“Model” Seder

For me, the term “Model Seder” conjures up vivid memories of my childhood in northern California at the South Peninsula Hebrew Day School. We would practice our scripted parts for weeks, until that glorious day when our parents and grandparents would fill the MPR (multipurpose room) filled with anticipation, only to plug their ears when we performed the song in which Moses pleads to Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery and we’d  shout in unison at the top of our lungs (twice!)  “NO, NO, NO! I WILL NOT LET THEM GO!”

This week the word “model” came back into my life, just a few days before the “seder”. My boss at WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organization) assigned me a very “tough” assignment – to tag along with a group of 20 Israeli models from ITM, one of Israel’s leading modeling agencies, as they visited a WIZO women’s shelter. The “shidduch” between ITM and WIZO was made from New York via WIZO USA Co-President Mireille M. Manocherian and ITM’s International Director Danielle Cohen.

Because the women and children at the shelter could not be photographed for safety reasons, I really could only photograph the models…and also film them.

Models Visit WIZO Shelter

A "model" to be emulated.Today 20 Israeli models (including Serlina featured in this video), from the ITM modeling agency visited one of WIZO's women shelters, providing makeup and styling for the women there and fun activities for their children. The visit was a joint effort by ITM and WIZO USA. Stay tuned for more on this special visit coming soon.WIZO New York WIZO Florida WIZO Los Angeles

פורסם על ידי ‏‎World WIZO‎‏ ב- יום ראשון, 14 באפריל 2019

So at least for one day I felt a little bit like fashion model photographer Austin Powers


While some of the models played with the children living at the shelter (having fun with balloons, making tie-dye t-shirts with them, etc.) the others joined ITM’s makeup specialists in giving the women of the shelter styling and makeup tips.

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One of ITM’s makeup specialists demonstrates techniques on her partner

At the end of the evening the residents of the shelter enjoyed a delicious (catered) dinner that the models brought (consisting of sushi and schnitzel).

I watched the models eat (yes, they do eat). I guess this dinner was a sort of “MODEL seder”, with the accent on the “model” part . I wondered to myself what a seder consisting of fashion models would be like? I always pictured them taking a bite of the parsley (karpas) and declaring, “I am so full! I can’t eat anything more tonight.”

But all kidding aside I learned something very important from this “model seder”. At the Passover Seder we read the following passage in the  Haggadah:

“In every generation, each person must look inward as though they personally were among those who went forth from Egypt.”

How does this relate to what I witnessed this week? Did the models I met each  look inward and identify with the women and children in the WIZO women’s shelter to such a degree?

Although I  cannot speak for the models (not as a spokesperson, nor as a “spokesmodel”)  , I did observe how much these young ladies, including one model with over 1.2 million Instagram followers, connected with the women and children at the shelter. However, I don’t think it’s really possible (nor is it reasonable to expect them to) feel exactly what the shelter residents have gone through unless they had been in their shoes.

However, the reverse just might true. Maybe for just a brief instant, the residents of the shelter, who got pampered by the models, got to really feel like models for one afternoon.

At one point, an Ethiopian girl who lives at the shelter with her mother and siblings asked one of the models, “Are you Ethiopian?”

When the model answered “Yes“, a huge smile came over the little girl’s face.

Now that’s what I call a “model”, in every sense of the word.

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All the models in a group photo

Chag Sameach!

About the Author
I am the new Head of English Content at World WIZO (Women's International Zionist Organization) in Tel Aviv. As a male working for WIZO (also known as a "MIZO") I am in a very distinct minority. In this blog I hope to share my many eye-opening experiences at WIZO. Everything from firsthand accounts of visits to WIZO day care centers and youth villages to observing International Women's Day for the first time in my life.
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