, why gift certificates exist, but how much should you give? Over in the forums section of Modern Jewish Mom, posters seem torn between $36 and $200. The latter, of course, has the advantage of being twice 18, which is a lucky number in Jewish superstition. Then again, $200 has the advantage of being 2/3 of the price of a Wii.

B’Nai Mitzvot always wind up being a disturbing mix of consumerism and tradition, so perhaps it’s not a surprise that elsewhere in the same forum is a heartfelt plea from a mom whose child has announced that she’s not interested in studying for her Bat Mitzvah and she doesn’t care about Judaism. It’s an old question, but also an eternal one. Shouldn’t the ritual mean something to the kid?