How a Fashion Journalist Found Her Way to Orthodox Judaism

The lifestyle of an Orthodox Jew may seem like an odd choice for someone with the title of “beauty and lifestyle director” at a high-end fashion magazine, but this was the choice made by Jessica Diner in 2013, when she underwent a conversion. She describes the journey to Judaism as “three years of study preceded by two years of careful reflection,” requiring “immeasurable patience and immense love,” all made possible by “a lifetime of subconscious preparation.”

I chose to do an Orthodox conversion—a process that you have to want to embark on from the depths of your soul. It requires dedication and desire beyond any [romantic] relationship. . . . As dramatic as it sounds, this was my destiny.

A conversion to Judaism sees you learn and live all aspects of Jewish life. There is no masking the fact that it is a huge transition. I was still maintaining my job at Vogue, and the continuity of work that I adore grounded my experience—a typical week could see me going from backstage at London Fashion Week in the day to three hours with my Jewish- studies teacher that night.

Observing the Sabbath in the early days of the conversion seemed like such an insurmountable notion, too. Downing tools and going offline for 25 hours each week? An impossible task for someone with a busy work and social life. But as with every part of the process, it slowly infused into my everyday. The Sabbath is a time for self-reflection and to connect exclusively with friends and family. . . . When people find out I have converted, they are always intrigued about what they perceive to be restrictions, not realizing the positive reinforcement that these traditions bring. I genuinely can’t envisage life any other way.

Diner reckons as well with the less appealing consequence:

My son’s Jewish primary school has security guards and surveillance at the gate; I am fearful for my husband and oldest son walking to synagogue on Saturday mornings wearing their kippahs; and the community has security walkthroughs in advance of significant Jewish holidays in case of an attack—all poignant reminders that the world we live in now, for all its wokeness, still poses a simmering threat to the Jewish community.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Vogue

More about: Anti-Semitism, Conversion, Judaism, Shabbat

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy