Esther Alexandra Petrack was born on March 31, 1992, in Jerusalem, Israel, and is an Israeli-born, American fashion model. Petrack was a contestant on Cycle 15 of the American reality TV show America's Next Top Model. Petrack is a Modern Orthodox Jew from Boston, Massachusetts.
Petrack was born in Jerusalem, lived in France as a child, and was raised in Brookline, Massachusetts. She attended Maimonides School in Brookline, where she participated in running a Kosher soup kitchen. She told The Jewish Advocate that she missed her high school graduation because she was filming for the show while she told Maimonides that she was visiting relatives in France.
America's Next Top ModelEdit
Petrack applied to Cycle 15 of America's Next Top Model during her senior year of high school. She was featured in one of the first promotional advertisements for the show. The premiere of Cycle 15 was on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year; prior to the premiere, Petrack posted on her Facebook page that she would not be able to watch the premiere until two days later because of her observance of the holiday. Petrack ranked 7th out of 14 contestants.
ANTM and JudaismEdit
ANTM allowed Petrack to follow Judaism's food laws of Kosher; they allotted her a weekly budget to purchase food of her choice and disposable plates and cutlery. According to her mother, she "toveled" pots (Judaism's ritual to purify dishes made of certain materials) in the Pacific Ocean. In the episode of October 20, an entire segment was devoted to Esther's Judaism and the degree to which it differentiated her from the other girls. During the segment, Jane Randall asks her to say something in Hebrew (she responds, "Shmi Esther—"My name is Esther") and the camera zoomed on the cabinet marked, "Esther's Stuff," containing all of her Kosher materials. Some blogs favored her involvement, others did not.
Petrack has encountered much criticism from the Orthodox Jewish world for her participation on a show which is often thought to be detrimental to women's body image. Writers for the Tablet Magazine, The Jewish Chronicle, and Finkorswim.com were disappointed with Petrack's supposed response "I would do it" when Tyra Banks asked her whether she would forgo Sabbath observance to participate in the show. In addition, the administration of Petrack's alma mater, Maimonides School, was very critical of her participation in the show.
On October 19, 2010, Petrack's mother, Marina, responded to the accusations that her daughter would give up her religious observance for a spot on the show, calling the accusations "scandalous" and blaming the editing on America's Next Top Model for extracting four words, "I will do it," from a "long conversation about the principles and laws of shabbat and how Esther was planning to observe them."
As of June 2011, Petrack was working as a waitress in Jerusalem while studying Hebrew at Hebrew University. Although she had plans to continue her undergraduate studies in Barnard College for the fall of 2012, she has since immigrated permanently to Israel. She is now serving in the Israeli Army, the IDF. She was signed with the Israeli fashion agency A.D.D. and worked with Grip for its Winter 2010/2011 collection.