The last weekend in August was a special one, as Tayla and Jamie Berzack, students at High Meadows School, celebrated their b’not mitzvah at Congregation Beth Tefillah, culminating in the first event at Novare Events’ Bishop Station venue. “JusT” was the theme, incorporating the first letters of Jamie and Tayla’s names, as in “just have fun, just eat,” with “us” (parents Robyn and Gary) in the middle.
Twin personalities have long been a subject of interest and speculation. Jamie, the blonder twin, loves yellow as much as Tayla does teal. The former is a “sophisticated hippie and ray of sunshine,” the latter a fashionista with a fondness for pigs, according to the twins. Throughout the huge round room, the girls were illustrated in various cutouts and place cards displaying their fondness for bicycles, trees, books, and vintage keys — all done in black and white, illustrated by Jessica Sommerville of Your Events Solutions.
According to event planner Mireille Naturman, “The key was being able to assemble an incredibly talented vendor group to execute our vision throughout the entire process. Planning a mitzvah in a pandemic had its challenges, but the end product, with all the finishing touches, was achieved.”
At the service, Tayla, older than Jamie by one minute, commented on the parsha: “As the Jewish people entered Israel, we’re entering into the Jewish community as young Jewish adults. Similar to the Jewish people showing gratitude by observing the commandments, so are we required to observe commandments.” Jamie added, “Our Parsha, Ki Tavo (“When you enter”), is about the people of Israel entering the Holy Land and being grateful to Hashem and giving to those in need.”
Thus their mitzvah project: the “Helping with Challah” fund. The twins sent each person attending the service (in-person or virtually) a challah as a way of requesting donations for those less fortunate. Donations were used toward the Sandwich Project, an outreach supporting the homeless and food-insecure. Talya and Jamie also participated in the Am Yisrael Chai Bat Mitzvah Twinning Project, for which they were paired with two young girls who perished in the Holocaust and shared the last name of their great-grandparents, who fled Nazi Germany.
In employing Naturman, Robyn said, “We contacted Mireille 5 months ago. Not knowing where to start, she was instrumental in connecting us with our dream team of vendors who listened and brainstormed to make the story come to life. She ensured that everything was on track and connected. This was critical and showed in the seamless design of the weekend.” Naturman said, “Robyn is extremely creative, so it was a huge compliment to plan her twins’ mitzvah.”
Sommerville, the illustrator, commented, “Walking around the periphery of the huge room, guests got involved with mini venues and black and white original sketches. The library had phrases and books with furniture groups and custom pillows. The details included community seating tables with illustrated legs, stations with a French vibe, like the dessert bar with awnings, lighted hi boys, hearts and rainbows. The DJ had a custom back drop with instruments, near a TV with a sketched frame. The PJ shop storefront was a huge hit, with soft quality pajamas as swag. The chevron floors, and super tall windows indoor, and outdoor areas with patio furniture and striped umbrellas, made for safe COVID distancing.”
Other fun areas included a fizzy truck with kid-friendly and adult drinks, as well as flowers attached to the walls.
Cuisine by Sandra Bank and Erin Lis, of Added Touch Catering, got five stars for a thematic pescatarian/vegetarian menu. Lis said, “We took inspiration from Jamie and Talya’s storybook, with hobbies like tennis, books, rainbows, fashion, art and music incorporated into the food presentations: golden arancini balls passed on tennis rackets, jars of crudité displayed inside books, and Thai rainbow summer rolls on rainbow-lined trays.” Dinner was a “Market Station” high-end grocery store with lined shelves of “canned” foods with customized labels, like seared tuna in “Chicken of the Sea” containers, gazpacho in “Campbell’s Tomato Soup” cans, and homemade SpaghettiOs for the kids. The market also included a “Hot Sandwich Counter” with hanging heat lamps over salmon sliders, vegetable paninis, and grilled cheese sandwiches, a produce cart with jars of salads, and fresh produce on display.
A fashion-forward “latke bar” was styled after a cosmetic counter, with makeup tins of flavored salts, shampoo pump bottles of apple and lemon sauce, dropper bottles with truffle oil, and syringes with sour cream and chipotle aioli. Dessert was inspired by the South African branch of the family, which has a store in Paris. The Patisserie desserts were in a refrigerated display case, alongside jars of baked treats. Outside, guests could pick an apple from a tree filled with candies for a take-home treat.
Dad Gary gave credit to his wife for the success of the simcha: “Being able to celebrate our daughters b’not mitzvah was so special! Robyn has an incredibly creative side, which she has practiced every year with Tayla and Jamie’s amazing birthday parties, building up to this incredible function. She was the key to the look and feel of the whole event.”
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- STYLE Magazine
- Bat Mitzvah
- Bar/Bat Mitzvahs
- Congregation Beth Tefillah
- Gary Berzack
- Jamie Berzack
- Robyn Berzack
- High Meadows School
- Added Touch
- Novare Events’ Bishop Station
- Jessica Sommerville of Your Events Solution
- Mireille Naturman
- Helping with Challah
- Sandwich Project
- Am Yisrael Chai Bat Mitzvah Twinning Project
- Nazi Germany
- Cuisine by Sandra Bank and Erin Lis
- Added Touch Catering
- Patisserie desserts
- B'not Mitzvah
- Tayla Berzack