Camelia Ohi and Rob Martin met in high school and dated seven years before they decided to tie the knot. They were thrilled to receive their first daughter, Eva on August 1st 2008. Shortly after Eva was born, Camelia received the amazing news that she’d be having a second daughter, Mia. The two girls kept Camelia and Rob busy, but they wanted one more. In 2012, they learned that they would have their first boy. Camelia, in order to honor her father (and because she loved the name), decided to name her son Kamran after her father. Camelia’s parents are Iranian and her dad grew up practicing Judaism. After the birth of their children, Camelia and Rob have become more active in the Jewish faith, wanting their children to have some guidance and spirituality in their lives. When they asked me to photograph the bris, I had to look up the details of the ceremony because I had never photographed one before, nor had I ever seen one performed. A Bris, or “Brit Milah” is the Jewish ceremony of circumcision.
Camelia’s parents live close to her and Rob and have a very nice house with lots of space, so they chose to have the event there. In addition, it provided for a more personal and private ceremony, with only close family and friends attending. Some may wonder how a procedure like this can be performed outside a hospital or pediatrician’s office, but after witnessing the event I can think of no better venue. Kamran underwent this meaningful rite of passage surrounded by the love and warmth of the people who care for him most.
It is an honor to be invited to a bris, as this ceremony is a major event in the life of a Jewish man. The circumcision must be performed on the eighth day of the boy’s life and represents his acceptance into the Jewish community. The mohel, or a devout Jewish man who has been trained to perform the circumcision, must conduct the ceremony in order for it to be considered official. A close family member or friend – a sandek, holds the baby during the circumcision. In this case, Camelia’s father, Kamran, held the baby, comforting him during the ceremony. The love and concern for little Kamran was so moving. In less than 10 seconds the circumcision was over, after which I think you could hear an audible sigh of relief. Baby Kamran was given a sugary pacifier and almost immediately stopped crying.
The Rabbi that conducted the ceremony was Rabbi Jillian Cameron and knows both Eva and Mia from Hebrew school. She cited eloquent and meaningful passages from the Torah prior to and after the circumcision. After the ceremony, traditional Persian dishes were served including fish and beef kabob, Persian rice, as well as the Jewish Challah bread, which commemorates the manna (or bread) that fell from the heavens when the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years after the Exodus from Egypt. Each single loaf is woven with six strands. Together, both loaves have twelve which represent each tribe of Israel.
What higher compliment can someone give you than inviting you to record such moving events of profound personal significance. I have known Camelia’s family for many years and it was so heartwarming to see how honored Camelia’s dad was to hold little Kamran during the ceremony. And I’m sure having lots of family support during this procedure was comforting for Camelia and Rob, who both shed tears throughout the ceremony. The Martin family has the love and support of a spiritual community, family, and friends, who all participated in this bris, welcoming the newest addition, Kamran Martin. And what a beautiful little boy he is!