| Jr. Feature |

Seeing Double

Meet the Gruzman family, who have not one, not two, but a whopping four sets of twins!

“WEfirst moved to Castro Valley to open our Chabad Center ten years ago, just after our first set of twins were born,” says Mrs. Gruzman. Castro Valley is located in Northern California, not far from the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and a six-hour drive from the bustling city of Los Angeles. The Gruzmans settled there on the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s shlichus to bring Yidden closer to Yiddishkeit, and their community is a mix of Yidden of all stripes and kinds.

The addition of their fourth set of twins definitely made their family the talk of the community. Even the local newspapers caught wind of their exciting news! Before they were born, their friends were all betting on whether it would be a single baby, another set of twins, or maybe even triplets!

Twins have been the catalyst for lots of laughter in their lives, says Mrs. Gruzman, as she shares some anecdotes. “On a recent trip to Israel, a security officer couldn’t help but tease my husband by saying he should change his name to Lavan after waving Rochele and Leah’le through….” Only in Israel, right?

On a different trip, before their third set of twins were born, a pilot saw their family and the double twin set of girls they had at the time, and decided to give them a unique brachah — that their next set be a pair of boys! Little Mendel, who was born right after that, is still waiting (not so patiently at this point). He’s the only boy with seven sisters, and would love for more brothers to follow!

“Mendel’s bris sticks out in my mind,” says Mrs. Gruzman. Towards the end of his bris, she was holding his twin sister when someone walked over to her and said, “This isn’t your baby, right? You had a boy!” Apparently, she was one of the few who hadn’t realized that this was yet another set of twins!

Meet the Family
Twin Set #1:
Names: Mushka & Ita
Age: 12
Identical? No
Shared Hobby or Favorite Food: We’re pretty different and enjoy different things. Mushka likes to cook, bake, and organize, while Ita enjoys reading and sometimes, when she’s in the mood, studying.
Fun Fact: We get to say lots of them later on!


Twin Set #2:
Names: Rochele & Leah’le
Age: 7
Identical? Yes
Shared Hobby or Favorite Food: We both love to make people laugh, and we’re pretty good at it, too. Our favorite snack is Bissli!
Fun Fact: Even though we’re identical, our family never has trouble telling us apart. Our older sisters have noticed that our faces each have a unique shape, and Rochele has two beauty marks on the side of her face. That’s the easiest giveaway.
Back in kindergarten, the principal begged our mother to dress us differently so everyone could recognize who’s who, but we loved matching and didn’t want to dress differently. They constantly mixed us up!
Oh, and there was this one time when we decided to switch seats. But by then our teacher had already learned how to tell us apart and saw through it right away.


Twin Set #3:
Names: Mendel & Esty
Age: 3
Identical? No
Shared Hobby or Favorite Food: We like to play “Mommy and Tatty” all day long! Our Mommy says that we act like a little couple. We argue, we agree, and we have lots of important things that we discuss together all the time.
Fun Fact: We hardly even look like siblings! Mendel is blonde and has
light skin, and Esti has brown hair with a drop of a darker skin tone.


Twin Set #4:
Names: Miri & Chevi
Age: 8 weeks old
Identical? No
Shared Hobby or Favorite Food: We’re not eating solids just yet, and we love to sleep! According to our older siblings, we’re always looking around, especially out the window, and we enjoy a good walk.
Fun Fact: We look like the oldest set of twins in our family. Miri looks like Ita, and Chevi resembles Mushka.


Meet Mushka & Ita, the most experienced twins in the family.
Hi Mushka and Ita!
First of all, a belated mazel tov on your double bas mitzvah last week!
Kids around the world are super curious to know what it’s like to be a part of a family with four sets of twins kein ayin hara! How do you think your family is different from your friends’ families?

Mushka: We double! Instead of having one at a time, we have two.

Ita: And everyone in our family always has a partner to play with.

Mushka: Which means double the mess, of course, and double of everything else! Two beds in each room, two of… pretty much everything around the house!

We don’t know of any other family that has four sets of twins! Have you beat any world records?

Ita: Nope! The world record is 16 sets of twins in one family, from back in the 1700s.

Mushka: But we’re for sure the only ones with four sets in Castro Valley, and probably even all of California.

Has having double of everything become normal for you? What’s your reaction each time you find out that another set of twins is joining the family?

Ita: It’s no surprise, we don’t expect anything different!

Mushka: Except that with the new babies, we weren’t really expecting them to both be girls again. That was definitely a surprise to us.

Do you think there’s any similarities between all the twin A’s vs. all the twin B’s in the family?

Mushka: There’s a few. All the older twins start with the letter mem. There’s myself, then Rochele whose full name is Menucha Rochel, then Mendel and Miriam! And no, our parents didn’t do that purposely! We only realized afterwards.

Ita: All of the younger twins are actually a drop taller, too. Some people also say that all the older twins resemble each other, and the same for younger ones, but we don’t really see that so much.

Mrs. Gruzman: And if we ever need to make teams in the family, it’s an easy split! We just do all the older twins vs. the younger halves.

How about the ability to read each other’s minds? And what about the others in the family?

Ita: It’s not so true for our family. Here and there, we’ll randomly say something at the same time, but that’s pretty much it.

Mushka: It’s generally identical twins who tend to do that. Rochele and Leah’le often claim they’re thinking alike, but it doesn’t really seem that way to us.

Ita: I guess we’ll find out for real once they’re older!

Can you tell us about a funny reaction or experience you’ve had on sharing with someone that you have four sets of twins in your family?

Mushka: We once told someone we had three sets of twins in our family, before Miri and Chevi were born, and she started to laugh! She asked us what the real number is, and it took some time for us to convince her that we were actually serious!

Mrs. Gruzman: Very often, we see people staring at our family, as they try to wrap their heads around the fact that they’re truly seeing one set of twins after the other. Sometimes they’ll even ask us: “Are these twins? What about those? And them also?! The babies, too?” We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve watched people’s jaw drop, as they put it all together!

That’s really funny! What about Purim? Have you ever done something fun in connection with all the twins?

Mushka: Yes! We usually have a big Purim party for our community in our Chabad House, but during Covid, we did a “Drive-in Purim” instead, and dressed up as a similar idea to “Cat in the Hat.” We all wore T-shirts that said ‘Twin 1A,’ ‘Twin 1B,’ ‘Twin 2A,’ etc. for each twin member of our family.

Ita: And our parents each wore a T-shirt that said “Father of Twins” and “Mother of Twins”!

Your community must have gotten a real kick out of that! Can you tell us what you mean by a “Drive-in Purim”?

Ita: Instead of joining us indoors, we celebrated with our community by having them drive in to a huge parking lot outside a public school where our parents had large screens set up. Everyone sat in their cars, and received special Purim packages with everything they would need for the program, including mishloach manos, of course!

Mushka: Then, our parents told everyone to tune into our sound on their car radio. It was pretty cool to have the same Purim music and effects playing in each car! Only the Megillah reading was heard live through their windows.

Ita: We even had a Purim costume contest that year. Participants sent in their photos in advance, we displayed them on the screen, and everyone voted through beeping their car horns!

Mushka: A lot of people told us they’d never forget that year’s Purim!

I’ll bet! Now, for a very original question: What’s the best part of being a twin?

Ita: Yes, we get asked this question all the time. The answer is that I don’t have an answer because I was always a twin!

Mushka: We don’t actually know what it’s like to not be a twin. We’ve never known any different.

Ita: We’re very lucky that wherever we go, we don’t go alone. For example, we went to camp for the first time this past summer, and we each knew someone! We both had each other.

That’s awesome. I’m sure there’s a lot of kids who would love to have an all-time companion! How about the hardest part?

Mushka: Actually, it’s kinda the same thing. In some situations, we both feel it would be better for us to be alone, but we always have our twin with us!

Ita: Teachers often compare us, too, which can be hard, but our friends are usually good about it.

It’s nice to hear that. You must have good friends! Many twins feel differently, and would say that their friends compare them, even if they don’t mean to.

Ita: It probably helps that even though we have some similarities, our personalities are generally pretty different.

Mushka: And many of our friends have grown up with us. We’ve known each other since we were little girls, maybe that helps to reduce the comparisons, too.

Mrs. Gruzman: An interesting thing about twins, and it’s definitely true with the girls here, is that they can be trendsetters. Because they’re two, they often do this without even realizing.

Ita: Sometimes, I’m curious about what life would be like without a twin. One thing for sure is that if I wasn’t a twin, I’d need someone close in age to me in my family, because life would otherwise be so boring!

Double the Brachos!

“Having so many sets of twins in one family may seem daunting to some people,” says Mrs. Gruzman. “But for us, there’s no denying the double-dose of brachos it’s brought on, and we are only grateful!”

So the next time you meet a pair of twins, go ahead and have fun with your questions! But remember that although they may share the same date of birth and have lots of similarities, they are different people! They’ll be grateful to you for remembering that.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 974)

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