A leading voice in Israeli Modern Orthodoxy has sharply criticized a fashion show, which included a catwalk featuring scantily-clad models, held in a Tel Aviv synagogue on Wednesday, NRG News said.
Cherlow is the dean of the Yeshivat Hesder Petah Tikva in Petah Tikva, and is considered a moderate, liberal voice among his peers. He is co-founder of Tzohar, a rabbinic activist group that seeks to strengthen Jewish identity and ease tensions between religious and secular Israelis.
However, “This is crossing a line that is not appropriate under any circumstances,” Cherlow said of the event, organized by designer Mili Dahan.
During the fashion show, which was held on a weekday, the choir sang a traditional sacred melody meant to be recited only during the Sabbath.
A lawyer for US-born Rabbi Ariel Konstantyn, who founded the synagogue – which bills itself as offering “innovative spiritual, cultural, social educational programs in an environment of warmth, acceptance and mutual respect,” – echoed Cherlow’s words.
“The rabbi’s goal was to bring people together,” Doron Shmueli said. However, “An unfortunate situation occurred that should not have, but his goal was a positive one,” Haaretz quoted him as saying.
Cherlow characterized Konstantyn as “a dear Jew who has undertaken an enormous task – to ‘walk the line between camps’ in a wide range of settings (ultra-Orthodox, religious, traditional, etc.), and create a place where the synagogue is indeed a gathering place of all; everyone has a place there, and it is conducted according to Jewish law.”
But, he added, “Whoever does anything – let alone those who are working at the interface – make mistakes. Even mistakes one should not make, and consenting to a fashion show in a synagogue is a serious mistake.”
Cherlow said that in his view the organizers took advantage of what they took to be Konstantyn’s naivete, “for various reasons ranging from wickedness to alternate ideas of the meaning of the word, ‘modest.’”
According to him, the event itself, in the end, was “an awful manifestation, on the plane between man and God, respect within a synagogue, and humans toward one another.”
Watch a video clip of the fashion show: