I am not and never have been an Orthodox Jew. I’ve also never been a fashion model.

So, I’m not here to pass judgment on Esther Petrack. But, I couldn’t help but cringe a little when this 18-year-old Modern Orthodox woman told Tyra Banks that she’d ditch her Sabbath observance in order to become America’s Next Top Model.

What’s interesting to me is that I’m seeing a variety of reactions around the web. Some support her decision to be open about her religious struggles. Others see nothing redeeming about her decision to dump the Sabbath in favor of a career in modeling.

You can judge for yourself by watching the clip below. A word of warning: the judges ask Esther about her breast size and, well, she shows them how big they really are.

For more on this riveting reality TV controversy, see Tablet magazine’s “‘ANTM’ Contestant To Forego Observance.” Well you can always just enjoy checking out all the clothes and accessories I guess.

About the author

steve

32 Comments

  • I would forego the Sabbath for a pair of those slacks! But really… I think there is a commandment against wearing pants in those colours and that pattern

  • Dear Esther… If you don;t get ANTM, please come to NYC and appear in my documentary about America’s Bra Fitters, those older woman who help younger woemn find the correct bra size

  • OK, so like, there are sooooo many problems with this clip, I totally don’t know where to start, so, like, whatever. And the whole Shabbat thingo? It’s like so natural or whatever that she like said what she said, you know? Because nothing is really serious or authentic, you know? Except um, the authentic G’s, and that bra, which is like TOTALLY serious (and whoever fitted her, btw, a genious, I concur.)

  • Sounds to me like she thinks that a model can work on shabbos because they won’t be doing anything that requires breaking shabbos. Just putting on clothes and walking… right? 🙂

  • @gest I actually had no idea that models were in demand seven days a week. That may have been the most shocking part of the clip.

  • I think it’s rad that she’s putting herself out there. She didn’t go on the show to make kugel and go “tee hee hee I just want to be a good Jewish wife and wrap my hair so no men will want to jump over the mechitzah and rape me during Ma’ariv.”

    No one at 18 should be required to have life, G-d, and all the other big questions all figured out.

    • Rad? It’s cringe inducing Patrick. Understandably so. I mean Esther can do what she likes, it’s her right. But to see anyone, let alone the product of a very expensive Jewish day school education, so flippantly give up 1000s of years of Jewish history and tradition for the possibility of a job in an industry as craven and vacuous as fashion modeling, well… I don’t have to like it. No one does. And her age is no bar to criticism. She’s 18 not 11.

  • Ya know – the clip doesn’t show her identifying as Modern Orthodox. Rather, she just responds to the question about her being *raised* Modern Orthodox. If words have any meaning, it would seem she does not self-identify as any sort of orthodox, but rather as having that background and, when it suits her, keeping Shabbat. So nu? Is that so wrong?

    Otherwise, it strikes me there may yet need to be another branch of Judaism called “Ultra-Modern Orthodox.”

  • Look…those gs aren’t going to be sitting that high forever. Give the girl a break…she’s cashing in while she can.

  • look at you people jumping on her

    just because she shose modeling over her jewish traditions

    but if christians choose christian values instead of hollywood,Mtv etc pop culture shit they are labeled as hicks

    if an arab chooses arabic dress and rituals over western crap in israel, he is called all sorts of names

    it seems youu jews have a double standard for everything, typical really

  • hey ck, do you know that most of the big names in hollywood are jewish right

    in america its cool to be anti christian, and recently anti muslim, but if you in some way reject jewish culture you are labeled as an anti semite

    oksana who is jewish herself knowingly married famous “anti semite”(lol) mel gibson, know she is trying to blackmail him by releasing a stupid audiotape to the media

    jews, hypocrites extroadinaire, didnt oksana know that ol mel wasnt particularly fond of jews?

  • to all the people reading this blog, wanna know how to be cool?

    just bash muslims on live tv, look at sarah palin, a functionally retarded person who lost an election now rises to prominence by bashing muslims for trying to build a mosque 2 blocks from ground zero

  • lol – your first comment may have been thought provoking, but i fail to see how insulting all jews is of any intellectual value. please refrain from displaying your barely masked hatred. thank you.

  • dahlia, christians and muslims are hypocrites too, but the main difference is that it is acceptable to insult christians in mainstream culture, its called “being progressive”

    as for muslims, they are even more hated, terrorism blah blah

    but if anyone and i mean anyone insults any jew the whole fucking media picks it up, it seems the jews are above ridicule and that is the real tragedy, not to mention nauseating

  • Gah…way too harsh. if an orthodox athlete (I’m thinking of a junior hockey player in QC)considers breaking Shabbat if he were to get drafted into the NHL, no one cares, it’s the price he has to pay etc, and I mean, MY GOD, a Jewish athlete!…what’s the big deal here, just because it’s modeling? that’s her choice and none of our business. Is it her fault that Jewish education fails so miserably?? If she could “so flippantly give up 1000s of years of Jewish history” I guess all that education didn’t leave the lasting impact expected…y’all should keep trying though, to impact the kiddies. more summer camps?

  • OK, you care and you don’t like it, but is it any of your business? I love you and everything you do, but I think you are being too judgmental. She’s 18 and was put on the spot. I say stupider shit every day. If she was a bit older and wiser, maybe she would never have mentioned religion at all. Then everyone would just think it was cool that there was a Jew on America’s Next Top Model. Same way I thought it was cool that there was an Israeli on Gordon Ramsey’s “Master Chef”, even though, horror of horrors, he used BACON in his dishes…

    • Is it my business? I just honestly conveyed what I felt. Her parents, like our parents, sent her to very expensive Jewish Day Schools. She didn’t just self identify as a Jew, she self-identified as a Modern Orthodox Jew. She’s entitled to determine what that means in her life all she likes, I don’t begrudge her that right. But I’m entitled to cringe at her willingness to toss out everything she was ever taught and every value the term “Modern Orthodox” means in a moment, for the sake of fashion. I’m entitled to my feelings aren’t I?

  • I am entitled to feeling that you should be more generous and less judgy with your feelings. 😛

    • I thought you’d play along tiffy: surly, burly, curly – what next? I was guessing maybe early but then you stopped playing

      🙁

  • also: day school, schmay school. I had a great time but clearly it ain’t enough. I’m still grappling with no dinosaurs, god, no dinosaurs, modesty, purity, the age of the earth, creation, maybe no evolution, blah blah. I know the drill, modern orthodoxy can make it all gel, more blah blah. you can express your gratitude to Hebrew Academy for my tight writing style.

  • I am Esther Petrack’s mother. Most comments here are quite friendly and I appreciate them but I still feel the need to clarify a few points.

    The fateful 4 words “I will do it” in answer to a question about working on shabbat, were the result of EDITING. Esther never said, meant, or did give up shabbat for the sake of appearing on a tv show. They were extracted from a long conversation Esther had about the laws of shabbat and the principles governing them and how she was planning to keep them while on the show. The producers then cut out these 4 words to create a more scandalous storyline. Careful viewers can actually see and hear that the words are edited; and I would have hoped that non careful viewers would have given her the benefit of the doubt…

    Esther remained and remains committed to Orthodox Judaism and I have to say, I am very happy about that!

  • who cares whether or not she’s a role model or not ??
    she’s a model you bunch of self righteous morons !
    so what – someone is in the public eye so they must now be a role model for some cause/faith or other ?!!

    BULLSHIT !!

    let her get on with her life and keep your stupid judgements to yourself.

    all I really care about is getting to suck on all that wonderful, succulent, meaty, GG cup breastflesh !!……and failing that….hope she makes a career in porn if the fashion modelling doesnt work out because sexUALLY SPEAKING….she is SUPERHOT !!!!!!

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