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What Tel Aviv Fashion Week Taught Me About Being Jew-ish

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    Photo: Courtesy of Emily Holland.


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    Like the joke goes, I consider myself Jew-ish — I was raised in a Jewish household in Texas and went to Hebrew School until I was Bat Mitzvahed when I was 12. My family celebrates the important holidays at our local Synagogue. But after my Bat Mitzvah, the importance of religion in my life started to dwindle. I still lived for the gatherings that had my entire extended family laughing and reciting prayers in butchered Hebrew around the dinner table, but any spirituality beyond that was replaced with school, art, my social life, and eventually moving to New York to pursue a career in fashion.

    Judaism, for me, became more about the culture and traditions and less about faith. But the longer I stayed in New York, the less I was able to travel home for the traditional Passover seder. While fasting on Yom Kippur was a family affair growing up, I stopped doing it when it was just me in the city. But as I move from my 20s and into my 30s, I’m recognizing a desire to connect with my roots and explore Judaism in a context outside of just my family traditions.

    For these reasons, I’ve always wanted to go to Israel. When I was asked to attend Tel Aviv Fashion Week, I jumped at the chance. Never did I imagine I’d be traveling to learn more about my culture and heritage because of the same thing that replaced Judaism in my life — my career. The world I knew and the one I longed to understand were suddenly intersecting in a totally serendipitous way.

    I spent seven days in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Exploring both cities gave me such a rich cultural experience that I could have never understood from just watching the news — from the historic Old City in Jerusalem, where three of the biggest religions in the world converged, to the insanely magical Dead Sea; the cosmopolitan streets of Tel Aviv and the tremendous creativity in its Fashion Week. We wandered through a courtyard gathering on Shabbat where what seemed like an entire community was dancing, singing, eating, and just hanging out as one. Similarly, while Tel Aviv Fashion Week was a blip on the industry’s radar, for the creatives based there, it was a production of epic proportions, showcasing over 20 designers and bringing together editors from around the world.

    Ahead, see some of the highlights of my trip, a journey that ended up being as personal as it was professional, to a destination where the fashion is as inspiring as the heritage sites it was designed among.

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  2. Photo: Courtesy of Emily Holland.


  3. Photo: Courtesy of Emily Holland.


  4. Photo: Courtesy of Emily Holland.


  5. Photo: Courtesy of Emily Holland.


  6. Photo: Courtesy of Emily Holland.