Cash or Present? – How much to give for a Bar Mitzvah?

Dror Bederman

Dror Bederman

Tour Designer and Expert Tour Guide in Israel.

How much to give for a Bar Mitzvah

You just got invited to a Bar Mitzvah, but you are not sure what to bring – a present or money?  and if money, check or cash? and how much?

We want to help you decide and so we collected some factors you need to consider when deciding.

Bear in mind that, though in other countries bringing a present to a Bar Mitzvah is a common thing; in Israel, it has now become the custom to bring money, in the form of a check or cash.

The main reason for that is the understanding that most of the money goes back to the parents to cover their expenses.

Also, most people do not have the time or the energy to search for a present or they do not want to bring something that will not be used, so they prefer to bring money.

Nowadays, every Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah becomes quite a production – the grand venue, the catering, the photographer, the D.J., the Limousine, the Magnets for the guests, and so on and so forth.

All of these ensure that you enjoy a high quality even, but they also make it very expensive for the parent.

How to Choose Bar or Bat Mitzvah Gifts

And so the question comes up:  how much do you give?

Well, the decision of how much to give is your own private decision, but there are a few factors you may want to consider such as your closeness to the family, the quality and location of the event hall, the quality of the food and the number of guests.

All of these are just some of the factors that will affect your decision.

So, if you are having a hard time to decide what to bring or how much to bring to the Bar Mitzvah boy or Bat Mitzvah girl, you should consider the following:

How much to give for a Bar Mitzvah

Are you family or just friends?

First and second family members will usually give a generous sum of money, something around 400 – 1,000 shekels (120-280 $), and sometimes even more.  

However, no need to be alarmed.

If you are a family you can share a present with the parents or the brothers, so the amount of money you give can be lower.

Or, you can check with other family members how much they plan to give, to get an estimation of what is accustomed or what is considered a too small amount

If you are friends of the family, you should be giving according to how close you are to the family.

If you are very good friends of the family or closely-related neighbors, you are expected to give a nice sum to the Bar Mitzvah boy, which is a bit more than is accustomed.

If you are not that related to the family, or you are a work colleague, your participating in the event will not go unnoticed when considering the sum you brought.

However, you should at least give an amount that will cover your meal and not less than the usual amount that is given in such occasions which is usually around 150 – 300 ILS (50-100$) per person.  

If you are coming as a couple, you need to at least double the amount of money you give. 

The Venue

Bear in mind that the expectation is that the gifts of money will cover the event, especially when it is a lavish event.

Therefore, check out where the event is taking place. If it is taking place in a luxurious event hall or garden and if you know that there will be a performance or anything similar, you should give a higher amount than what is acceptable. 

Note that event halls in the center are more expensive than event halls in the periphery, which should be a factor when you decide on the amount of money you plan on giving.

An additional factor to be considered is the catering which is quite expensive in such venues, so it is acceptable that the gift of money will at least cover the cost of the meal.

Time and date of the event

An event taking place in the summertime will be much more expensive than an event taking place in any other season, as summer is the high events season in Israel.

Also, if you are invited on a Thursday night, the price goes even higher.

These two factors should also be taken into consideration when deciding on the sum of money.  

Optional present list

Should you want to give a more personal present than money, it is recommended that you consult with the boy’s or the girl’s parents first.

This way you can surprise them with what they wanted most and make everyone happy. It is also acceptable to bring a present together with a money gift and then the sum of money can be lower.

Possible gifts can be a Wii, Sony PlayStation, LCD TV, Laptop, IPhone, IPad and such.

One Last tip before the trip

If you are deliberating between two sums, it is recommended to always go for the higher amount. Bear in mind that the people who invite you today, may be invited by you and you would want them to be as generous as you were on their event.

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