Friday, January 28, 2022

Paramus—If there was a mirror on the wall at the Frisch Fashion Show and Dance Performance, Sunday May 19, the fairest of them all would be…all the girls who modeled, danced and created an art exhibit for the event.

Mrs. Tikvah Weiner, Coordinator of Interdisciplinary Studies and Mrs.Ahuva Mantell, Art Teacher, directed the program titled Who’s the Fairest of them All: Fair Food. Fair Trade. Fair World. The evening included boutiques with items for sale that focused on eco-friendly and fair trade practices. Mrs. Weiner said the theme was chosen to reflect values that are important to the students. “We like to look good and feel good but we have to present ourselves to the world in an ethical way.”

The models wore clothes from Ezra’s Closet, a service of Project Ezrah, an organization helping unemployed people in the Jewish community find jobs. Ezrah’s Closet accepts donations of fashionable, gently used clothing that their clients have access to free of charge. They are beginning to arrange boutiques at schools, like the one set up at Frisch, where girls whose parents might be struggling economically can enjoy shopping together and purchase clothing for a minimal amount.

The fashions were chosen to represent biblical stories. As explained by a narrator, one group of freshmen wore animal prints, suggestive of being in Gan Eden. A group of seniors dressed in gowns recalling Esther’s trial in Achashveros’ beauty pageant. The dancers also tied their performances to Jewish themes. One routine imagined Esther’s fight against an unjust world, while another showed the courage of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Mrs. Weiner said looking for links is part of the mission of Real School, the Frisch organization that coordinated the show. “We look to collaborate with groups in the school. The students learn by doing and many were interested in social entrepreneurship. Our assessment is—did the event happen.” This year Real School is a club but next year it will be an academic elective.

Mrs. Mantell worked with her AP Studio Art class to create an exhibit for the show modeled on artist Judy Chicago’s installation The Dinner Party. Chicago created 39 place settings on a triangular table, 48 feet long on each side, each representing a mythical or historical woman noted for an academic or cultural achievement. Continuing the women’s empowerment theme, Mrs. Mantell asked her students to choose and research a Jewish woman and create a setting using plates and trays from the Frisch cafeteria. A wide range of settings represented women such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Estee Lauder.

A portion of the proceeds from show will benefit the Somaly Mam Foundation, a nonprofit group working to end enslavement of women in Southeast Asia and help the survivors they free return to society. Ariel Siegal, Program Manager for the Foundation and a family friend of one of the student performers, was on hand to sell copies of Somaly Mam’s autobiography, The Road of Lost Innocence and silk beaded necklaces made by women Mam has rescued.

“We wanted to create an event with an authentic purpose,” Mrs. Weiner said. “Helping women who are trapped while we are free really resonated with me.”

By Bracha Schwartz

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