Tzedakah in their Honor
Websites like NetworkforGood and Tzedaka.org can give you ideas of where to make a donation in honor of the wedding. In choosing a worthy cause, consider the coupleâ€™s interests and passions. NetworkforGood also offers the option of purchasing a “Good Card” which allows the recipients to choose where the money will be donated.
Help your newlyweds get involved in Jewish life by purchasing a membership for them to a local Jewish museum or Jewish Community Center. If you know they plan to join a synagogue, consider contributing to their membership.
A night out on the town is always a welcome gift. Consider purchasing gift tickets to a Jewish concert, theater or dance performance, cooking lesson, Jewish film festival, or other cultural experience.
Movies & Music
The bride and groom might appreciate a collection of great Jewish music or some quintessential Jewish films to help them relax after their big day. You can read about some good choices in this overview of American Jewish music or this article about contemporary Israeli films.
If you choose books wisely, your wedding gift could help a newly-married couple build a Jewish library. For ideas, check out this review of the greatest American Jewish fiction,Â and this list of the top 100 Jewish books–from Exodus (the second book of the Bible) to Exodus (the novel by Leon Uris). You could also give the couple a Jewish wedding planning book, like The Complete Jewish Wedding Planner or The Everything Jewish Wedding Book, in the months before their wedding, or a Jewish wedding art book, like Ketubbah.
Invest in the happy couple’s wine collection with some nice kosher wine or a membership to a kosher wine-of-the-month club.Â They can use it for Shabbat or with any elegant meal.Â Books like Maurie Rosenberg’s L’chaim: User Guide to Kosher Wine 1.0 can help you choose.
Gift certificates to local kosher restaurants make a great gift. You could also consider having dinners delivered to the newlyweds in the weeks after the wedding, preferably food that can be frozen if they do not finish it.
Traditional (and not-so-Traditional) Judaica
If you’re thinking of a more traditional gift, consider some classic Judaica items. The china or silver company the couple registered for might make Judaica objects (Nambe, Spode, and Lenox all do).
For the Home
A mezuzah is the quintessential symbol of the Jewish home. Check out MezuzahStore.comÂ for some interesting cases, and donâ€™t forget the parchment scroll for inside the case. Similar to a mezuzah, this Jewish prayer is customarily hung near the entrance to the home: “Let no sadness come through this gate. Let no trouble come to this dwelling. Let no fear come through this door. Let no conflict be in this place. Let this home be filled with the blessing of joy and peace.” Artistic renditions of this prayer for the home are available at Canaan-Online and Levine Judaica.
Other practical gifts for Jewish homes include tzedakah boxes–the gift that keeps on giving; kosher cookbooks–available to suit any palate; and ring holders–helpful for netilat yadayim, Jewish ritual hand-washing, when one normally removes rings.
Contemporary artists have come up with many creative ways to turn the broken glass from the end of the wedding ceremony into kiddush cups, candle sticks, vases, picture frames, etc. You can ask the couple to save the glass for you, and then present them with this unique and decorative gift that will always remind them of their wedding.
Shabbat and Holiday Gifts
Shabbat is a special time in the Jewish household, especially for newlyweds.Â Help your happy couple create a beautiful Shabbat together by giving them traditional ritual objects: candlesticks, a decorative matchbox, a decorative challah board, challah knife, or challah cover, a hand-washing cup, or a havdalah set. You can also buy marriage-themed Shabbat accessories– bride and groom candlesticks or a kiddush cup designed with huppah, bride, and groom imagery.
Many newly-married couples dip their challah in honey instead of salt on Shabbat in order to usher in a sweet life together. You can choose from many types of honey holders, from traditional to more contemporary; for a gift that fits your couple’s style.
Check the Jewish calendarÂ to see if there are any Jewish holidays around the time of the wedding you are attending. Consider purchasing a gift for the bride and groom that will help them celebrate that holiday: A plate for apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah, a menorah or dreidel for Hanukkah, or for Passover, a seder plate, matzah cover, or Miriam’s cup.
You can also consider items that are unrelated to the holiday immediately coming up (you donâ€™t want to be the fifth seder plate), or more rare objects like an omer counter, an etrogÂ holder, a decorative gragger, or megillah .
Pronounced: KHAH-luh, Origin: Hebrew, ceremonial bread eaten on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.
Pronounced: DRAY-dul, Origin: Yiddish, a spinning top, with four sides, each marked with a different Hebrew letter (nun, gimel, hay and shin), it is played with on Hanukkah.
Pronounced: KOH-sher, Origin: Hebrew, adhering to kashrut, the traditional Jewish dietary laws.
Pronounced: muh-NOHR-uh, Origin: Hebrew, a lamp or candelabra, often used to refer to the Hanukkah menorah, or Hanukkiah.
Pronounced: muh-ZOO-zuh (oo as in book), Origin: Hebrew, a small box placed on the right doorpost of Jewish homes. It contains a parchment scroll with verses from the Torah inscribed on it, including the Shema prayer (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21).
Pronounced: SAY-der, Origin: Hebrew, literally “order”; usually used to describe the ceremonial meal and telling of the Passover story on the first two nights of Passover. (In Israel, Jews have a seder only on the first night of Passover.)
Pronounced: shuh-BAHT or shah-BAHT, Origin: Hebrew, the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.