Do’s and Don’ts of Gifting at Jewish Weddings

January 13, 2014 8:17 am 1 comment

An Orthodox Jewish wedding. Photo: Wikipedia.

JNS.orgNot another challah board! That’s the collective cry heard ’round the Jewish world when newlyweds receive a Judaica gift they already possess. Don’t be that friend—follow my simple do’s and don’ts for Jewish wedding gifts.

DO…

Be creative

There are inventive spins on Judaica items that are sure to leave a more lasting impression than their traditional counterparts. Kiddush cup? How about a Kiddush cup fountain instead? It includes a center cup as well as 8-12 matching small cups, and when the reciter of Kiddush pours the wine from the center cup into the base of the fountain, the wine trickles down into the small cups. This avoids the clumsiness of pouring Kiddush wine for each person at a large Shabbat meal, and perhaps more importantly, the streamlined process routinely elicits “oohs” and “aahs” from guests. Challah board? How about a challah board breadbasket? This challah board transforms itself into a basket for distributing challah to guests after it is cut, keeping the Shabbat table uncluttered.

Think practically

Mull over this question: What Judaica does the couple really need around the house? More specifically, what does the couple need more than one of? A mezuzah (with a decorative case) immediately comes to mind, given the multiple doorposts in Jewish homes calling for one. Even more practical—and more memorable—is providing the glass cup that the groom will break with his foot under the chuppah, along with a broken wedding glass mezuzah, whose case includes room for those sentimental shards.

Give cash

Are you thinking that cash isn’t sentimental enough, and that the couple won’t “remember you” if you don’t give a unique gift? Don’t talk yourself into that myth. You’ll be remembered quite fondly for your cash gift, with which the newlyweds can buy anything they desire.

DON’T…

Be a copycat

The couple will likely get multiple challah boards, challah covers, menorahs, seder plates, and the like. Don’t join the fray. Be original. Now, I admit, it would be quite unfortunate if everyone followed my advice and the couple ended up with none of these hallowed Judaica fixtures.

Compete with close relatives

The couple’s parents or other close relatives may purchase them silver Shabbat candlesticks or a Kiddush cup, or the bride and groom may have had these items passed down in their family over time. Don’t even think for a second that you can compete with bubbe and zaidy!

Duplicate the registry

This goes for non-Judaica items, and was a major pet peeve for me when I got married in 2013. “Duplicating” the couple’s registry—for instance, getting dishes or silverware not listed on the registry—ensures three infuriating outcomes:

1) You’re getting the couple something they don’t need, because someone more compliant than you will (wisely) buy the dishes requested on the registry.

2) The couple won’t be able to exchange your redundant gift for something they do need because it came from a store unbeknownst to them.

3) Your gift will enter the notorious “re-gift closet.” This creates a vicious cycle. By re-gifting your gift, the couple repeats your error of gifting an unregistered standard household item. The gift proceeds to be re-gifted for perpetuity.

Here’s a dirty little secret: For couples, the point of making a registry is not just to get all the household items they need, but also to create the potential to exchange a string of registry items for more expensive items that you wouldn’t have the gall to put on the registry… like a couch. Why should your unwanted gift that cannot be returned spoil the couple’s efforts to implement this wonderful strategy?

Honestly, these are all just pointers. Any gift is deeply appreciated, and it’s the thought that counts. At the end of the day, it isn’t the presents, but your presence—at the wedding, if you can be there, or through your continued friendship—that matters.

—With reporting by my wife

1 Comment

  • Great ideas for wedding gift giving! While in Israel, we “traditionally” give money for wedding gifts. These ideas and guidelines are great for engagement gifts as well. Thanks! Yochi

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    JNS.org – Less than five months after leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to its sixth European basketball title, David Blatt, now the head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, routed his former team in an exhibition game on Sunday, with the Cavaliers dominating Maccabi 107-80 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The 20,562 fans in attendance witnessed Lebron James’s first appearance in a Cavaliers uniform since he left the club in free agency for the Miami Heat four years ago. [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz said on Wednesday that he will not eat anything between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday in observation of Yom Kippur, ESPN reported. “If I was playing, I wouldn’t fast, because I’ve got to be able to fuel myself to play,” said the Jewish athlete, who is on short-term leave due to a toe injury. “But it’s not that tough, really. I’ll eat dinner at 5:00 Friday, then I’ll go to services and I’ll just [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.