When Life Gives You Lemons…

By Stefanie Schwemlein

They say that when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade. The Tomulets—Tibi, Lidia, Emily, and Avi—have been handed quite a few lemons, and they have managed to make a substantial amount of lemonade from it. Both Tibi and Lidia endured persecution for their faith when they were young in Communist Romania. Having escaped to the United States, they built new lives and now have a loving family and strong bonds within the Messianic Jewish community. My project is focused on Avi, who is a fourth grader at George Watts Elementary.

At first as an awkward elephant in the room attempting to be a fly on the wall, and soon enough just as a friend with a camera, I followed Avi from school to synagogue to viola performances to home. Avi’s love for his family and his community, his academic and musical talent, and his curiosity about the world around him, are wonderfully refreshing. He thrives in the “freedom of learning” environment of the Montessori structure at George Watts, and he readily takes his excitement to learn far beyond the classroom. It was an absolute joy to experience and document Avi’s energy and excitement. I hope you enjoy this snapshot into his life!