I have a hard time bringing on a new photo-assistant. I like them to be friends, contemporaries. People who've fought in the same wars. The latest addition to my roster of help is Reuvain. Perhaps you'll recall him from the Portrait Diary post with Rabbi Boteach (if not, read it). Reuvain is a gem. A really nice, down to Earth bochur (yeshivah student). Follows direction, quiet unassuming demeanor. I knew only a bit of his background before hiring him. I've learned that due to this or that, Reuvain has found himself unenrolled in yeshiva. Some rather unsensitive, or ignorant rabbis might call him a burn-out, scoffer, ne'er-do-well. I call him by his first name.
Reuvain recently joined me for a portrait assignment of the venerable Rabbi Moshe Weinberger, for Ami Magazine. I was hired at the behest of Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter, editor in chief.
I had wanted to shoot portraits of Rabbi Weinberger for a couple of years now. But, knowing how busy the Rabbi is, I didn't even attempt to try and call to solicit a sitting. I'm positive that Rabbi Weinberger has many and much more important things to do than to pose for my portrait project. I was elated when I got the call from Ami Magazine.
Reuvain and I packed out my gear in Crown Heights and sped off to the meeting at Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, Long Island. We chatted about Reuvain's predicament with yeshivas. He was kicked out of a yeshiva recently. A yeshiva that has a reputation for pulling in kids that have fallen out of the system. How he got booted is still a mystery. He's a good kid...who doesn't do his school work, or show up on time. My feeling is the emphasis should be on the good, but I'm not a school administrator. Aaaaaanyway.
Rabbi Frankfurter, as far as I know, was going into the interview with Rabbi Weinberger with an open mind to see where the conversation goes organically.
The Conversation organically INSTANTLY went to the topic of how many yeshiva students go through childhood, and the entire orthodox education system, and come out on the other side burned out, or dropped out without the slightest feeling of closeness to G-d, or even a keen idea of what holiness means on a personal level. The Rabbi precisely addressed the issue of how the yeshivas, and parents, aren't reaching their charge.
I suppose it's plain to see the divine providence of the situation. Reuvain took his position from outside Rabbi Weinberger's study, to a seat close to both Rabbis for the duration of the interview. He was overwhelmed.
So, after all, the whole scenario....the interview, the magazine, my coveted portraits....all nonsense. This all happened for Reuvain.
So there. This one's for you Reuvain.