Is Esther Petrack Jewish?

Yes, model Esther Petrack is a Jew from Brookline, MA. She was born in Jerusalem, brought up Orthodox and attended the Maimonides school.

Esther, now all of 18, is a contestant on a TV show which up to now we have not seen, America's Next Top Model.

Tyra Banks, a host on the show, put her on the spot, asking her if she would work on the Sabbath, if her competition required that. She said she would.

An article on Tablet calls all of this a "Modern Orthodox Drama" and terms Esther's answer a "blow... to the Modern Orthodox experiment."

And a rabbi in Israel chimes in to say it indicates, "a serious malaise in Modern Orthodoxy." He adds that it means the community has, "accepted the Western illusion that we can 'have it all.'"

The rabbi cites my teacher Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, who preached that Orthodox Judaism demands of its members a "sacrificial and heroic existence."

We say to both these critics, whoa, don't get your panties in such a twist over this! (Always wanted to say that, and it seems apt here, in light of the modeling context and all.)

Snap Talmudic analysis:

Let's not even start a debate over which is the illusion or who are the heroes.

The occasional actions of individuals ought never be framed as challenges to a great and abiding religious system. Those decisions are indications that we Jews, like all other peoples are constituted of many kinds of people and personalities.

To opine that conformity ought to be total is deliberately to ignore the record, from the ye olde bible, through the ages, and now to the Next Top Model.

We think young Esther is no illusion; she is a vision. She is quite a super-hero and we applaud her efforts and her honesty, and we hope she wins.

Added video:


Jeffrey Woolf said...

Spare me....

Henry Frisch said...

I believe I saw a denial that she had actually said she would violate Shabbos--that it was an editing trick.