August 16, 2016

As the school year approaches, news of the hottest trends among pupils is rampant. But it’s a first-grade class at an elementary school located in the southern district of Israel that has stolen the spotlight for most popular local story: 13 sets of twins are starting school together.

The twins may be making a new Israeli record – though no official documentation exists. In 2013, a local newspaper in Kfar Saba announced that eight sets of twins were graduating sixth grade together.

The Guinness World Record is 24 sets of twins in one grade – recorded in 2013, at an Illinois school in the US.

A secretary at the Mevoot Be’er Tuvia elementary school, which was founded in 1930, confirmed to ISRAEL21c that a record 13 sets of twins will start kita alef (first grade) on September 1.

Not all the twins are from the Be’er Tuvia moshav, 17 kilometers southeast of Ashdod, where the school is located. The community school under the Be’er Tuvia Regional Council attracts children from neighboring towns.

The twins probably won’t be in classes together as schools normally split siblings where possible. The Mevoot Be’er Tuvia school is expecting over 150 first-graders and as such there will be at least four first-grade classes.

Seeing double has become the norm in Israeli schools and it is common to have at least one set of twins per grade, though it is usually more. After all, Israel boasts the highest ratio of twins  to population in the world, according to a 2013 report.

That report cited the government’s fully funded fertility treatments as responsible for the jump in twin births. In 2013, 51 of every 1,000 births resulted in twins in Israel. In comparison, in Holland the statistic stands at 20 twins per 1,000 births; in Germany, 18; in France, 16; and in Britain, 15.

Prior to IVF treatments, twins accounted for just two to three multiple births for every 1,000 Israeli deliveries.

And while the 13 sets of twins are the talk of town – they’ve been featured on local morning shows and in the Hebrew daily press — each of their families is getting ready for the start of the school year in the same way as everyone else.

“We’ve already taken them to buy school supplies and schoolbags. As far as they’re concerned, they’re ready to start the first grade tomorrow morning. They’re very excited, and keep talking about it and asking questions,” Yotam Gal, the father of Itamar and Yehonatan, told Ynet news. “Who will be their teachers? Who will be their classmates? What are they going to learn? What food should they take with them for breaks?”

“The kids are aware of where they’re heading,” Anat Kluska, mom of Omer and Yanir – her second set of twins — told the Hebrew online daily. “They have older siblings to help them, but they also know they need to help each other. For me it’s a very emotional event. They’ve already picked their schoolbags that grandma bought them, and everything is ready.”

For the teachers, however, getting ready may involve a bit more organization. The twins-times-13 may pose a new school-year challenge.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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