Triplets share 3 times the fun in 3 successive bnot mitzvah

WINDSOR, Conn. — When triplets Alisa, Allie and Ashley Kraushaar were born, they were identical in appearance. But according to their mother, Tammi, they have always thought of themselves as different.

The girls were scheduled to have their b'not mitzvah on three successive Saturdays, with the last one taking place tomorrow. Luckily, all of their relatives live nearby, except Tammi Kraushaar's mother, who flew in from Florida and will stay awhile.

The services are being held at Beth Hillel Synagogue in Bloomfield, Conn. The sisters will have a shared party tomorrow night.

Selecting separate dates for her daughters' coming-of-age ceremonies logically follows Kraushaar's philosophy in their upbringing.

"They were very different growing up. They went to friends' houses by themselves. They were separated for most of their school years, and when they started a new school in middle school, they each made their own friends," she said. "This is an important day, and I wanted each of them to have their own day to shine."

Multiple births do not run in her family, so when she gave birth to triplets 13 years ago, it was one of those occasional anomalies, said Kraushaar, who also has a 23-year-old daughter. She is completing a degree in psychology and has become engaged. The wedding is planned for Sept. 1.

"It's been a difficult year getting ready for these events, but their father helps out," says Kraushaar, who has been divorced from Gary Kraushaar for two years. "It's been a year of simchas for us, with the bat mitzvahs and the engagement."

The girls' parents remain friends. Gary works as a helicopter mechanic for the Army and lives nearby. In his spare time, he pursues his interest in art, often spending time drawing with his daughters.

Tammi Kraushaar's father, who lives in East Hartford, Conn., is also an artist. She remembers him painting the walls of his seven children's bedrooms with characters from fairy-tales and children's books.

She attributes these artistic influences to the girls' interest in the arts.

Instead of playing with toys or board games, they most enjoyed arts and crafts and dressing up when they were younger.

"The girls have been doing plays for five years. They have probably been in seven or eight plays at the Jewish community center. They are currently in rehearsal for the Broadway review coming up soon," said their mom.

In addition to theater arts, an interest that Kraushaar shares by helping with hairstyling and makeup backstage, the girls each have other special interests. Alisa pursues gymnastics, Allie plays basketball and Ashley enjoys singing.

They are unlike in other ways too, according to their mother. "Their personalities are different. Even the way they speak is different. Their food tastes are different too. Ashley, the smaller of the three, is a picky eater and we tell her that's why she is smaller."

Allie agreed. "We are extremely different. I am nice, Alisa always gets her way and Ashley is the baby."

But they are close friends, she added in seriousness. "It's fun to be one of three. You are never really alone. There is always someone there."

Starting very young, they got used to being the object of curiosity wherever they went.

Their mother describes their struggles: "They are used to being stared at. Now that they are older, they have more fun with it. They were somewhat shy with the attention before, when they were younger. It was intimidating."

Just as all siblings, they also get on each other's nerves at times, and three is a difficult number for any social situation. "They do gang up two to one, and it's not always the same two. But when one is not here because of a sleepover or something, then they miss each other and wonder out loud what the other one is doing," Kraushaar said.

The triplets' mother works two jobs, one as manager of the outside calling center for The Hartford insurance company , and the other as director of Kadima and United Synagogue Youth for Beth Hillel.

"I like working with youth," she said. Obviously, she has a lot of hands-on experience.