The Covid pandemic has turned our lives upside down.
For observant Jewish families, all spiritual peaks of our traditional year have transformed into something completely new, unexpected, unknown
Inspired by the talents of our dear friends, the Kaminetzki family, I have created a special series of original artworks Duet of Loving Kindness. Enduring Beauty of Jewish Family which is presented here in the form of a photo-essay, an exclusive art panel to honor the special family who live Jewish values as one breathes. This living is truly beautiful, as is their singing.
But it is not only our holidays which we are trying to keep on an even plane, with more or less success. In many Jewish lives, such crucial events as Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah have been muted into some completely new experience for the second year now.
Each family adapts to it in its own way. Parents, siblings and relatives are trying their utmost in a frantic effort to make these odd substitutional Bar and Bat Mitzvahs as celebratory as possible.
And the children. In big families in particular, having witnessed their older brothers and sisters’ previous Bar and Bat Mitzvahs celebrated in the way we knew it, the children whose Bar and Bat Mitzvah are to be celebrated during the pandemic are in such a challenging situation.
Alltogether, it poses a truly tough challenge to every observant Jewish family world-wide. How to handle it? What to do? To create something truly memorable for our children that they would bear with them all their lives, being proud of it and cherishing it forever.
As happens often in life, the toughest drama can also produce the most powerful overcoming. There are so many ways for doing.that. In the special cases when people in question possess the richness of our tradition and the depth of their own inner selves, this overcoming reaches different levels altogether.
We closely know the family of Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetski, his wife Channah and their children for many years. We love them dearly, as many people do whose lives were and are illuminated because of who Rabbi Shmuel and Rebbetzin Channah are and what they project to the outside world.
I once said that Rabbi Shmuel is ‘a diamond of a man’, and the longer I know him, the more I think this way. Being a direct descendant of Rashi on his mother's side, Rabbi Shmuel projects his genetically rooted intellectual and spiritual brilliance generously, and it is always for sharing. He also can be tougher than tough, if the circumstances require it. As a diamond, indeed. He is witty and deeply cordial. And he shows extraordinary understanding and character amidst the most challenging situations. The best possible Rabbi and an exceptional man.
His wife Channah, who comes from the Baumgarten-Lipsker Lubavitch Chabbad family of the people who were devoted close assistants of the Rebbe, is a very special person, indeed: a brilliant mind, golden heart, beauty and witt, and that ever-present youthfulness which is a special and rare gift to those very few who are truly deserve to be mercifully highlighted in life this way.
Channah’s grandfather was first ever Chabad Lubavitch shliach to Argentina, while her grandmother was a close friend from youth with Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, the closest person to the Rebbe, the man of extraordinary mind and outstanding character. Channah herself in her childhood was lucky to spend many afternoons at the Rebbe’s house with his wife, Rebbetzin Chaya-Mushka, and remembers the Rebbetzin’s many talks with her, then a little girl, all her life. Being molded by such extraordinary people, Channah has told me very recently that ‘as far as I remember myself, I could not understand how to live, under any circumstances, in any place, without giving, whatever I had”. When domineering priority in one’s life is giving, this life is enlighted from within. And it warms up many people around you.
Recently, one of Rabbi and Rebbetzin Kaminetski children, Yossi, had his Bar Mitzvah. Celebrating it under the harsh realities of the pandemic restrictions, they decided with assistance of their friends in the Dnepr Jewish community in Ukraine that the Kaminetskis have led for over 30 years afer being sent to the beloved place of his youth by the Rebbe personally, to make a special video to commemorate the date.
Yossi himself has chosen that so very beautiful Ben Kodesh Lechol song by Shulli Rand and Amir Dadon. There are many Jewish boys today recording musical videos for their altered way of celebrating Bar Mitzvaha, and the trend will only grow. But there are videos and videos. The video which has been made for Yossi Kaminetski’s bar Mitzvah with his father Rabbi Shmuel starring with him there, is exceptional.
One can watch it endlessly for many reasons. The video presents very good cinematography - for which a well-deserved thank you goes to talented, cordial and understanding Larissa Tremba and her husband Vjacheslav who runs their La Tre studio. It also shows a tasteful symbolism, organically balanced emotions, not too much, and not too little. It brings out a surprisingly high quality of singing and musicality by both protagonists, the father and the son - more surprising for those who would learn that both are singing publicly for the first time ever. What a fantastic debut.
But frst and foremost, this three-and-half minute video captures and produces a simply golden outpouring of the best in our people: loving kindness, an accord of aspiration and wisdom, a best possible family bond. I just do not know a better living sample of what a Jewish family is about among the thousands of videos available on the theme. Additionally to that, there is also an organic, not boasting, spiritual aspect which shows how this enrooted dialogue of a Jewish believing person with the Creator originates a light of its own.
I think I know the secret behind this very special effect of Yossi Kaminetski’s bar-Mitzvah musical video. It is the substance of the characters of father and son there, and their relationship which has come so beautifully out from that wonderful singing duet.
To me and my husband, this video is a gift and a blessing. Every time when we watch it - which is a lot - the warmth of love and the rare depth of the mighty Jewish character of Rabbi Shmuel outpours from the screen and embraces us in a special enlightening way. I regard this video not as just a good song and nice smiles. There is so much more in it. It is a very valuable spiritual experience which enriches life by its beauty, its substance, its warmth, its depth and its gentleness. It is also the best live - and singing - illustration of the term ‘loving kindness’ I’ve seen for a long time.
And it is a rarity, too - as Rabbi Kaminetski did this incredible recording just for once, for this very occasion of unusual form of the Bar-Mitzvah of one of his sons, in a superb way of joining forces with Yossi to celebrate it in a memorable way.
I am very glad to be able to share this special video, this singing love between our generations, with a wider audience.
Video-link - https://youtu.be/NqrjdufF_PA
Link to the Inna Rogatch’s Duet of Loving Kindness original artwork series - https://rogatchifilms.org/?page_id=1256
All artworks by Inna Rogatchi (C). Duet of Loving Kindness series. Inna Rogatchi ©
Dr. Inna Rogatchi is president of the Rogatchi Foundation and a prolific,historian, fine artts photographer and speaker. Her forthcoming book is "Stars of Despair, Stars of Hope: Personal Reflections on the Holocaust in Modern Times".She is a member of the Board of the Finnish National Holocaust Remembrance Association.