Tu B’av Fashion Show Faux Pas?

by Brian on July 27, 2010

in Jewish Holidays and Culture,Just For Fun

Actress Sharon Fauster emcee'd a Tu B'av fashion show in Jerusalem

Tu B’av – the 15th day of the Jewish month of Av – is the closest Israelis have to a Valentine’s Day: just substitute a bit of ribald wisdom from the rabbis of the Talmud for a martyred Roman saint and a lot of cuddly Cupids. Tu B’av is the number one day for weddings in the Holy Land. It’s also a time for more general frivolity.

This week, the City of Jerusalem pulled out all the stops with a jam-packed evening of joyful Tu B’av events at the German Colony’s Beit Yehudit community and cultural center.

The evening featured a marathon of movies with “love” as a theme; a festive world music dance party put on by the Boogie organization; a provocative lecture entitled “Forbidden Love in the Talmud” by Dr. Micha Friedman; and a special concert of “love songs” by former Friends of Natasha co-founder and front man Micha Shitrit hosted by rocker Erez Lev-Ari.

The most popular event of the evening was the concert. An only-in-Jerusalem mix of secular and religious young adults (my wife Jody joked that we brought the average age of the crowd up by several percent) packed the grass to cheer on Lev-Ari who deftly blends spiritual and physical longing in his atmospheric compositions.

But before the show started, TV star Sharon Fauster, who plays the lovelorn Re’ut in the popular series Srugim about religious singles (in the very neighborhood where the event was taking place), took to the stage to introduce a Tu B’av-inspired “white” fashion show.

According to tradition (and Wikipedia), on Tu B’av, “unmarried girls would dress in simple white clothing (so that rich could not be distinguished from poor) and go out to sing and dance in the vineyards surrounding Jerusalem.” Young men who had not yet married would “go to watch and choose among them wives for themselves.”

Onto an improvised catwalk paraded four models in skimpy miniskirt and strapless ensembles. They preened and strutted, blowing kisses to the crowd and tossing back their heads of ample (and mostly blond) hair.

The audience was less sanguine. Many shifted uncomfortably. You could see some of the religious men (not the women, mind you) look around, avert their eyes and even get up to step out until the show was over. Others lapped it all up – Jerusalem doesn’t see a lot of long legged, high-heeled models strolling the Ben Yehuda Pedestrian Mall (they’d probably get stoned, and not in a Tel Aviv kind of way).

Then a strange thing happened: about half way through, the models started wearing scarves and jackets. The cleavage, which had been so abundant just moments before, was now obscured (although tastefully and still in white, in keeping with the evening’s Tu B’av theme).

Jody and I couldn’t figure it out. Was this part of the show? Or did someone run backstage brandishing fashionable cover-ups? Was this subtle religious coercion, along the lines of the Bridge of Strings debacle, where a pre-teen dance troop was forced to wear sweaters while going through their routines in order not to offend local sensibilities? Or was the point to demonstrate that Jerusalemites could be both sexy and modest at the same time?

Indeed, the scarves and jackets didn’t seem alien – in most cases, they served as nicely matching accessories rather than some hastily improvised capitulation.

We may never know (I’m not on a first name basis with Fauster…yet – I did try to friend her Facebook). So I can only report what I saw from first hand observation – and, oh yes, I stayed firmly in my seat, eyes forward.

I first blogged about this event over at Israelity.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Benji Lovitt July 27, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Dammit-why do I always find out about these events after the fact?

2 Mick July 28, 2010 at 9:03 am

Maybe it was some kind of reverse ‘take it off’ thing, to show how elegant scarves can be attractive too? Doesn’t sound like it was improvised/coerced. How were Micha Shitrit and Erez Lev Ari?

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