Mr. Rocha out of the blue discovered himself braving a Quebec winter, jobless, remoted and unable to talk French. After an initially rocky adjustment, he proposed to Sonia at a teahouse, hiding a $150 ring in a teacup. He mentioned he discovered a way of objective after Sonia’s aunt, who labored within the Shaar’s kitchen, helped get him the janitor job.

He felt instantly at dwelling on the synagogue, he mentioned, and was notably drawn by the non secular which means of a bar or bat mitzvah, the ceremony of passage wherein a boy or lady affirms a dedication to Judaism. He would generally pause from vacuuming to take a seat within the pews and hear, entranced, to Cantor Zelermyer’s haunting voice singing prayers.

“I’m a baptized Catholic, however in a synagogue I really feel a really robust connection, one thing talks to me,” he mentioned.

It was whereas dusting the pews and observing bar mitzvah photographers at work that the thought first entered his head that photographing bar mitzvahs was his “future.”

“I might see the photographers standing too near the bar mitzvah boy, and the voice in my head could be saying: ‘No, no, no, it’s all flawed. You have got God providing you with this mild, and also you aren’t doing something with it,’” he recalled. “However I used to be the janitor, so I stored dusting.”

Then got here the bris epiphany.

The grandmother was so delighted with the ensuing moody, cinematic pictures that she paid him $130 for the job, an enchancment on his $10-an-hour janitor wage.

Emboldened, Mr. Rocha requested the synagogue’s administration if he may shoot different occasions. Inside two years, he was photographing weddings and bar mitzvahs, for as a lot as $8,000, and, for some time, altering afterward into his janitor’s uniform to wash bathrooms. Typically he labored such lengthy days he slept on a synagogue pew.