A business associate has invited me to his son's bar mitzvah. I'm unfamiliar with the bar mitzvah tradition and wonder what is the most appropriate gift. Any suggestions?
Perhaps it will help if you think of this as an extra special birthday celebration-with religious significance. To that end, anything that you would normally give a teenager on his birthday would be appropriate: music, clothing, computer software, DVDs, etc. Money is also a traditional gift, as well as Bar Mitzvah-specific items that commemorate the day. Gift certificates are also a perfect solution as the Bar Mitzvah will be able to select exactly what he wants!
Should my Bat/Bar Mitzvah gift have a religious theme?
Since this is a religious coming-of-age ceremony it would certainly be appropriate, but it is not mandatory. Whether or not you choose a gift that commemorates the ceremony depends on the individual Bat or Bar Mitzvah.
Should I bring my gift to the Bat/Bar Mitzvah?
Bring it to the party, not the religious ceremony. If the service and party are held on Shabbat-Friday evening or before sundown on Saturday-it might be best to send the gift on another day. Carrying a gift (or any item) is forbidden on Shabbat for traditional Jewish households.