Many couples remember, sometimes even embellish in their minds, the first time they met- the locked eyes across a room or the quick shy glance interrupted by other friends. However, Sarina and Asaf have absolutely NO memory of the first time they saw each other! Then again, they were only babies :)
Asaf’s mother was Sarina’s aunt’s best friend and she used to bring him to Sarina’s house so they could play together. Sarina’s mother even told me that she has a picture of Asaf and Sarina being breastfed next to each other- so I am sure they can be forgiven for focusing less on each other than on matters of more immediate concern. Still, it is one of the most delightful “How we met” stories I have ever heard.
There was heightened anticipation at Snug Harbor, where this lovely couple married. Sarina and Asaf didn’t see each other for a whole week before the wedding, which I am sure was especially hard for Asaf given Sarina’s beauty and warmth. In fact, they saw each other at the Bendenkin ceremony for the first time only when Asaf lifted her veil. That certainly set the stage for some incredible raw emotion, which I think is revealed in Sarina’s expressions on seeing her future husband. The Bedenkin is such a beautiful tradition and is one of the reasons I love capturing Jewish weddings. Being intimately familiar with so many of the customs, enables me to anticipate moments and create artistic frames. I feel not only inspired but deeply connected.
Asaf is Israeli, and 25 people flew in from Israel to attend the wedding. While I was taking their engagement photos, Sarina told me that after the wedding, they are planning to move to Israel and live there. It is incredibly exciting to move to a new country shortly after marriage and something I can wholeheartedly relate to. It seems as well to be somewhat of a tradition in the family. Asaf’s mother moved from the US to Israel after she met Asaf’s father, and they lived there for many years. Sarina’s Father also made the big jump to the US from Sweden, not just physically but religiously, after falling hopelessly in love and converting to Judaism.
It makes one reflect on how the person you chose to be with can so dramatically shape and change your life and push you in entirely unexpected directions. It can impact your environment, your friends, your language and, of course and perhaps most importantly, your personal growth. Perhaps the best thing in life is that you never know when that moment will come and when destiny will take hold and that journey will begin- whether it is in a bar sipping cocktails and making chance conversation or holding rattles next to each other in your mother’s arms.
Here is Sarina and Asaf’s story in Sarina’s words:
“Asaf and I have always known each other. As you know we have baby pictures together (I can’t find the picture sorry!). My mom’s sister (my aunt) and Asaf’s mother (she is American) are best friends from childhood. So whenever his family used to visit America I would see them at family BBQs and dinners. Asaf and I really got to know each other my year in Israel. After high school I went to Israel for the year to learn in Midrasha and I would spend many shabbatot at Asaf’s house – his mother was my Mommy away from home.
Asaf was in the army at the time (and would be for another 3.5 years since he went on to be an officer). We began to date half-way through my year and then we continued long distance for 3 years! It was very hard, but so worth it! We feel that since we overcame thousands of miles of distance, space and time, we can overcome anything. We believe our relationship and love is so much stronger because of it.
After he was released from the army & finished his psychometry, he flew to America to spend my final year of college with me. A month later he proposed to me in Central Park.
We love how much we have grown together (especially spiritually), how we challenge each other, and how we complete one another.”
P.S. Thank you Asaf and Sarina for trusting me to capture your beautiful wedding and allowing me to take part in this beautiful day. I wish you great happiness and a smooth transition to your new home in Israel. I can’t wait to visit you when I come to visit my family there.