What did you get for your bar mitzvah?

I was bar mitzvahd many years ago, but I still remember some of the gifts given to me. Since I come from a relatively poor family I used to gasp in horror when I realized that it was perfectly normal for someone to get a $500 check from their grandparents or parents business partners. The most I got from any single person was $100 and I think my dad used the money to pay the caterer, redneck indeed.

I remember getting a lot of books I would never use, Hebrew books with fancy covers, things like full sets of mishna bruras and mekraos gedolos, I always wondered why on earth someone would give their 13 year old modern orthodox nephew a set of Hebrew books he couldn’t use. I always wished they had ebay back then, or I knew how to return books to a seforim store.

I wonder if kids return seforim? Do they mosy on into Eichlers and ask for retail on this set of books with their sticker on the back? That would most likely bankrupt any seforim store, I think they rely on cousins buying cousins bar mitzvah presents, why didn’t my frummy cousins ever give money as gifts.

I go a bunch of watches, a few parker pens – they were cool back in the day and one hand held television which is the only present I really used. I used it with headphones under my covers at yeshiva and it felt really cool, even though there was never anything on.

But beyond all of my memory stand one memory and it holds true for almost everyone I know. Great Jews in Sports was that one gift that I received multiple copies from people too cheap to give me cash yet too stupid to figure out that every other secular Jewish person would buy the same gift.

This was in the days before kitschy gifts like hipster Jewish shirts that said What would the Rebbe do? Or Boro Park is for lovers. This was way before matzo ball soap and Adam Sandler, so what else was there besides for Great Jews in Sports?

I remember receiving at least 4 copies of this book which was made into gifts for 3 other bar mitzvahs. My brother also received a ton of these books, its funny because every time I see the book in anyone’s house I always comment that their cousin with the bright orange yarmulke named Harvey must have given it to them.

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