By Deb Silverthorn
It’s taking more than “say cheese” to make most smile during the coronavirus pandemic. Photographer Rachel Lankri is making smiles happen throughout the community, all the while raising money for those in need. Participating in what has become known as the Front Porch Project, Lankri, in April, made a $5,000 donation to the North Texas Food Bank.
“I was watching the news and saw lines of people waiting hours for food and it tugged at my heart. I was raised in a family giving tzedakah and I knew I could give through photography,” said Lankri, for whom giving the gift, reaching way beyond any goal, was the best part of her birthday April 28. “I started out taking a few photos, but there was so much response that I just kept adding days.”
Lankri, through her Addison studio, has photographed products and portraits, simchas and sentimental moments. She is finding a way to capture this season.
“I love spontaneous and this is perfect. Some people are dressing up, but many are staying ‘as is,’ casual and on-the-fly,” said Lankri. Word of her 15- to 20-minute short photoshoots spread quickly.
Jordona Kohn, co-owner of The Market, had arrived home just hours before Shabbat when Lankri called, saying she was early for another appointment and could take the Kohn family photos right away.
“I was a mess; flour everywhere, wrestling kids and getting ready for Shabbos but I realized that’s the whole point of what Rachel was doing, capturing what ‘this’ is and for us, it’s the crazy,” said Kohn. “It was fun, it was silly and it was beautiful and she really did capture our family — all that we are.”
Unable to charge for her services, her studio not considered “essential,” Lankri asked her subjects to make a donation, whatever they could. The 76 families who participated came close to reaching $5,000; Lankri and her family filled in the last couple of hundred dollars.
“Each $1 donation to the North Texas Food Bank provides access to three meals for hungry North Texans,” said NTFB Senior Director of Marketing and Communications Anna Kurian. The agency has given out more than 11 million pounds of food since March 15. “Rachel’s donation will help provide 15,000 meals. Everything about how we are working right now is atypical but we are grateful to those who are using their talents to help those who are hungry.”
Lankri, who as of May 1 was able to return to work, couldn’t put down her traveling lens. She is still shooting pictures on front porches, making her next donation to Jewish Family Services.
Lankri, a graduate of J.J. Pearce High School and former Weinstein chapter member of BBYO, is the daughter of Magi and Yehuda Katav, and sister of Tammy Diamond.
Before leaving on a Birthright Israel trip, Lankri (then Katav) created a J-Date profile and while at the Kotel, she prayed to someday meet a good man and build a family. The very next day she was contacted through the app by Tomer, an Israeli who had moved to Dallas. The two met the night she returned home, and married a year later.
Now the parents of Daniella, Michael and Yehuda, they, like others, are juggling schooling, working, playing, praying and living — all at home. Lankri, laughs as she recalls checking with “Siri” on how to draw a lizard for her first-grader. “It isn’t easy, but we’re trying to laugh and to remember stories that will let us look back on the positive.”
To contact Rachel Lankri, email rachellankri
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Rachel Lankri
Photography on Facebook.