By COLlive reporter
Mrs. Sarah Mendelsohn, Principal of Bais Yaakov Ohel Sarah in Brooklyn, NY, was intrigued earlier this year when she read about a change to the attire of the British royals.
In a report, quoted on COLlive.com, Queen Elizabeth II requested that her grandson’s wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, dress in a manner befitting her status as the wife of one heir to the throne and the mother of another.
“This forms part of a deliberate move to shift the Duchess’ image from High Street to high end, timeless Royal elegance – without losing her freshness and informality,” writes the Daily Mail.
Mrs. Mendelsohn said she saw this in line with the interpretation of our Sages on Psalms 45:14, “All the glory of a princess is within” which refers to tzniut (modesty).
“The implication is that such modesty is both in dress and demeanor of the Jewish woman,” she says. “In addition to a vibrant and demanding educational program, tznius happens to be a cornerstone of the educational program at our school.”
The article regarding The Queen and Duchess Kate served as the basis of exciting discussion in the school. “The regal bearing of The Queen has always been highlighted by the modesty and dignity of her dress code,” she says.
The upshot was that the girls decided to write a combined letter to The Queen, with a cover letter from Mrs. Mendelsohn.
In their letter the girls declared, “Your Majesty, you are an inspiration to us all.” They also asked for The Queen’s thoughts on modesty. Not sure whether there would be a royal response, the girls mailed their letter.
To their happy surprise they recently received a reply from The Queen, penned by her Senior Correspondence Officer (SCO).
Apparently, while The Queen is certainly modest in her dress and conduct, it is clear that the subject of modesty is a sensitive one, especially in the royal family, and it is “not a matter on which Her Majesty would personally comment.”
At the same time the SCO conveyed The Queen’s blessing – “good wishes to you all and to everyone at Bais Yaakov Ohel Sarah for a most enjoyable and successful school year.”
While the school’s guiding approach is, like many other Bais Yaakov schools, the Torah and halacha, a declared aim is to inculcate a Jewish mindset in the girls so that their responses to the world with which they interact will be authentically Jewish. Their faith, their thought processes and their actions are to be in sync in a gracious and noble fashion.
“The Jews are an eternal people with an eternal creed and values, decency and personal conduct should not have to change with the vagaries and dictates of society,” says Mrs. Mendelsohn.
“In the Torah it states that the Jewish People are to be ‘a kingdom of Cohanim and a holy people.’ That does not change. Rather, Jews who represent the Torah should always be seen to have the elements of dignity and responsibility permeate their actions.”