I had the great honor to shoot an amazing young man's bar mitzvah last weekend at Temple Sinai in Washington, DC. It was a beautiful day. I could feel so much love from all of Isaiah's family and friends, supporting him, and so proud of him, as he came into his own as a contributing and accountable member of his faith. The speech he gave, thanking his dads, was enough to bring a tear to anyone's eye, mine definitely not excluded! Of course, it made me think of my own two-year-old son, imagining how I would feel as his parent on that day, as he stood in front of the congregation, realizing that he is becoming a man. I couldn't say enough good things about Isaiah - his heart showed through from the start that day. He was humble, sweet and funny, with an easy confidence about him.
We took a bunch of family photos before the service, in the sanctuary, but Isaiah's dads were even more interested in capturing the day in a documentary / photojournalistic style, which I loved. Some of the best photos are always those in-between moments.
No photos were allowed during the service, so I was able to sit and really take in the ceremony in a non-distracted way, which was neat for me, as I haven't sat in on a bar or bat mitzvah service since I was twelve or thirteen myself, at a friend's bat mitzvah. I have been a bar mitzvah photographer before, but haven't had the chance to sit and observe the service, so I appreciated the opportunity. I can see why photos are not allowed, and I think that is appropriate, so everyone can concentrate fully and be in the moment. As long as you get to do photos before the service, you get all the photos you need at that point!
As I sat through the service, listening to the Rabbi and the Cantor, as well as to Isaiah, singing and reading from the Torah, there were a few texts the congregation read aloud together, that really spoke to me. I want to record them here. Need I say that people of all faiths and even non-faiths can appreciate these words?
O God, Inspiration and Guide for all,
You have spoken in a thousand tongues for us to hear.
In every land and every age,
Your children have heard You and imagined You in separate ways.
And yet, O God, You are One, Unifier of humanity.
SOURCE OF ALL BEING, we turn to You as did our people in ancient days.
They beheld you in the heavens, they felt You in their hearts,
they sought You in their lives. Their quest is ours.
Help us to see the wonder of being.
Give us the courage to search for truth.
Teach us the path to a better life.
So shall we, by our lives and our labors,
bring nearer the world we envision,
one of justice, freedom and peace.
...I found my questions:
waiting to be posed,
they filled me with wonder.
Sit with me, Eternal Teacher,
encourage my seeking:
as I fill my hours with Your mitzvot,
so shall I be filled.
Send me through Your door
stretching up to honor Your Name,
sharing out this wonder,
enriching myself in the giving.