So Esther, of ‘ANTM,’ Is Observing After All
Modern Orthodox contestant keeps Shabbat, says mom
Not even modeltestants work seven days a week. Marina Petrack, mother to America’s Next Top Model’s Modern Orthodox Jew, Esther, has announced “The fateful words ‘I will do it’ in an answer to the question about working on Shabbat were the result of editing,” she wrote. “Esther never meant or said that she would give up Shabbat for the show, neither did she do it. These words were taken from a long conversation about the principles and laws of Shabbat and how Esther was planning to observe them. The producers cut out these 4 words to create a more scandalous storyline; judging from the amount of reaction, they were quite successful!”
Marina goes on to say that she had hoped that Jewish viewers would give her daughter the benefit of the doubt. Since when have people watching reality television given anyone the benefit of the doubt? These types of shows are about not giving people the benefit of the doubt!
I think Mrs. Petrack was motivated to speak out by more than a desire to defend her daughter. I believe it stems from the concept of “mareet ayin,” or “perception.” Specifically, this principle concerns not doing things that on the surface might appear to be against Jewish law, even if no rules are actually broken. One example I was frequently given growing up was entering McDonald’s to use the restroom: My teachers taught us that we should first check to see if there were other Jews around before we ducked inside, since we, in our sweeping skirts and long-sleeved shirts, were outwardly and obviously observant Jews, and, “What if someone sees you go inside and now assumes it’s permissible to eat at McDonald’s?” So perhaps Mrs. Petrack’s defense is intended to keep others from thinking that modeling or strutting on the Sabbath is permitted.
But mareet ayin is also a way of saying, “What will the neighbors think?” The neighbors weren’t going to eat at McDonald’s just because they saw me leave one; but they might think that I had sat down, eaten, and sinned. And in Esther Petrack’s case, the “neighbors” aren’t just the good people of Brookline, Massachusetts; they are a national audience of millions. That’s a pretty big “perception.”
Esther Petrack’s Mother Speaks: Esther Is observant, It Was All Editing [Pacific Jewish Center]
Earlier: Episode 5: Walkin’ Down the Street
Episode 4: Unkosher Scuba
Episode 3: In The Arms of an Angel
Interlude: Should Esther Be on ‘ANTM’?
Episode 2: Unhealthy Bullying
Episode 1: ‘ANTM’ Contestant To Forego Observance
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.