Local shops offer plenty of great ideas for bar or bat mitzvah gifts


Friends and relatives have a wide variety of items to choose from ranging from the traditional to the non-traditional when it comes to bar and bat mitzvah gifts.

Sandy’s Judaica Shop at Shaare Emeth carries most of the traditional b’nai mitzvah gifts. Manager Karin Krakover said Sandy’s carries traditional gifts including Lucite Torah scroll stands, Gary Rosenthal statues, bronze bar and bat mitzvah statues and Kiddush cups.


Sandy’s also carries scene candlesticks for girls and shofars for boys. There are also menorahs and tallitot available.

“A big thing that grandparents will do if they don’t have a tallit to hand down, they’ll come in with the parents and child and pick one out,” Krakover said. “They’ll make it a family thing.”

Sandy’s also has jewelry including Star of David and Chai designs and mezuzahs.

If jewelry is the thing, then David Kodner Personal Jewelers, located on the third floor of the Carondelet Building in Clayton, is the place to go. Aside from Stars of David and Chais, Owner David Kodner said cuff links and signet rings are often good traditional gifts. “Typically we sell a lot of jewelry that people will wear for the rest of their lives,” Kodner said.

“That is why signet rings are a good gift, because guys will wear them at 13 and at 35. For girls, we have things like a pearl necklace. That is something she can wear at her wedding. It is something that means a lot to them and they will keep it for the rest of their lives.”

The Needlepoint Clubhouse, at 717 New Ballas Road, is the place to go to personalize that traditional gift. Vice-President Linda Bryant said they help customers put together personal gifts. The business offers custom embroidery on items such as yarmulkes and tallit bags.

“We have the first and only Judaic catalogue for gifts in St. Louis,” Bryant said. “In addition to the samples we have in the shop, we put together a catalogue for our customers so they can see what each of our suppliers has in Judaic designs. Instead of having to go through 40 catalogues, they only have to go through one design specifically for them.”

For customers that prefer to do their own stitching, Needlepoint has all the materials and will provide stitch guides to make the process easier. Needlepoint also offers classes to teach customers how to needlepoint. Gifts usually take two to six weeks to complete and range from $100 to $350.

Evelyn Shanker’s Judaic Gift Shop at Shaare Zedek has a wide variety of traditional gifts. Buyer Ann Frank said Shanker’s has mezuzahs, yarmulkes, candlesticks, washing cups and wine cups.

Shanker’s also has a strong selection of jewelry including Stars of David. And if Shanker’s doesn’t have what the customer is looking for they can order it for them.

“We can get it as fast as they can get it online,” Frank said. She said that it is important for consumers to take the time to go to synagogue gift shops like Shanker’s instead of simply ordering a gift online.

“Gift shops are run all by volunteers, no one is paid, ” Frank said. “All the money spent in the gift shop goes back into the synagogues. If you buy online, it doesn’t. “

Savings bonds are another traditional gift. Maureen Nelson, senior vice-president in retail administration at Frontenac Bank, said savings bonds make a great bar and bat mitzvah gift.

“The main benefit is that they are tax deferred, ” Nelson said. “All of the interest earned over the 30 years, if they keep it for the whole 30 years, they don’t claim. Then they can either cash it out or roll it over into a Double H bond and they will start receiving dividends. “

There are several different types of savings bonds, but Nelson said the most common for bar and bat mitzvah gifts are the Double E bonds. They start at a face value of $100 and go up in $50 increments, but customers pay just half of the face value.

Israel Bonds also make a great bar and bat mitzvah gift. Israel bonds work similarly to U.S. Savings Bonds, only they are secured by the government of Israel.

“We’ve been in business since 1951, ” said Stuart Gold, executive director of the Midwest Region for State of Israel Bonds. “We’ve sold close to $30 billion in securities and we’ve never missed an interest payment or a bond redemption payment. “

Gold said State of Israel Bonds has two missions. The first is to raise money for Israel and the second is to connect Diaspora Jews with the State of Israel.

Gold said they have a variety of bonds that range anywhere from one to ten years, but the most popular for bar and bat mitzvahs are the Mazel Tov Bonds that begin at $100 face value and increase in $50 increments up to $2,500.

“These bonds are usually for five or ten years, ” Gold said. “The advantage is that Israel gets the loan for five or ten years, but the advantage to the recipient is that it connects the young person to Israel at a very important time in their life. “

It usually takes three to six weeks to receive the bond, but Gold said they cater to procrastinators. He said State of Israel will send a gift card to either the gift giver or the recipient, letting them know that the bond is on the way. Call 312-558-9406 for more information.

Non-traditional bar and bat mitzvah gifts have also become popular. If you are looking for something out of the ordinary, then Neija Bend is the place to go.

Neija Bend President Lois Klayman said the store prides itself in having one of a kind items. Her daughters, Laurie and Jennifer Klayman, are the store’s buyers and stock the store with unique jewelry and accessories.

Nieja Bend features Israeli designers such as Ayala Bar, Avi Soffer, Israel Ben-haroush and Gil Dagmi of Ithil Metal Works. There are also sculptures from Josef Ohayon, also known as JOJO.

For the baseball fan, Neija Bend has ball point pens made from seats from the Old Busch Stadium and Sportsman’s Park. They also have sterling silver cuff links from the Old Busch Stadium as well.

For the computer guy, they have cuff links made from mother boards.

Klayman said one of the most popular gifts for boys is a Stewart/Stand woven stainless steel wallet.

“They’re awesome, ” Klayman said. “That’s the type of thing that will never wear out. “

Klayman said most of the girls’ gifts they carry are the traditional jewelry items, but Neija Bend also carries woven stainless steel handbags from Bo’s Art Studio. Neija Bend recently moved from the U-City Loop to the Ladue Marketplace.

“We carry a lot of things nobody else in St. Louis carries and we try to have stuff in every price range. “