Twinning – Sarah & Evan's Temple Rodeph Shalom B'nai Mitzvah
On April 22nd, I was honored to photograph Sarah and Evan’s B’nai Mitzvah at the Temple Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia, with a reception at Tedenza.
Twins are tricky. While everyone likes to refer to them as “the twins,” or as a unit, I have found what twins really want is to be recognized as individuals first, siblings second, and twins third. How do I know? Because that’s what I asked Sarah and Evan the first time I met them for their practice session on a snowy January afternoon.
Sarah and Evan were your typical almost-13-year-olds and didn’t want to have their photos taken or do a practice session—probably because they simply didn’t understand that a practice session for my mitzvah kids is more of a “get to know you and have fun so you don’t think I’m some weird lady” kind of photoshoot. I had a feeling Sarah was more nervous than her brother, so I started with her. I let her warm up to me before I took Evan out on his own as well. And before they knew it, I’d dragged them outside to photograph them having a snowball fight!
Imagine, if you would, two kids who wouldn’t even stand next to each other to start with finally hugging and actually enjoying their time together, not only for their practice session but for their actual B’nai Mitzvah, too. I told them, "You may think you don't like each other, but you were living in the same dark and cozy place for 9 months together, and no one will understand how close you really are besides the two of you. Keep that in mind when you want to smash each other's faces in. Because on your big day, you can lean on each other's shoulders and help one another through it." And I think it worked! On their big day, you could tell they really got it and were talking arm in arm, just being happy together.
Since the actual B’nai Mitzvah was pretty early in the morning, my second shooter, Steve Langdon, and I decided that maybe just meeting at the temple was a better idea than trying to do “getting ready” pictures. Instead, we opted to do those “getting ready” images before the big party after the service.
This worked out well, because Sarah was REALLY nervous even before she got to the temple. I was able to steal her away from her family and the crowd to simply listen to her and help her work off a lot of her nervous energy—all while giving her the best pep talk I could manage. I believe between myself and the rabbi, who said some incredible words of private encouragement to Sarah, the tears turned to joy, and Sarah was ready. But it was Evan that kept checking in on her in his own way—and during the service, you could see that he had her back. It was amazing to see.
After the service, I met Sarah and Evan back at their house, where everyone was getting ready before heading out to Tedenza for a party like no other. Denise, their mother, had decided it would be more fun to surprise the kids by not telling them anything about the details of the party, so when Evan and Sarah arrived, their mouths stayed open for over an hour. They kept saying things like, “OH MY GOD! Look at this cake! OMG, the food! OMG! Look at this room! THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER!” Needless to say, they were very grateful.
Their cakes were over the top and amazing. Sarah had a fondant Hot Topic shopping bag on the top of hers, while Evan’s was based on the Philadelphia Soccer Union. When I Instagrammed Sarah’s cake, I hashtagged the store #hottopic, and two days later, that photo had been reposted and received over 75,000 likes!!! If you know any 13-year-olds, you know that likes are EVERYTHING to them. So when I called Sarah to tell her about all the likes a couple days later, she screamed her head off. Hot Topic even sent her a gift card thanking her. And Evan’s Philadelphia Soccer Union Cake was liked on Instagram by the organization, which made him a very happy young man.
But it was the party itself that really made their nights. There was TONS of dancing, not to mention incredible food. Romeo and his crew from All Around Entertainment really outdid themselves, as usual. Every moment, every detail, was amazing.
Sarah and Evan, you are the lights of my life. You have really made me feel like a friend and part of your family as I’ve been honored to photograph you both. Thanks for hanging out with me when I came to visit you last month. I adore you and your family so much my heart is exploding with joy.