Shared b’nai mitzvahs require creativity, compromise

Twins Caryle and Max Goldenberg at Congregation Shaare Emeth for their shared b’nai mitzvah. Photo: Lisa Mandel

BY ELLIE GROSSMAN, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

Planning a bar or bat mitzvah can be stressful, so imagine what it’s like to coordinate a double (or triple!) simcha where more than one tween shares not only a Torah portion but the limelight as well. Actually, when it comes to hosting a special b’nai mitzvah for twins, triplets, or relatives close in age, the same rules apply.

Be organized. (Consider hiring a party planner.)

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Stick with a budget.

Encourage them to find an ongoing mitzvah project. (Community service is essential on a college application.)

Compromise (or flip a coin).

Keep it age-appropriate. (Save the extravagance for the wedding.)

Start planning at least one year in advance (or you’ll never get the DJ you want).

Most importantly, don’t sweat the small stuff. (As long as there’s strudel, everything will be OK.)

The biggest challenge — besides getting busy middle schoolers to practice their Hebrew — is figuring out creative ways to merge their unique personalities into a one-of-a-kind sacred celebration. These St. Louis families know what it takes to make a b’nai mitzvah memorable.

aige and Megan Wallis, first cousins born six weeks apart, incorporated their initials “PM” for a night-time pajama party at Meadowbrook Country Club following their joint service at United Hebrew Congregation.

“Our theme was a riff on their names so it was easy to give equal billing,” said Amy Wallis, Megan’s mom.

Everyone was involved in the planning process, too.

“We made sure each person was heard, and we had four women’s needs to take into consideration. Our kids were fairly easy going and trusted us. We came up with the ideas, and didn’t bring them in until we had a clear vision of where we were going with things. I think things take longer when two families are involved, so you have to plan accordingly,” she added.

It also helps when the tweens are BFFs.

“It’s like being able to share the biggest day in your teenage years with someone who’s like your best friend,” said Megan, adding that they both wore matching hot pink tank tops at the party.

nother dynamic duo who took advantage of their first names are twins Megan and Madison Prost. They became b’nai mitzvah recently at Congregation B’nai Amoona. Their colorful theme was M&M candies, of course, and “we had a ton of them,” said their mom, Barb Prost.

“The party favors were cinch sacks with the M&M logo, and we decorated the tables with different colored napkins,” she continued. “I took the girls to all of the meetings with the party planner, and they picked out pink and purple invitations with a light green envelope. They also wrote their own invitation lists and speeches, and we had a slide show with their own section.”

For these sisters, being together mattered most. “I liked having my bat mitzvah with Madi because she’s my best friend, and I felt like I wasn’t alone. She supported me and helped me through it like I did for her,” said Megan.

hen boy and girl twins share a b’nai mitzvah, such as Max and Caryle Goldenberg, things can get a little trickier.

“I tried to include both of them throughout the process from the beginning, but some things were better left as surprises. They had opposite opinions about almost everything, and wanted favorite colors that clashed,” said Kim Goldenberg, who decorated the kiddush luncheon at Congregation Shaare Emeth with poster-size photos of her children displayed everywhere in the room.

“One wanted a dressy party, and the other casual,” she explained. “The one thing they agreed on was they wanted the evening party to be a ‘kids party.’ They both chose all their favorite foods (one is a vegetarian, and one loves nothing more than bacon).”

The Goldenbergs worked together on their community service project, which was the main component throughout their b’nai mitzvah.  

“The whole kiddush was based on Camp Rainbow (a camp for children with cancer) and the centerpieces were baskets filled with embossed towels that will be distributed this year to all the campers and counselors as a take home memento at the end of the session,” said Kim Goldenberg.

The outdoorsy theme “Camp Double Trouble” continued into the evening at the St. Louis Science Center Planetarium. It featured fall colors and a light show using the constellation from their birth date on November 19, 1998.

“The attire was ‘camp cocktail’ and included a s’mores bar for dessert, flashlight place cards, canteen party favors, and candy rocks on the tables because the kids love to rock climb at camp,” Kim Goldenberg noted.

or triplets Hannah, Naomi, and Zachary Frankel, the klei kodesh at B’nai Amoona in January was “choreographed so each of them shined,” said their proud mom, Kari Kramer.

Their invitations were neutral — silver and white — but they each picked out the color of their own thank you cards. Even though this threesome had to compromise a lot, they all had a hand in planning the “Under The Sea” hotel dance party, which featured a vegetarian menu and mashed potato bar.

“When there was any agreement, we ran with that and there was no changing minds. We allowed each of our children to focus on something that was important to them, such as the menu, the colors, and the DJ,” Kramer added. “They each had their own chairs at the kids’ tables that were decorated specifically for them.  They also were introduced individually with their own song.”