A Duet of Loving Kindness. Enduring Beauty of a Jewish Family

Spirituality & Modern Life series

First published at Israel National News, February 2021.

Covid pandemic has turned our lives upside down. For observing Jewish families, all spiritual peaks of our traditional year have transformed into something completely new, unexpected, unknown. But it is not only our holidays which we are trying to keep on a surface, 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 adopts to it in its own way. Parents, siblings and relatives are trying their utmost in a frantic effort to make this odd substitutional bar and bat Mitzvahs as celebrating as possible. 

And the children. In big families in particular, being witnessing 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 daring situation. 

All together, it poses a truly tough challenge to every observing Jewish family world-wide. How to handle it? What to do? To create something truly memorable for our children that they would bear it with them all their lives, being proud of it and cherishing it forever. 

As it happens in life, toughest drama can also produce the most powerful overcoming. There are so many various ways for that. In the special cases when people in question possess the richness of our tradition and the depth of their own inner content, this overcoming is getting into all 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 shined 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: 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 the life this way. 

Channah’s grandfather was first ever Chabad Lubavitch shlicha to Argentine, 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 little girl, all her life. Being moulded 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.  

Recently, one of Rabbi and Rebbetzin Kaminetski children, Yossi, has had his bar Mitzvah.  Celebrating it under the harsh realities in the pandemic restrictions, they have decided with assistance of their friends in the Dnepr Jewish community in Ukraine that Kaminetskis lead for over 30 years 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 Mitzvah, and the trend will be only growing. 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 because of many reasons. The video presents a 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 surprisingly high quality of singing and musicality by both protagonists, the father and the son – yet more surprising for those who would learn that both are singing publicly for the first time ever. What a fantastic debut.  

But most and foremost of all, this three-and-half minute video captures and produces a simply golden outpour of the best in our people: loving kindness, an accord of aspiration and wisdom, 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 the 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 relationships 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 are watching 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 in between our generations, with the wider audience. 

Being inspired by the talents of our dear friends, 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 Kaminetski family who live Jewish values as one breathes. This living is truly beautiful, as their singing is. 

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

Inna Rogatchi ©

February 2021