Someone Else’s Simcha / Gal and Maayan’s Double-whammy Birthday – a Twin-twin Situation

Sisters celebrate 22 years of never relinquishing what’s most important: staying together.

Ron Ben-Tovim
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Gal and Maayan's birthday bash, Rishon Letzion, May 2014. Red was the color. Credit: Gil-Cohen Magen
Ron Ben-Tovim

Location: Soho Sushi & Bar

Time: 10:30 P.M.

In the neighborhood: An amalgam of sizable neon signs against slightly overcast skies. Families and hordes of young men and women pack Rishon Letzion’s swanky new nightlife neighborhood known simply as the District. The amplified voice of a stand-up comedian drifts from a nearby restaurant and bounces off angular, ultra-modern public sculptures.

Venue: Marked by a mega-neon sign outside, the Soho restaurant, a Rishon Letzion institution of sorts, turns into party central. On the inside, red lighting dominates a large bar area, flanked by rows of black tables. Balloons, clinging to the acoustic ceiling, tremble slightly as the DJs bounce their bass hits.

Simcha: Gal and Maayan’s double-whammy birthday

Number of guests: 50

A brief history of time: Gal and Maayan, 22, were born to Adina Berger and her husband Kobi, who died when the twins were only 3. The vivacious and apparently inseparable twins were raised in a secular home (Maayan: “Completely secular”) by their mom and her longtime partner, Zion, in, quite appropriately, the coastal city of Rishon Letzion. Gal: “He’s like a father to us.”

Despite the apparent dangers of life as twins (Gal: “We have twin friends who used to spit on each other”), the blissful twosome have had nothing but fun in their shared, though not identical, life.

Doing practically everything together from childhood (Adina: “They slept in the same bed until they were 17”), the dynamic duo stuck together later in life too. They served in the same military base and, skipping the same post-army trip to India, got a job at the same restaurant (Soho, naturally). They studied at the same management college. Gal: “We’re strong-minded, we know what we want.”

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The Soho has become something of an institution.Credit: Gil Cohen-Magen
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Gal and Maayan’s birthday bash, Rishon Letzion, May 2014. The birthday girls. Credit: Gil Cohen-Magen
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The women did most of the dancing. Credit: Gil Cohen-Magen

Rites: On this brisk early-summer evening, a soft wind blows beyond the large potted plants outside and enters the restaurant's dense, crimson-lit interior, with hyper-stylish young men and women huddling to get in.

Deeper inside, the room runs red and black as Gal, in a white summer dress, and Maayan, in a blue number, happily greet the incoming guests. At the side of the room, the DJ, perched in an elevated booth, lazily flips through his smartphone as he churns out music loud enough to break the many wine glasses scattered about.

Taking up about half the restaurant’s physical space, and most of its vibe, the twins’ battalion of friends and mom set up shop at five sleek tables near the entrance. Spots of bright light flash and fade as guests flip through their iPads.

Outside, Shani and Niv, 22, childhood friends of the happy duo, go out for a break in the cool air, armed with twin bottles of diet coke. “They’re inseparable,” Shani says, blowing smoke from her slender cigarette. Niv nods in agreement.

Back inside, the dancing beings in earnest as a bunch of the twins’ friends rock the house amid the tables, sharing shots of alcohol and the odd yelp and cheer. Before she knows it, mom Adina is inserted into the mix. Everyone involved cheers; the many Instagram and Facebook documenters standing around get busy.

Soon enough the aisles are packed with dancing women, the guys opting to hang tight by the tables, as the alcohol and music run free. A waitress walks by, mouthing the lyrics to a Nicki Minaj song.

Music: MTV-style hip-hop club bangers.

Food: Sushi galore, in fried, inside-out or outside-in form.

Drink: Wine, sparkling wine, beer, whiskey, vodka and cocktails.

Word in the ear: Adina, on encouraging the girls to take a bigger break after their military service and before adult life: “I said to them, ‘Are you crazy? Go!’ But they’re determined, they know what they want. To start a business together, something together.”

In my spiritual doggy bag: For some, getting on with the serious task of living an adult life and having adult aspirations doesn’t mean giving up on having some fun.

Random quote: Outside the restaurant, a girl addresses a very dark-haired, tanned young man as “Weasley,” explaining to her friend: “You know, like the one in Harry Potter.”

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