What’s it like to be a twin?

YALDAH readers answer your questions about twins! 

(Originally published in 2006)

We interviewed six pairs of twins:  

Skyler and Mallory Dixon are fraternal eight- year-old twins. They live in Pennsylvania.

Eden and Bina G. are identical twins. They are thirteen years old and live in New Jersey.

Leigh and Noi Herscovich are thirteen years old. They are fraternal twins. They live in California.

Rebekah & Jennifer Kahn are identical twins adopted from China. They are 9 years old. They live on a farm in Connecticut.

Helene and Marcella Leonard are identical twins from Arizona. They are nine years old.

Donyel Meese, age thirteen, lives in Ohio with her twin brother, Nathan. They are fraternal twins.

What is most fun about being a twin?

Noi: You always have a friend no matter what.

Leigh: You always have someone to talk to. Eden: I never feel shy when I go somewhere new, because Bina is with me. People easily start up conversations with us by asking, “Hey, are you guys twins?”

Helene: It’s fun to trick people!

Bina: Switching places. It’ so funny to see the puzzled reaction on someone’s face when we tell them that we switched places. One really funny time was when we switched places for a Purim shtick in fourth grade. Eden’s class was going over Math, but my class was a bit ahead, so I knew the material. When Eden’s teacher asked a question, I knew the answer, so I raised my hand quietly. Then Eden’s teacher said “ Eden, you’re raising your hand so nicely today!” What I didn’t know was that when Eden raises her hand she waves it around and makes noises to catch the attention of the teacher, so I just raised my hand normally. The whole class burst out laughing, but I had no idea what was going on, and neither did the teacher!

What is hardest about being twins?

Noi: You don’t always have your own space.

Donyel: Sharing the same birthday. One of us wants a chocolate sports cake, and the other wants a plain, vanilla cake (I usually give in). Eden: When people don’t treat us fairly. Like when teachers compare us to each other and think we act the same, talk the same, and get the same grades. We are not the same person, and it is only fair if we are treated like others.

Leigh: Jealousy of one another. I know that I get jealous of Noi when she does something better, or when people pay more attention to her.

Marcella: When we have fights.

Bina:Everyone expects us to be best friends because we’re twins. We do fight sometimes, just like all sisters and brothers do. It is weird when people start staring at us when we have an argument.

Skyler: It’s hard when we have a friend over and that friend wants to play more with Mallory and I feel left out. It’s hard to share friends.

Mallory: If she can do something that I can’t do, and I want to do it too. Like when she rode a two wheeler and I couldn’t.

Rebekah: When people confuse me with my sister.

Jennifer: When my sister keeps secrets from me.

What assumptions do people make about twins?

Donyel: People usually assume that twins either argue or agree about everything. My brother and I are good friends. We comfort each other and cheer the other up when in a gloomy mood. Sometimes we argue (usually over who’s turn it is to get on the computer), but we always solve the problem and ‘make up’.

Rebekah: ‘You always eat the same things’ or ‘you always dress the same’.

Leigh: People assume that we are exactly alike. Just because we share the same interests, people get the idea that we have the same personalities.

Helene: That we do everything the same way. Skyler: People think that all twins look alike, and don’t believe us when we tell them we are twins.

Is your relationship with your twin different than with your other siblings?

Leigh: My relationship with Noi is like a different planet compared to my relationship with my brother. He’s younger, and he’s into his own little fourth-grader world, so I can’t really say we have the same interests. I can’t talk to him like I talk to Noi, but I still love him.

Marcella: I can tell Helene anything, it’s not like that with my other siblings.

Bina: Yes, because I know and understand Eden better than my other siblings, and I know what she’s talking about and what she means when she says stuff that other people don’t.

Was there ever a time that being a twin came in handy?

Leigh: Yes there was actually! We used to switch places in class, because our teacher couldn’t tell us apart, and I used to get away with not having to do class work because I was in the back of the classroom instead of Noi!

Bina: If I ever leave my notes at school before a test, I can study from Eden’s.

Mallory: Skyler is there to help me. She helps me with stuff on the computer, she helps me make my bed, and if I hurt myself she can get a grown up to help me.

Eden: Definitely, these situations come up all the time. Like one time I remember I was rid- ing this kiddie bike, and then one of my neighbors saw me, and I was so embarrassed. Then I remembered that they would never remember whether it was Bina or me!

Rebekah: Yes, when we help each other. I taught Jenny how to read and write Hebrew and to blow the shofar very loud.

How do you celebrate your birthdays?

Donyel: We celebrate our birthday on the same day with one (or occasionally two) cakes. Sometimes we don’t even have a party we just travel to some interesting place (this year it was Israel).

Leigh: We always have our birthday together, with all the people we know in the community. I don’t ever remember being apart on our birth- days.

Jennifer: We celebrate our birthdays in Florida.

Helene: We have one birthday party at our house with friends and family.

Mallory: We decide together and agree what we both want to do together.

Do you have different friends than your twin?

Leigh: We only have two other girls in our class, so not really. I have a couple friends that Noi doesn’t really know or hang out with, but mostly we have the same friends.

Marcella: Yes, I have some other friends but not as close as my twin.

Bina: Because we are mostly in different classes, we hang out with different people, but overall Eden’s friends are also my friends.

Jennifer: I have different friends in my ballet class, but most of our friends are the same. We also have other friends who are twins.

Do you have different interests/personality than your twin?

Noi: Leigh and I have totally different personalities but we share a lot of the same interests.

Leigh: Noi and I are complete opposites! I’m really outgoing and wild, and Noi is shy. Noi is more of an artist and a sports player, I’m the shop-till-you-drop, drama queen kind of person.

Eden: Absolutely, I like sports and Bina likes musical instruments. However, we have almost the same taste in clothes.

Marcella: I do have different interests and personality but we are very similar.

Skyler: Yes. I like puppy dogs, reading chap- ter books, and riding my bike. I like my room neat and Mallory doesn’t.

Donyel: We have very different personalities. My brother makes friends really quickly and loves to talk (he just won’t stop). I tend to be more shy and quiet.

Mallory: Yes, I like to read, and jump rope and she doesn’t always like that. Everyone says we are really different.

Do people treat you like a pair? Do you like that?

Leigh: Sometimes they do. People at school used to call us ‘the twins’ because they could- n’t remember our names, and sometimes it bothers me. Even though we’re twins, I like to be seen as my own person.

Mallory: Not really at all. I like being separate most of the time.

Skyler: Sometimes. Sometimes I like it and sometimes I don’t.

Rebekah: Yes. I like that.

Do people mix you and your twin up?

Eden: All the time! Even once in a while my mother, when she is not focusing on who is who, doesn’t even realize. One time my mother asked me to get her a cup of water. That day, I was wearing the same shirt as Bina, and then Bina came and gave my mother a cup of water. She didn’t even realize until we told her!

Noi: Yes, even though we don’t look at all alike.

Rebekah: Yes. Sometimes people guess right and sometimes wrong.

Marcella: Yes, because we are identical.

Mallory: Not usually. Because they know that one of us has blonde hair and the other has dark hair.

Can you tell what your twin is thinking?

Donyel: Sometimes the same thought enters our heads, and my brother will turn to me and say, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”. Sometimes we are sharing a thought, and sometimes are thoughts couldn’t be farther apart.

Noi: Sometimes. Like we can be thinking of the same song and sing it right after another. Leigh: Most of the time I can. Either she has the obvious thinkers face on, or I just KNOW…I guess you could say it’s a twin thing!

Eden: Occasionally, because I know her better than anyone else, so I know when she is upset or happy about something.

Do you like to wear matching clothes?

Noi: Not really. If we do, it’s either for the fun of it or to see if people can tell us apart!

Leigh: If it would confuse people then I’d do it any day! But we don’t always have the same taste in clothing. We do share clothes, but we don’t have too many matching outfits.

Marcella: We have a uniform at school, so that’s matching.

Helene: Not unless it’s a special occasion.

Skyler: We did when we were babies, but only sometimes now. I would like to more, but Mallory doesn’t.

Mallory: NOOO! We have different taste in clothes.

Bina: I really don’t mind dressing alike, but sometimes my friends get mad at me if I do it, because then they have to keep asking me who I really am. Also, sometimes I don’t like what Eden is wearing, so then I wouldn’t want to dress alike.

Twins in the Torah!

The first twins we hear about in the Torah are Yaakov and Esav. They are not similar at all! Before they are born, Hashem (G-d) tells their mother, Rivka, “Two nations are in your womb, and two kingdoms will separate from within you, and one kingdom will become mightier than the other kingdom, and the elder will serve the younger.” From the minute they are born, Yaakov and Esav are very different. Esav is born before Yaakov. We know right away that they are not identical: Esav has reddish skin and lots of hair and Yaakov has fair skin. Their behavior is also very different. Esav loves hunting while Yaakov pre- fers to study Torah. The conflict continued between Yaakov and Esav, until Yaakov has to run away from home to escape from Esav.

Are you a twin? Comment and tell us what you think!