Fashionable and Fun: NCSY’s Project Frumway

05 Mar 2011


It was not your typical fashion show, in which one design seems to be more outrageous than the next. This was Project Frumway, an annual initiative of New York NCSY | Jewish Youth Leadership, which enabled young women to engage in a fashion design competition to create the most fashionable and tznuit outfit. To be tzniut, the outfit had to conform to the Jewish laws of modesty.

Seventy models representing nine yeshivot from across the New York Region were represented, including HALB, SKA, HAFTR, Shalhevet, Shulamis, Mercaz, TAG and YCQ.
The winner was Ruchie Gross, 15, of Yeshiva University High School for Girls – Central — whose winning outfit was created by a local designer and modeled on the runway by her friend, Tali Golubtchick, as 450 enthralled young women and family members and friends – all female – watched.

“When people ask me to explain what Project Frumway is all about, my answer is ‘a place where great fashion and modesty can co-exist and one does not have to compromise on either,’” declared Carol Rhine, the Chief Operating Officer of New York NCSY and Project Frumway Coordinator.

“Most people relate to modesty as “tzniut.” Unfortunately, we think of tzniut as a ‘dress code.’ In addition, unfortunately, it has the connotation of “restrictions,” Mrs. Rhine said. “Tzniut is more than what we can or cannot wear. Clothing is the first thing that people see and so it plays an important role in our everyday lives. Your clothing affects how YOU see yourself. When you get dressed, you put on a “self-image.” People respond to that “self-image.” So your dress, how others react to you and how you see yourself all affect each other and shape who you become.

“But clothing has to REFLECT the real you, not REPLACE you. It all starts by knowing that you are a neshama, a soul that Hashem created. And each soul is unique and special. We each have our own special place in this world. And tzniut is the perfect way to bring out who we are, and our inner beauty. We are all searching for our own identity. Tzniut is more than what we are – it is WHO we are and it is the key to our personal growth. Tzniut should be understood by ‘living it.’

“Today tzniut is a tremendous challenge,” Carol Rhine declared. “May each of us step up and meet that challenge so that our uniqueness can shine through.”

At the show, NCSY International President Amanda Esraeilian of Roslyn and Pamela Goldberg of Smithtown West High School were honored with the Young Woman Leadership Award. A week before Frumway, Amanda, a senior at Roslyn High School, visited some yeshiva high schools. She told students from HANC, HALB, SKA and Shalhevet how she takes it on herself to dress tzanua all the time and was extremely well received in each school by the principals, teachers and students.

The popular California-born entertainer Shaindel Antelis sang about being modest in an immodest world and staying true to our beliefs as Jewish women. When it was all over, many of the girls asked to be signed up for next year’s Project Frumway.

Project Frumway is a fundraiser, with proceeds to benefit NCSY, to support its work that teaches Jewish teens about their heritage and promotes youth leadership and responsibility. Funds raised help to facilitate scholarships for students to attend schools and programs that provide leadership training, Judaic studies, and Israel advocacy post-high school.

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