Tobi Rubinstein has a long career in fashion, working with brands that include Victoria’s Secret and Nicole Miller.
She blends that world with her life as an ordained rabbi and Jewish mother in her book: “The House of Faith and Fashion: What My Wardrobe Taught Me about G-d.”
Ms. Rubinstein, 60, of New York and Miami, will lead a panel discussion, titled “Faith and Fashion,” at the Jersey City Day of Fashion on September 6. The sponsors of the all-day fashion celebration are the city, Mana Fashion Services, and Mana Contemporary, the former-warehouse-turned-art-center in Jersey City.
The day will showcase local designers and brands through exhibits, talks, fashion shows, parties, and networking opportunities.
The goal of Ms. Rubinstein’s book, she says, is to reveal God’s presence in fashion, jewelry, art, beauty, and style through the lens of Jewish teachings, therefore elevating each creative process to divine proportions. Her essays bring together fashion editors, international designers, artists, jewelers, influencers, and others who reveal much about their faith within the craft.
“I believe these two — faith and fashion — are fused together and they are not separate, meaning that fashion is not frivolous, vane and vapid, and faith is not entirely without beauty,” Ms. Rubinstein said.
Her second book, “Haute and Holy: The House of Faith and Fashion 2,” comes out on September 26. It promises to continue the exploration of the universal appeal of modesty in fashion and its seamless integration with faith. It’s billed as an enlightening journey into the intersection of fashion, spirituality, and personal expression.
Ms. Rubinstein’s 40 years in the fashion industry blends with her world as an Orthodox woman who is the product of a yeshiva background.
“I did a glass ceiling breaker and became a rabbi,” she said. “So I combine both of my loves together because I believe that this is my mission. It’s my calling.”
Her ordination is from the Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute Rabbinical School, an online seminary headed by Rabbi Steven Blane, who lived in
Bergen County for many years and was the cantor at
Congregation Beth Tikvah in New Milford for part of that time.
Surviving stage 4 uterine cancer set Ms. Rubinstein on the course that led to her finishing her first book, a process that put these two seemingly strange subjects together.
“What I’d like to say is that the world of fashion, and any creative spaces, owes a great gratitude to the original creator, and that’s God,” she said.
In her book, she cites the theme of the 2018 Met Gala, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” “It was absolutely beautiful and gorgeous and breathtaking. Nobody paid attention to the fact that all these things are inspired by God.”
Ms. Rubinstein has widened the door to include Christianity and Islam in her writing and speaking.
“The book is not necessarily targeted to modest fashion,” she said. “It’s trying to open up your eyes that God is present in all creative spaces. Modesty happens to be something that has a great commonality with Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. It’s not just a set of laws. It’s a mindset.
“As Jewish women, we are taught that we are the daughters of the king. There’s a certain majesty in the way we dress, in the way we behave. It’s not necessarily modesty, being oppressive or hiding or shameful or please don’t pay attention to me.
“I have turned that on its head, so that through education and commonality between religions, we really have a way of learning about each other. And when you learn about each other, there’s less hatred stemming from ignorance.”
Ms. Rubinstein noted that the panel discussion that she will lead for the Jersey City Day of Fashion will feature visuals on the costumes of Carrie Bradshaw from the second season of “And Just Like That.”
“The outfits that we’re showing are all modest,” she said. “Modesty is changing into a much more fashionable, exciting, beautiful enhancement.”
Ms. Rubinstein said that “fashion has become much more liberating that it ever was before. People are becoming much more expressive about themselves, and it’s more accepted to be that way.
“You can always adapt to what is a trend and make it work for you knowing that what you’re comfortable with in your practices of modesty. Modesty is now more popular than ever and it’s getting bigger.”
“On the runways in Paris, there are more people dressed than undressed. There’s a shift. There isn’t much left to take off. So, it’s now time we have to put it back on.
“I personally think modesty in fashion is great because it’s a much more powerful statement of femininity than completely unveiling yourself and leaving nothing left for anybody to figure out. There’s much more power in being dressed than undressed.”
For details and tickets to the Jersey City Day of
Fashion, go to https://fashion.manacommon.com/jc-dof.