Laura Ben-David
Sharing Israel with the world through my lens

A soldier and a boy: a photo essay

When the things you love become your work, it can make you a happy person indeed. It can also create all sorts of interesting scenarios when work and personal life collides! This was the general theme of an article I wrote several months ago for Pixel/Point Press, about how my passion for Aliyah and Nefesh B’Nefesh, and my love for social media and lately, photography, often cross seamlessly between my personal and professional experiences [I am the social media coordinator at Nefesh B’Nefesh, and the ‘official’ amateur photographer there as well], to the point where it’s sometimes hard to tell them apart. A great example of this occurred a few weeks ago with a bar mitzvah celebration.

Several months back, a family from LA reached out to Nefesh B’Nefesh for their son to do a bar mitzvah project for our Lone Soldiers Program. While helping them set up the project, I recognized the mother’s name; as it turns out we went to school together years ago, and hadn’t seen each other in all that time.

After a successful campaign in which 13 year-old Avi sold snow cones, held bake sales, and offered his services as a mother’s helper, he exceeded his fundraising goal in time for the private bar mitzvah ceremony he was to have at the Kotel in Israel this summer. Armed with dozens of beautiful notes Avi had arranged for his friends to write to lone soldiers, he and his family arrived in Israel.

Excited to meet the boy who dedicated months of his life to a cause that is so precious to us, and eager to do what we could to make it that much more special, I joined LA native Benji Davis – NBN’s program coordinator and a former lone soldier himself – and we made our way to the Kotel to celebrate with Avi and his family. But we didn’t go empty-handed.

In addition to my ever-present camera, we brought gifts for Avi plus a special certificate acknowledging all that he had done. But the biggest highlight of all was that we brought Adam. As one of the thousands of lone soldiers for whom Avi’s project was geared, Adam happens to be from LA as well and had forged a special friendship with Avi over the past few months via email. If you can imagine, it was an incredibly emotional experience, but I’ll let the photos speak for themselves:

Just after the services, Adam approaches Avi, a proud smile on his face. (photo credit: Laura Ben-David)
Adam spontaneously put Avi on his shoulders as they danced at the Kotel with pure joy. (photo credit: Laura Ben-David)
Avi tries on Adam’s ‘kumta’ while his family looks on. (photo credit: Laura Ben-David)
(photo credit: Laura Ben-David)
Adam and Benji Davis present Avi with a certificate of appreciation. (photo credit: Laura Ben-David)
(photo credit: Laura Ben-David)




About the Author
Laura Ben-David is a photographer, public speaker and Israel advocate. Inspired by her Aliyah experience, Laura began writing and never stopped. She is the author of the book, MOVING UP: An Aliyah Journal, a memoir of her move to Israel. She has spoken all over the world about Israel, Aliyah and other topics, often with beautiful photographic presentations. Formerly the head of social media at Nefesh B'Nefesh, Laura is the director of marketing at Shavei Israel as well as a marketing consultant.