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.

Read more at Vogue

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


The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7