Save money with a double bar mitzvah

Double your fun

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Want to double your fun? Why not plan a double bar mitzvah?

And I’m not talking about the fact that some temples — depending on their size or how many kids they have to accommodate throughout the year — routinely require families to double (or even triple) up on a given date. After all, there are only 52 weeks in the year, and many synagogues have to schedule a lot more kids than that.

I’m talking about voluntarily planning a double bar mitzvah for your own children. This is most commonly an option when you have twins or siblings who are very close in age. Because there’s not a hard and fast, absolute prescribed time to schedule a bar mitzvah service, you might have more flexibility than you think.

For instance, your temple might let you pair up a brother who’s almost 14 with a sister who’s 12. (And they would likely be the same height at those ages too!)

Yet, before you jump on the gun, here are some advantages and disadvantages of going the dual route:

They ‘half’ less to do

If you have two siblings sharing a service, it’s likely that each one will have to learn and sing half of what one child would normally prepare. It makes you wonder why there’s not a stampede of brothers and sisters descending on every temple across the country right now. But parents might be skeptical if they think their kids are being let off the hook.

This is a win-win for kids and their Jewish education. Yes, they do “get away with” doing a little bit less. But the sheer quantity of words that a student recites is much less important to me than the skills involved. Half or full, doubled up or solo, each bar mitzvah student will still likely have to learn how to chant a Torah reading and/or haftarah as well as many of the prayers of that service.

Lean on me

There is no such thing as a typical sibling relationship. Some brothers and sisters, especially if they’re very close in age, get along fabulously, while others are constantly ready to tear each other apart (but hopefully in a loving way). Still, nothing engenders a feeling of closeness than a shared burden and set of responsibilities. The experience becomes an opportunity for your kids to work together and bond when they have to face the pressure and challenge of becoming b’nei mitzvah at the same time. It’s helpful when kids see they are not the only one having trouble learning something, and often one sibling can help the other with a more difficult skill.

You’re so money

I saved this one for last, even though it was probably the first thing that occurred to you. Of course, there is a huge financial benefit to planning one combined event rather than a couple of celebrations just a year or so apart. You will save big-time bucks by doubling up even if there is a bigger guest list to accommodate separate groups of friends for each kid. And when you take away just a little bit of the sticker shock, you can easily concentrate on what should really be the most important part of the day — watching your kids cross the threshold into Jewish adulthood.

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