Gift Filter
November 8, 2004 8:19 PM   Subscribe

What's a good traditional gift to give a Jewish father upon the birth of his second child?
posted by falconred to Shopping (11 answers total)
A Menorah! Wait... a box of cigars.

Wait... well, what kind of stuff does he like?
posted by cadastral at 9:08 PM on November 8, 2004

a gift for the dad? for the kid? for the family? traditional jewish baby gifts tend to be ritual objects that set the kid on a path of learning, observance and good deed type things. kiddush cups like these are pretty traditional. you might also try something like a tzedakah (charity) box, or making a donation to a jewish charity in the new child's name. i'm partial to the new israel fund, myself, or jewish family services, since it's a family thing.
posted by judith at 9:18 PM on November 8, 2004

Yes, this question is too vague. And i'm guessing by "traditional", you mean "palpably jewish". However, I think some of the ritualized, religious items that judith mentioned are usually deemed appropriate only through the responsibility of family members and very close friends...and anything else is given to the boy for his bar mitzvah by his synogogue. You're possibly thinking a gift like a talmud (hebrew prayer book) or tallit & tallit bag (prayer shawl)? Well, these are all inappropriate...

If you want to get him a "jewish" gift, i second judith's suggeston re: the tsadakah box, which is a secular item, but integral to Jewish tradition. 'Tsadakah' is hebrew for 'charity', but also interchangable to describe a decorative box, where you collect spare change that is then donated to eretz Israel or an Israeli foundation. The tsadakah boxes range in quality/materials and you can spend from $20 to $2000. Another nice "jewish" gift is a keepah (skullcap)...and i've seen some really cute designs for babies. A boy will collect dozens of keepahs throught his lifetime (his head keeps growing), and they tend to get lost also, so it's always a nice present.

The last gift suggestion is perhaps one of the many Israel "plant a tree" foundations, which run anywhere from $5-$20 per tree. The great thing about this is that you can dedicate each tree as a memorial to a deceased family member, which is especially relevant considering that Jews usually name their children after dead relatives. I've only planted trees in Israel in person, and on both occassions the tree farms were on hills of the suburbs of Jerusalem. I'm not sure how it would work online, but i'm sure you'd get a certificate or something that you could present to the family and put it in a nice frame. If you go with this option, email me, and I'll dig up the info on the reputable places in Israel i've been, and i can send you digital pictures to give you an idea of the environs.

Additionally, most Jewish museums have fabulous gift shops that are open to the public (without museum admission), and have all sorts of relgious and secular items. Also, prominant synagogues in big cities usually have a gift shop as well. You could always start there and ask the clerks for suggestions if you don't like anything here.
posted by naxosaxur at 10:11 PM on November 8, 2004

My brothers and I all had trees planted for us in Israel when we were born, but I'd recommend a donation to a charity in the kid's name, or a savings bond. If you know what causes the parents are interested in, it's easy--or you can ask--they'll be pleased.
posted by amberglow at 10:22 PM on November 8, 2004

Best answer: i'd quibble with the answer above (that's part of our fine tradition, the quibbling) and say that:

a) you can never have too many kiddush cups, so no worries that close family might have already purchased them
b) no assuming the kid is a boy!
c) we still don't know if it's a gift for the kid/dad/family
d) i don't think a talmud (which isn't a prayer book) or other jewish book is at all inappropriate. a nice more secular book might be telushkin's jewish literacy compendium.
e) the tree thing is good - the best organization for that is jnf, i think.
posted by judith at 10:28 PM on November 8, 2004

'Tsadakah' is hebrew for 'charity'

Sorry to be pedantic, but it's actually Hebrew for "justice" or "righteousness", though in practical use it has come to be associated with the English translation of "charity", but there's a theological difference too, not just an etymological one.

I second the Plant a Tree in Israel suggestion--you can do it online here via JNF, the Jewish National Fund.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:30 PM on November 8, 2004

I had trees planted in my name as well. So another vote for that.
posted by PenDevil at 11:31 PM on November 8, 2004

Thank you Asparagirl for the link; i was only supplying the literal hebrew translation for tsadakah, so it's nice to have context. And judith, i have no idea why i was assuming it's a boy! How sexist of me...
posted by naxosaxur at 7:05 AM on November 9, 2004

Response by poster: I was being vague on purpose to get a general overview. The child is not yet born, and the sex is unknown at the moment. I'm not a super-close friend or family member. I think the tree idea sounds great!

Thanks, everyone.
posted by falconred at 8:17 AM on November 9, 2004

I've heard the trees thing is a big sham, btw...and the JNF was not a well-run charity in the 90s--at all.

An internal probe of JNF led to disclosures in the fall that far less money than expected -- roughly 20 percent -- actually makes it to Israel annually for tree-planting and other land development projects. Historically, this has been JNF's central mission.
posted by amberglow at 9:46 AM on November 9, 2004

falconred, I twice used Jewish National Fund's KKL: Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael program, and can't verify amberglow's claims because both times i went in person in Jerusalem. They literally lead you through the hills, hand you a shovel and a baby tree, and you start shoveling. I mean, you physically plant it yourself and then pay. As far as the online service, who knows if you're paying for their lunch or their office supplies?

Anyway, if you use the link above, it will take you to the website of the service i used. The website seems very organized, and I found links to choose both location and pricing. As far as location, I would caution against Eliat, which is lush enough as is (resort area). You're safe with Jerusalem, Tiberias, or Safed, as these are very significant cities. Here is a sample certificate that you receive after your virtual planting.
posted by naxosaxur at 8:47 PM on November 9, 2004

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