Screen Shot 2012 04 26 at 7 40 42 PM

I got an email from my friend David Jasse (he runs DMJ Digital): Shmuel, At ABC they are looking for a DSLR shooter; contact this and this person. The shoot would entail a one week trip to the wilderness of Chile – awesome!

I contacted immediately the Mercedes, the producer of the show – what a kind and professional lady. We had a great chat and she explained to me that they are looking for an additional shooter for their second season of the ‘Born to Explore’ show airing on ABC channel. In three weeks they would travel to Chile in order to shoot their first episode.  “I would love to come!” I said excitedly. An opportunity to try something new.  I’m always up for a new challenge.

I sent the producer some work samples of mine and she was “really blown away” by my shooting style and wanted to hire me for the show. We checked the availability, a ten day shoot. We sorted out some audio sync things that can happen with the Canon DSLR cameras. I spoke with her sound guy to make sure that we will record sound properly so that we have professional audio and would have a flawless post production process without any hiccups. The sound guy assured me that this will be a really cool opportunity and experience of a lifetime to go with a crew to Chile and shoot with Richard Wiese the host of the show.


The show’s host Richard Wiese

Once we nailed all the details I dropped the bomb and told the producer that I would keep Shabbat, which means I would need a day off on Saturday to serve G-d. ‘Oh no’ she sighed disappointedly into phone.  “We can’t take a day off on that trip. There is nothing you can do?  I know Passover is a day to not work.”  I explained that Jews who keep Shabbat would not work on that day even if they would receive a million dollars.
I can’t tell you how disappointed she and I were.. It was such  fit. I totally understood her decision. You know, I always hear the old stories from Jews coming to America and struggling to find jobs that would allow them to keep Shabbat. I always felt it was a story from yesteryear and that those days are long gone. And now I’m facing this situation myself. Here and today. Jobs outside of the Jewish world are dictated by deadlines and 24/7 availability. A real shame.

This is nothing new to me – I gave up my career as a professional violist in Berlin to keep Shabbos.  But I can’t say it’s not disappointing.  Even hours after my phone call with Mercedes I feel I have to tell you about it. I feel that this was a chance to do something new, exciting and cool to expand my work field. Hopefully G-d has another opportunity coming my way.

My wife always likes to quote R. Cowan when he talks about the year 1492.  “Whenever the door closes in Spain, a door opens in America.”  Whenever a door closes for the Jews in one place, it opens in another.  I hope she’s right.  (She usually is 🙂




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  1. David Komer says:

    Way to go Shmuel, keep on doing what you do! Eventually, G-d willing, the higher-end productions you want will make accommodations for your unique talents… but either way, good job having your priorities straight!

  2. breepics says:

    Alternate Post Title: How I got an offer to serve G-d and why I took it up.
    Kol Hakavod!

  3. leora says:

    I have a great-grand father who had a store in Vienna that was closed on Shabbat(unheard of on those days) and open motzai shabat .As the story goes, long lines of customers waited for the doors to open Saturday at nightfall,(after Shabat)as they trusted his integrity..All he asked and allowed to be written on his grave was “here lies a strict Sabbath observer”-though there was plenty of other praises that could have been written.You are following in a long line of illustrious holy Jews-Ashrecha-May you see blessing and joy all your life……and a long illustrious line of descendants observing Shabbat and serving Hashem with joy.

  4. Yeah, it’s true. From a spiritual perspective – “No pain no gain!” (like it says in Ethics of the Fathers). It’s times like this when the true YOU comes out, otherwise what differentiates you from the rest?

  5. Chaim Goldman says:

    Appreciate you stance, but don’t you think the Shabbos discussion should have come up earlier in the negotiations? You know how much it costs for a crew, especially traveling to a remote location, so this should have been expected. ABC isn’t going to have everyone resting while out of the country, a 10-day production is a 10-day production; did you really think they would (or even that they should) change things for you? Whenever I am talking to anyone about doing a shoot, if it seems it involves weekend work, I always bring up Shabbat right away. It seems you wasted their time (looking at your work, sorting out the tech issues, etc) and yours by waiting until they already wanted you before “dropping the S-bomb”. Is that honoring to HaShem and how the producers think about Torah Jews? “Does this require Friday night and Saturday work?” and if so, “If I’m the right person for the job, is there anyway around that?” are questions that must be asked up-front. It’s a shame, but such is the way of the world.

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