September 24, 2011, was the date set for Evan's Bar Mitzvah more than 2 years ago. It is a very anticipated event in a young Jewish man's life. It marks his entrance into the adult community. It comes with celebration but also a newfound responsibility to the Jewish community. It is a rite of passage. Sophia and I were honored to be chosen to capture this special time in Evan's and his parents' lives.  We took some images on Friday afternoon to accommodate the Sabbath and the service was held on Saturday morning, followed by a total celebration that night! The skies drizzled a bit early Saturday but cleared enough to play at Central Park, across the street from the Temple Rodeph Sholom on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.   We first met Evan in 2008 in Greensburg, Kansas, when we went to photograph for New York Says Thank You. Evan, you see, is the catalyst for that organization. As a five-year old boy, he saw suffering in another community - wildfires in California - and told his dad they should go help them like people helped New Yorkers after 9-11. His father listened. They got a truck. They loaded it with toys and things. They drove it to California. They paid it forward. New York Says Thank You was born from the simple, selfless, kindness of this little boy. Evan has been instrumental in helping his father in the organization that has grown from his first trip to California to a group who has helped countless Americans rebuild, regroup, and believe in the American spirit again.  And, like his father, doesn't really like anyone to talk about him, but to focus on the task, the mission. Evan is incredibly well spoken but doesn't like to talk too much. He peers at you through locks of curly hair with huge deep blue eyes and the cutest grin ever! He really doesn't have to say much!  The Bar Mitzvah service was beautiful. Sophia and I were mesmerized by the traditions. Evan read from the Torah. The Torah is a handwritten parchment scroll containing the five books of Moses. They are kept in an ark in the sanctuary when not used for services.  As a bar mitzvah, Evan must read a portion of the Torah in Hebrew aloud to the congregation. It takes months of study and practice. He used a small pointer, a yad, to keep his place and follow along, as no one is allowed to touch the scrolls with their hands.  The cantor was marvelous. Really. Marvelous. The entire experience, new to us, was just divine. But then, I think that's how it was designed. :)

ParnessBM1001.jpgParnessBM1002.jpgParnessBM1003.jpgParnessBM1004.jpgParnessBM1005.jpgParnessBM1006.jpgParnessBM1007.jpgTHE CELEBRATION!! Now this was a PAR-TAY!  There was luau theme - Evan loves the beach! Surfboards, shells, beach cabanas.  Appetizer bar of sushi and all the trimmings, which changed out to a buffet of pastas, pizzas and more, which changed out to a dessert bar of candy, cookies, make your own sundaes and some of the best lemon and raspberry sorbet I've ever had, PLUS a smoothie bar all night long!  Custom airbrushed T-shirts, hula skirts, straw hats, colored socks to dance in, light sticks, a photobooth, necklaces, chocolate candies and a bag to tote it all home in were some of the favors. I have to say, Sophia and I were completely blown away by the DJ at this event. Yep, some guy playing songs, right? Uh, not quite. He had an Emcee and 3 or 4 "dance motivators" with him! They kept this party rolling from the first dance on. They were AWESOME! Giveaways of iTunes cards for various feats in the crowd. Limbo, run & freeze Coke & Pepsi games. They even had a special segment - Who Knows Evan? that was hilarious!  The Hora, hoisted Evan and his parents and little brother Josh, up on a chair to be danced in circles.  Toasts, candles, blessings, and a slideshow - all a testament to Evan's being loved and nurtured to this day.  You're a great guy, Evan, and we are proud to know you and call you friend!

Mazzeltov! Evan.  You're king of the world today!

Paul Drescher says:

Fabulous photos! Mazel Tov, Evan! Looks like a great party! Wishing you all continued success and happiness! from your cousins, the "Santa Cruz Dreschers"

(10.18.11 @ 11:12 AM)
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