A few months before Karen and I were married in 1977, we drove to Boston so I could meet one of Karen’s closest friends.
It was one of those get-the-best-friend’s-approval gigs.
Not too much pressure for yours truly.
Naturally, the day we drove, a Friday, there was a ferocious New England snowstorm. With visibility close to zero, we limped into the friend’s home about 45 seconds before Shabbat.
Karen’s friend and her husband were active members of The Bostoner Rebbe’s congregation.
On Sunday, before making our way back to New York, Karen and I were granted a private audience with The Rebbe. Rabbi Horowitz spoke fondly of his friendship with Karen’s father. He quizzed me about my plans to be a Hollywood screenwriter. Rather than discourage my career choice, The Rebbe told me that it was a perfect opportunity to illuminate Judaism.
Gracious, witty and wise, Rabbi Horowitz kindly gave us a pre-wedding b’racha, a blessing, which we have always treasured.
The Rebbe also agreed to sit for a portrait.
In those days I worked with a Nikon SLR, and shot almost exclusively in b & w.
I asked The Rebbe to sit at his desk where there was a spray of soft winter light. The Rebbe continued talking to Karen while I snapped off just three shots, all from the same low angle. The Rebbe is relaxed but he’s also intensely focused on what’s going on outside the frame. You get the feeling that he’s just about to smile. It’s a lovely moment that comes close to capturing this fine man’s essence.
Years later, before we went into production on A Stranger Among Us, I showed this picture to director Sidney Lumet and said: “This is what a Rebbe looks like.”
Sidney sent the picture to wardrobe and make-up.
The Rebbe in the movie, played by Lee Richardson, looks remarkably like The Bostoner Rebbe.
Karen and I wish all our friends and relatives a peaceful Shabbat filled with b’rachas.
And if you live in Israel, A Stranger Among Us will be screened next week at The Jerusalem Cinematheque.
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