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Marking the occasion

Giving meaningful gifts can add to b’nai mitzvah memories

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At a loss on what to get someone for his or her bar or bat mitzvah? You likely aren’t alone. Buying the right gift may feel difficult and overwhelming, in part because there are many quality options available – especially from local businesses throughout Northeast Ohio. 

For those in need of a little gift-giving direction, Thomas Lockshin, executive director of Israel Bonds for Ohio and Kentucky, and Ann Swope, administrative assistant for Robert & Gabriel Jewelers in Lyndhurst, provide some insight. 

Israel bonds are a common gift, especially coming from family friends and relatives of the child, Lockshin says, explaining the bonds make a meaningful gift for a child’s bar or bat mitzvah. While perhaps not as flashy as, say, a video game, the bonds provide a practical and useful opportunity to secure money for the child’s future.

“It’s a gift of substance,” he says.

Mazel Tov Bonds start at $100 and can be increased in increments of $10, says Lockshin, adding they’re the most popular gift option. There are also eMitzvah Bonds, which start at $36 and can be increased by increments of $18 – and are available online.

“We provide a beautiful gift announcement for free with purchase of any bond that’s being given as a gift,” says Lockshin, whose office is in Beachwood.

Both types of bonds mature at five years and grow at an annual rate of 3.15 percent. A child who receives a $100 Mazel Tov bond at age 13 will be able to withdraw $116.78 at age 18.

Aside from the dollar value, purchasing Israel bonds allows a child having a bar or bat mitzvah to support Israel. 

 “It’s an investment and it supports every aspect of Israel’s economy,” Lockshin says. “It’s an enhancement of that support of Israel. It’s something they can feel really good about.”

For those looking to give a more tangible gift, jewelry is a time-honored option. Robert & Gabriel Jewelers offers a variety of jewelry for boys and girls, including bracelets, necklaces, watches and Judaica.

Kiddush cups, with options ranging from traditional to contemporary, are some of the most popular items, Swope says, adding customers often engrave them – and some even leave room for the child to have his or her future children’s names engraved.

“People are starting a new tradition so that they have something for the rest of their life,” she says. 

For bat mitzvahs, Swope says necklaces are the most popular gifts, with earrings, rings and jewelry boxes not far behind. For boys, watches are always a hit, as well as signet rings, she says. Also, many of Robert & Gabriel Jeweler’s popular b’nai mitzvah items include Judaic symbols, like the Star of David and chai.

Also, many families purchase sterling silver jewelry for children – and sometimes gold.

“Since this is a transition into adulthood, the families tend to transition their items into something of better quality,” Swope says, adding that based on her experience, parents often spend $500 or less on their children, and friends of the family spend about $100. 

-Alec Slovenec

This article appeared in the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of Bar•Bat Mitzvah.