Every year in May and June graduates from middle school, high school, college, and various graduate programs don their caps and gowns and march to accept their diplomas . Later, they gather in restaurants and backyards for graduation parties, where they expect to be plied with gifts that will aid them on their journey toward further accomplishments and success. But what to get those Jewish grads? Here are some gift ideas for all kinds of graduates and all kinds of budgets. Skip the fountain pen and the briefcase–we’ve got you covered Whether you’re looking for gifts for graduates heading off to college or gifts for all kinds of grads
For Graduates Heading off to College
Aside from being funny and comfy, Logo T-Shirts are practically a required uniform on many college campuses, so you can be sure your gift will be in heavy rotation. Check out the fun Jewish-themed offerings at Rotem Gear (Burekas, Not Bagels $29), and Ella Klara (Blessed to be a Woman $25, Repairing the World $28).
Shabbat Away From Home Kit
Celebrating Shabbat away from home requires a few ritual items. Ensure your graduate has an opportunity to light candles and say Kiddush on Friday night with a kit that includes travel candlesticks, candles, a Kiddush cup, a plastic bottle for wine, and a laminated prayer card. (Shabbat to Go, $31.95) There’s a no-frills version that also includes a havdalah candle and a spice sack (Mini-Shabbos Kit, $7) and a fancier painted wood version if you want to spend a little more. (Zion Judaica, $82)
Hebrew-English Word Processor
If your graduate is moving on to another school, consider investing in Hebrew word processing software for their computer. A vital tool for those who study and write about Judaism or the Hebrew Bible, it’s a practical gift with a Jewish theme. Just make sure to find out if your user has a Mac or a PC. (Davkawriter Platinum 6, $159)
Mezuzah for a Dorm Room
Moving to a new place means new doorways, and new doorways need mezuzot. Mezuzot come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges, but the handmade varieties on etsy.com are particularly beautiful.
A Jewish Bicycle?
Parking is no fun on college campuses, and many students are big fans of the exercise and zero carbon emissions that a bicycle offers. A perfect way to cart textbooks or just get from point A to point B, a bike can also be a Jewish statement if you add gear from Hazon‘s JBike program. (Bike prices vary widely. People of the Bike jersey, $60)
Jewish Travel Mug
Chances are, your college student will be bringing a clandestine cup of coffee to morning classes, so a travel mug is a useful accessory. It can be easily jewified with fun slogans and pictures. Try Cafepress. (Shmutz Happens $22, Class of 5769 $22)
The Big Lebowski DVD
This cult classic is especially popular among college students, so it’s a good thing for a freshman to have on hand. With classic lines like, “I don’t roll on Shabbos,” and, “Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax… ” it’s a hit with Sabbath observers and non-observers alike. Just be warned, it does contain nudity, and is rated R. (Big Lebowski 10th Anniversary Edition, $9.99)
Duffel bags packed to the gills with clothes are an essential part of moving into college dorms. Stuffing them with dirty laundry before returning home for the holidays is another time-honored tradition. The Israel Army Surplus Store has a number of very sturdy options which you can spruce up with an Israeli flag patch. (Giant Paratrooper Carry All $142, Israeli flag patch $2.99)
Gifts for All Kinds of Grads
Personalized Hebrew Jewelry
Handmade silver jewelry by SimaP or Baruch Hadaya is subtle, modern, and can be made personal with whatever name or Hebrew text you choose. (From $25)
This is Babylon by Y-Love
A Jewish hip-hop album by Y-Love makes a funky gift. Get it, with the new single The Change, for only $18 plus shipping, or gift them on iTunes.
Large Israeli Flag
A strong simple décor statement, perfect for a dorm room bulletin board, or the window of a new apartment. (Political Gifts, $30 for 3’x5′ flag)
People of the Book
Sometimes, only a book will do. Here are five good options.
JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh: Pocket Edition
A basic essential reference book. Don’t let grads leave home without one.
The Dream of Scipio by Iain Pears (2003)
A historical murder mystery with a surprising Jewish twist.
My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for his Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq by Ariel Sabar (2008)
What happens when a through-and-through Californian decides to look back at his Jewish Iraqi heritage.
Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out an Empire in the New World in Their Quest for Treasure, Religious Freedom–and Revenge by Edward Kritzler (2008)
The title speaks for itself.
How This Night is Different by Elisa Albert (2008)
Short stories that are bitingly sarcastic and funny, about Jews who feel out of sync with their heritage and/or life.
Pronounced: KID-ush, Origin: Hebrew, literally holiness, the blessing said over wine or grape juice to sanctify Shabbat and holiday.
Pronounced: shuh-BAHT or shah-BAHT, Origin: Hebrew, the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.