Bar mitzvah during a pandemic–life carries on.

During this pandemic, many life milestones have been cancelled, postponed or Zoomed.

Jonah and his mom Shari (my friend since we were in preschool) opted for a “Socially Distant” in-person bar mitzvah. I certainly couldn’t miss that since I’ve known her family my whole life. Though I was filled with a little dread of COVID, I drove down from the Bay Area to Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley to attend and photograph Jonah’s bar mitzvah. It was held in the parking lot of the Orthodox Chabad of Sherman Oaks. I was allowed to photograph the bar mitzvah since it was held on a Thursday, not during Shabbat.

The uncles and grandma join for 1 quick mask-free photo
Best friends since we were 4 (that’s me on the left)

The event was both normal and surreal. As with most Jewish events, there are prescribed preparations and prayers that occur which make each service “normal”, predictable and comforting. There’s the donning of the tefillin, carrying the torah through the parking lot (congregation) reading from the Torah, and throwing candy at the bar mitzvah while shouting “mazel tov”.

That’s the normal.

Jonah puts on the tefillin
Rabbi finds his place in the torah.

And then, there’s the hand sanitizer, the gloves, personalized face masks, sitting/standing six feet apart, the rabbi holding the iPad so that online guests could see via Zoom.

Jonah and his Zoom congregation
Hi tech rabbi

That’s the pandemic normal.

And yet, even with the stress of staying far apart when you want to be close and touching, we find ways to come together for important life moments whether it’s through Zoom, or phone calls or standing at in the parking lot “sanctuary” under the basketball hoop.

The women’s side of the basketball court.

The photographs of this day tell the story of a boy becoming a man and of a family and a community coming together the best we can. It will never be forgotten. And one day, Jonah will tell his grandkids about his pandemic bar mitzvah and show them a beautiful album of photos to tell that story.

I am here to help you tell your tell your visual story of a life milestone or just a day in your life. Give a call to arrange a session. 510-917-0650. I do travel.

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