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Double effort, double support – the joy of being a twin

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Being a twin is like being born with your number one fan. So say King David High School Victory Park’s two pairs of twins who collected a combined total of 15 distinctions in matric last year.

Sarah Lustig says having Jesse as her twin made studying more bearable and even a little bit fun at times, while Liora Scoop and her twin, Ariella, would bounce ideas off one another on the way to exams and quiz each other in the car.

“Liora is my confidante and source of support,” Ariella says. “She’s able to add humour and light to situations which seem bleak, and she motivated me during the year. I’m so grateful to have her as my twin sister. We complement each other in many ways: I like being outdoors and Liora is more of a homebody.”

Jesse, on the other hand, says he and Sarah have different personalities, but they have a solid relationship and are good friends. “Overall, I had a great school experience having a twin,” he says. “The only subject we both chose was history, and obviously, because we’re a boy-girl twin, our interests are different.”

They did study together, with Sarah mainly helping Jesse with Afrikaans. “I can definitely give myself credit for helping him pass the subject,” says Sarah, who achieved academic full colours.

Ariella, who excelled in academics and public speaking and served as chief whip in the executive of the Student Representative Council (SRC) from 2021 to 2022, says studying was probably the most daunting part of matric for her. “Though I preferred to study on my own, Liora was there to share notes with me and discuss topics when I needed support. I was so lucky to have someone who knew what I was going through and who was there to assist me when it all felt too much. We would sit together while pulling all-nighters in order to finish tasks. When I felt stuck or unmotivated, I would walk the six steps to Liora’s room, and she would help me to regain perspective. We would sit together in the Sukkah during Sukkot and learn quotes for essays and biology diagrams.”

Liora and Ariella took similar subjects for matric, but they enjoyed different aspects of the same subject. “For example, I loved learning about global and South African history, while Liora preferred investigating the role of historical events in modern life,” Ariella says. “During exams, our kitchen was filled with a variety of baked goods. Liora doesn’t enjoy baking or cooking and instead prefers the hobby of testing my creations.”

Says Liora, “Having Ariella with me definitely eased the workload. Often I would ask Ariella for help in remembering history topics and/or English essay structure.

“In terms of motivation, Ariella was a pillar of strength for me during matric. She would walk past my room and encourage me to start studying. She sometimes even made smoothies and reminded me to eat and drink when I was immersed in my books.

“Yet, when push came to shove, we had someone to confess our anxieties to. We had a person who would be completely honest and listen to the small things while being able to understand that it was urgent.”

Sarah and Liora agree that having a twin reduced the sense of loneliness in matric. “Being a twin makes us very close and we’re truly such great friends, so it was nice not having to go through matric without Jesse,” Sarah says.

“If I was struggling with the isolation of being in my room for extended periods of time, Ariella would be a breath of fresh air floating around the house, playing music and often asking if I would like to swim or go on walks,” Liora says. “She grounded me, and we found beauty in being together when we could.”

Liora once had a teacher who without fail would put Ariella’s mark on her report.

“However, teachers are human, and I have respect for the those who admit they’re having a hard time telling us apart,” Liora says.

Sarah felt that the teachers accepted her and Jesse for who they were. “Importantly, Jesse and I have never placed ourselves in competition with each other. We understand that we’re good at different things, and we’re entirely different individuals with our own identity.”

Liora has been recognised for her poetry in international publications and respected journals, and she participated in the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition.

In Grade 11 and matric, she was captain of the Poetry Slam and Writing Club, organising sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, and conducting a workshop at the 2021 Arts and Culture Festival. She also served as a co-head of Judaica on the SRC, and performed at the Festival of Excellence in Dramatic Arts (FEDA) and the Holocaust & Genocide Centre.

“Being a twin has so many advantages, even extending to experiences of telepathic communication [a story on its own]. Matric pushed me to embrace the fact that I had someone who knew me as an individual,” she says. “I took for granted the privilege of being a twin until I needed to have a twin. When I was completely isolated from others, I had someone to explain to me that I had the ability to overcome what was really blocking my thought processes.

“I have a sister and a friend, but it goes beyond identical DNA. Ariella is my person.”

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