By Lori S. Robinson
Twins and multiples live with their own special connection at all times, so why should their Bar or Bat Mitzvahs be any different? If you have multiples or even close-in-age siblings, having them join together to do a B’nai Mitzvah instead of two separate services and affairs can be a great idea. Not only will it save you money by having a single event, but it certainly cuts down on the time and effort involved in the planning. Perhaps it will also encourage far away friends and relatives who may not have been able to make two big trips to come join in on this one special celebration. Having a party for more than one can also work well when two best friends can coordinate their Bar/Bat Mitzvah dates.
But doing it this way does take some special considerations. How, for example, do parents celebrate each child, allowing them to shine individually, showcasing each ones’ talents and passions so they feel honored for their own accomplishments, and also avoid any one child from overshadowing the other(s)? In some cases, multiples see themselves as a terrific partnership; while others put extra effort into establishing their own identities. Parents need to take all this into account when planning such a B’nai Mitzvah.
Ask the kids themselves how they envision their party. Their feedback and ideas are key to making everyone happy. Do they want to be announced separately when they enter the party? Do they want two themes; two cakes? Or would they rather share the event in every way (keeping in mind that not every adolescent wants to steal the limelight).
There are many reasons close-in-age siblings might share a party too, i.e., as a courtesy to far-away relatives; to accommodate a shy child, or one who came to Judaic studies late in the game. Some kids may have had their Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremonies during a trip to Israel or at a Jewish sleep-away but have not had a party attended by extended family and friends from home. Like multiples, these siblings need to work together to balance their expectations.
Best friends may be the most excited teens to share a party. Again, they’d have to share ideas and be extra cooperative (as will their party-planning parents). But most important of all is for their families to clearly agree on how they will handle all the details—money, guest lists, organizational tasks, etc. — ahead of time.
So, how do you make a Bar/Bat Mitzvah party special when you are celebrating more than one child? We asked some real B’nai Mitzvah families to share their experiences:
Twins and Multiples
Emma and Jakey Mohamed, Edgemont, NY, March 2013
Photo credit: Todd Shapera
Emma and Jakey Mohamed, of Edgemont, NY, were never known as “the twins.” As early as preschool, their mom, Suzanne Lovett, took great pains to make sure that they were always recognized as separate individuals and that philosophy carried over when planning their B’nai Mitzvah.
“We didn’t want their ‘twinship’ to define the B’nai Mitzvah,” says Lovett, who grappled with how the family might celebrate the kids’ individuality, while honoring the special bond between them. Yet, she said, “ we wanted a cohesive party.”
Where to begin? Emma loved horseback riding and Jakey was into baseball, so they asked photographer Todd Shapera to join them at a horse farm to take photos of the teens doing their favorite activities, separately.
“When I first met the kids, they didn’t think they wanted photos together, but at the farm and their home, they loved being close,” says Shapera. The single and double portraits were blown up into posters and banners to decorate the B’nai Mitzvah venue.
Working with Shoreline Embroidery in Mamaroneck, the Mohameds created a customized logo for their party — a coat of arms with their initials in separate colors, green for Jakey and purple for Emma, to represent the two of them together. The logo included crossed swords, an inside nod to sibling squabbling, explains Lovett. They used the logo throughout the party space to create a unified theme, on napkins, napkin rings, pillows in the lounge area, t-shirts worn by the DJ, as a gobo and printed on the party favor sweatshirts.
To emphasize the teens’ “separate but equal-ness,” there was an Emma’s candy buffet table with purple candies and a Jakey’s buffet with green. But when it came to cake, there was only one. Sweets by Alissa in Scarsdale created a cake decorated with a jumble of words that had special meaning to both kids, including nicknames, camps, movies, Dr. Who quotes, vacations, etc. It was a sweet day indeed for these twins.
“As much as my kids bicker and argue at home, it was amazing to see how united and considerate they were of each other at the B’nai mitzvah,” says Lovett. “When my husband and I gave them the joint blessing, we noticed that they were firmly holding each other’s hand in excitement. That just may have been the first and last time that ever happens!”
Jen and Will Borowka, Chappaqua, NY, October 2010
Twins Jen and Will Borowka worked together as a team planning their B’nai Mitzvah. “The fact that they had to share it, kept them from being egocentric,” says Mary Borowka of her twins’ B’nai Mitzvah party. “Their ‘keeping balance, showing respect, and willingness to compromise’ muscles got a good work-out.” Her top tip: Hire a party planner willing to mediate any disputes so mom and dad don’t always have to get in the middle.
That’s not to say that Jen and Will weren’t already a successful, working partnership (they’d been doing it for 13 years!). For instance, Jen invited all the girls and Will supplied all the boys for the party. Together, they planned out the perfect co-ed tables.
The only hiccup for Jen, was when her brother stole the spotlight with a lip-synch. Boys!
Explains Borowka: “As I said to my children on the bima about planning their B’nai Mitzvah together, Each of you is very important and your needs and hopes do matter and must be pursued; however neither of you matter at the expense of another. You are a part of a process but not the entire process. This lesson is essential in life. It speaks to the ability to balance drive with empathy, ambition with humility, pursuit of self with concern of others. A life weighted too much on either side of the continuum is a life that is off balance. But a life that takes both sides of the equation into account is the personal journey of someone who will experience satisfaction, pride and happiness. You both have shown yourselves through this process to possess this balance.”
Abby and Samantha Zuckerman, Edgemont, NY, April 2013
Photo credit: Tiffany @ Luciebelle
Identical twins Abby and Sam Zuckerman didn’t want to dress the same or wear their hair the same for their party at Infinity in Pleasantville, NY. After all, they had their own identities.
Still, they were both in dance companies and chose “dance” as their party theme. They had separate sign-ins, each was a dress form wearing a different color tutu (something they’d seen on Mitzvahmarket.com). They both chose long dresses but one twin’s dress bottom was bright blue tulle, and the other’s was white tulle.
They were both beautiful that day. Separately.
Chloe and Spencer Rehfield, NYC, June 2008
The best advice to planning a party for more than one – consider the nature of your kids individually, says Kori Rehfield, mom of twins. “It is too easy to get carried away with Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, especially with twins, where you always have to prove you are not just lumping them together,” she says.
“Since my kids are shy, they did not want a huge traditional party, and neither did we. We had a kids-only event at a comedy club. We had no candle lighting, centerpieces, separate entrances; just a grown-up party where the kids got dressed up and felt the momentum of the occasion. It was a lovely celebration acknowledging coming of age. It was THEIR dream party. We never looked back or wished we had done it any other way.”
The invitations were one area where both kids contributed, says Rehfield. Since there was just one, “they both had to agree. We wanted to incorporate something traditional and reflective of (both) boy/girl, so we picked a brown-backed card with lilac writing, something masculine but feminine at the same time, and both kids approved. Then we stayed with the brown color for tablecloths and had pink flowers and yarmulkes (yes, Spence loved the pink), so again we were setting the feel of masculine and feminine.
Emma, Rachel and Mikey Glozman, Manhattan Beach, CA, January 2012
Photo credit: Karen Ard
The Glozman triplets have always understood that good things come in threes, so they chose to “go with it.” They picked three colors for their color scheme. Dangling above every guest table were photos of the triplets along with a clever table name that played on the theme of three: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly; 3 Point Shot; Triple Play; The Three Musketeers, etc.
Mom Liz Glozman says that her children didn’t ask for anything that would draw attention to them individually. The only thing they asked was that their table be horseshoe-shaped—so that they could all see each other. That table was called G3.
Paulina and Daniel Kreymer, Woodmere, NY, August 2012
Paulina Kreymer, of Woodmere, NY, came into the world just a year and a few weeks after her big brother Daniel was born.
“What a mitzvah!” said the Kreymer’s rabbi, “In twelve years you’ll have one big simcha to celebrate.”
And they did. In 2012, when Daniel was 13 and Paulina was 12 (Bat Mitzvah age in orthodoxy and in the Kreymer’s Russian Jewish tradition), the siblings shared one, great, B’nai Mitzvah party.
“Paulina picked out a cotton candy pink dress,” says their mom Rita, “ so I instantly thought cotton candy could be their theme.” Somehow, they got an indulgent Daniel to wear a tux with a matching cotton candy-colored vest and tie.
The two kids, however, did insist on separate cakes. Daniel’s was a NY Giants football cake and Paulina’s was all about makeup.
Mom’s top tip: “Include everyone from your family in the planning,” and that doesn’t just mean multiple children. “I was pleasantly surprised how useful a word or a silly comment can be from your husband who you think never listens to a word you say!”
Cole Strawn, West Hills, CA, and Alek Solter, Canoga Park, CA, July 2013
Photo credit: Karen Ard
Cole Strawn and Alek Solter have been best friends since the age of three. Their moms, Marnie Strawn and Jennifer Solter, are also best friends. As both boys studied for their Bar Mitzvahs privately with Cantor Judy Fox, someone (no one remembers who) brought up the idea of co-hosting the boys’ parties together.
Marnie and Jennifer thought it was a great idea, especially since the boys had lots of friends in common, so they agreed to send out one joint invitation from both families.
The Strawns and Solters had a combined family service and luncheon with football-themed centerpieces. “Their party was at an indoor trampoline facility that we rented out. We also included Terror Trucks (a haunted mobile attraction) and food and dessert trucks,” says Jennifer.
Was there anything they didn’t agree on? “Not really,” says Jennifer. They split costs down the middle and they’re all still friends.
Hot Trends for B’nai Mitzvah Parties
• Two Sweatshirts In One: Reversible Clothing
Instead of doing two favors when you have twins, why not let each design their own side of a tee or sweatshirt? This way no feelings are hurt. For more info contact: Steffsstuff2@aol.com
• Twins Squared and Triplets Cubed
Consider creating a logo using the kids’ initials, or the first letter of their last name followed by a numerical superscript (like the Glozmans’ G3). Each child picks a favorite color to include, or in the case of mixed gender multiples, a gender-neutral color is chosen.
• Photo Posters as Décor
Let each child shine by covering the room with over-sized photos showing off their individual passions. This is where we learn that Julie likes to ice skate, David is into football and Alan is a magician.
This story is from the 2013 Mitzvah Market Magazine. If you would like to request a free copy of our current magazine, click here.