Model Hava Mond still recites her morning prayer each day before going off to a fashion shoot. Safed-born religious beauty, who refuses to pose in swimwear or underwear, says despite demanding lifestyle, she hasn't changed
When Hava Mond wakes up in the morning she washes her hands, says her morning prayers and only then gets ready to go to work. Her daily routine is tough and demanding, and being far from home doesn't make it any easier. She usually doesn't have the time to pray during the day, so in order to fulfill the religious laws she recites the evening prayer at the end of her working day.
In the hours between reciting the Morning Prayer and fulfilling the mitzvah of Kri'at Shma at night, Mond, 23, faces the camera modeling for leading international fashion companies. As a religious girl, Mond has very strict red lines which she will not compromise on, yet this doesn't prevent the flow of international modeling offers from pouring in. Mond, for those who are not familiar with her, is among Israel's top 10 models working in Israel and abroad.
Mond is currently modeling in Europe and over the past three years she participated in fashion shows by top designers such as Channel, Yves Saint Laurent and modeled for top notch designers such as Armani and L'Oreal, as well as appearing on the covers of Vogue and Glamour. She has succeeded in doing all this without having to pose in swimwear or underwear, without working on Shabbat and holidays and with eating only kosher food.
Mond was raised Safed and as a daughter of a religious family was enrolled at the city's religious girls' school. She never dreamed of becoming a model, but rather hoped to study law and become an attorney. Yet, at 16-years-of age while traveling in London with her aunt she was approached by an agent from the Select modeling agency who offered her a job.
She refused, saying that she was religious and that she hadn't completed her high school studies. The modeling agency waited until she turned 18. Mond completed her national service and only then embarked on her meteoric modeling career.
How does a religious girl make the switch to a life of glamour?
"For me it doesn't really make a difference, I have stayed who I am. I was always in the middle, and if I don’t feel at ease or good about something, I don't do it."
You are often asked to pose with low cleavage, is that a problem for you?
"No, my appearance is very misleading, I have my red lines. On the one hand I manage with low cleavages and I even wear short skirts, but on the other hand I pray in the mornings and usually in the evenings as well. The fact that a girl is covered from head to toe doesn't make her better or more religious than I am . Ultimately, what counts is your conduct and what's inside. Who knows, perhaps I am more diligent than other girls in some things."
Does the society you come from accept your lifestyle and the fact that you are a top model?
"My friends obviously do. But I get a lot of negative responses. At first I used to take offense, but I got used to it. To say "she isn't religious" is easy, but it stems from lack of understanding. They don't know what it's like to turn down a high paying campaign because I don't model on Shabbat, and when everyone eats I don't touch a thing all day because it's not kosher.
What would you say to religious girls who would like to enter the modeling world?
"Parents of girls who wanted to model contacted me, and I think it depends on the girl's personality, how strong she is and how she can withstand the numerous temptations. But if you really want something in life, it's possible."
Mond spoke of how she turned down a campaign for a perfume by Rimmel because it was filmed in Turkey on a Saturday, Kate Moss ended up getting the campaign. She also spoke of how her mother used to accompany her on photo shoots when she first started out – just to keep an eye on her. As to the frequent flights that are part of the business Mond says she has an apartment in London where her grandparents live, her agent is there and so is her boyfriend. Yet nonetheless, she says, she comes to Israel for every religious holiday, to meet friends and to celebrate with the family.