There are many times when you need to buy a Jewish person a gift: Bar Mitzvahs, Weddings, Hanukkah, Passover, Purim and other holidays.
This article is aimed at the non-Jewish person looking to buy an authentic gift for a Jewish friend. Here is a list of celebrations and suggestions of what you might buy.
Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah
A Bar Mitzvah is a celebration of a boy moving into manhood and becoming responsible for his actions. A Bat Mitzvah is the same thing, but for a girl.
If you are invited to a Bar Mitzvah then it is customary to bring a gift. Gifts should be taken to the celebration afterward and not to the synagogue. Usually specifically Jewish gifts such as Kiddush cups or tailing (phylacteries) are given by parents or grandparents, so think of the child and what he would like as a gift and buy him that. It doesn’t have to be a Jewish gift for the Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
Usually, money, candy or small gifts are given to children each day through the celebration of Hanukkah. The reason is to teach them to give some away to those less fortunate. Children are given gifts and then give some of those gifts away.
The traditional Jewish gifts for holidays to buy people when they get married are the same as non-Jewish. When two people set up home together, they want all the usual linens and kitchen equipment that you usually see on a wedding present list.
For the bride and groom, they may wish to buy wedding bands with Hebrew Scriptures written on them.
The main fun for children at Passover is the hunt for the afikomen or dessert. Sometimes the whole dessert is hidden, and sometimes just a part. When once it has been found, small gifts are given to the children. These are often snacks or stickers.
The gifts given during the festival of Purim are to friends and to the poor. They are often food or money.
For other times of the year, if you wish to give gifts to your Jewish friends, you may consider a Mezuzah and Scroll. This is something you put on the doorposts of your house to remember G-d when you go in and go out.
Jewelry is always good for gifts. You can buy jewelry for each of the occasions mentioned above, especially for the girl celebrating her Bat Mitzvah.