Standing only several inches taller than the podium, Paige Goldstein confidently leads Shacharit, the morning prayers, with her purple glasses barely visible from the back of the room. Her brother, sister and parents follow along inside the empty sanctuary in Congregation Beth Emeth, in Herndon.
After 20 minutes, Bryn Goldstein picks up where her sister Paige left off. She is taller, with orange earrings and a blue hairband, and continues the service without faltering.
By this time, Marc Goldstein, who is taller than Bryn with light brown, slightly coiffed hair, is also on the bima.
He is the third of the Goldstein triplets.
The three stand in front of the ark and prepare to bring out the Torah for one of their last lessons before their b’nai mitzvah on Nov. 19.
A triplet b’nai mitzvah is an intricate dance of chair swapping and place switching but for parents Dana and Dave Goldstein, of Herndon, everything has come in threes for the past 13 years; b’nai mitzvah for their triplets Paige, Bryn and Marc, will be a complicated, but well-orchestrated affair.
“I’m used to [it]; I don’t know anything different,” says Dana, 43, who was quick to begin planning the ceremony and reception since she learned the date two years ago.
“This is all we know; we’ve never experienced anything else. So this is normal to us,” says Dave, who balances his wife’s detail-oriented nature with a more laidback personality.
More alike than not
People often don’t realize the Goldsteins are triplets, the family says.
“When we’re going out to eat, it’s hard for [people] to figure out we’re all related, cause we’re all so different size-wise,” Marc says.
Bryn adds the trio looks like “stepping stones of heights.”
And they’re all different personality-wise. Marc is assertive and outgoing, comfortable voicing his opinion. Bryn is easy-going, focused on achieving her goals without confrontation. Paige is energetic and ambitious, always ready for whatever is going to happen next.
But the trio look past their differences.
“We’re more alike than we are unlike,” Marc says. “Bryn plays softball, so that is something we share. Bryn and Paige like to sing so that is something they share. Paige and I are similar” in personality.
Asked about something everyone should know about her family, Paige says that people “need to know that we’re triplets.”
Too many opinions
Getting three teenagers to agree on anything requires negotiations, says Dave, while waiting in the lobby of the synagogue for a previous lesson to end.
“What you’re going to hear from the kids in the morning is different than what you hear in the afternoon,” Dave says.
To finish preparations on time requires creative thinking to resolve roadblocks diplomatically, decisiveness to know which choices the teens should be involved in, and the preparedness to etch things in stone once a decision is made, according to Dave.
One of the tough decisions for the Goldsteins was theme; what appealed to the girls didn’t necessarily entice Marc, and vice versa.
“When I was growing up bar mitzvahs didn’t really have themes. You picked a color for your invitation and that was it,” says Dave, 45. “Getting them to agree on [a theme] was time consuming.”
The solution? Tie dye. Each teen picked several favorite colors to integrate into the invitations. Of course, there were other decisions where the parents had the last word.
“Like the [photo] montage, they say: ‘I want this picture or I don’t want that,’” says Dave, referring to his kids’ objecting to some photos being included because they were embarrassing.
In that case, Dave and Dana made executive decisions.
Back in the sanctuary, the triplets discuss choreography: where to sit after a prayer, when to come up for their individual aliyot and what to do (and not to do) while the Torah is being paraded through the congregation.
It’s all been planned out.
Paige will lead Shacharit, Bryn has the Torah service, which leaves Marc with Musaf, the additional service.
Marc will be the first triplet to have an aliyah, followed by Bryn and then Paige.
They all contributed to writing their speech, but Marc will deliver it. The Torah portion is Vayera, which includes the angels’ visit to Abraham and Sarah to tell them they will have a child, despite Sarah’s old age.
It’ll be crowded up there on the bima, but the trio is always optimistic despite their sometimes hectic lifestyle.
Bryn says of her siblings: “It’s really cool because you always have somebody.”