What counts is whats inside, says Israeli beauty

When Hava Mond wakes up in the morning she washes her hands, says her 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 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 nightly mitzvah of Kri’at Shma, the 23-year-old faces the camera as a model for leading international fashion companies. As a religious woman, Mond has strict lines she will not compromise, including not posing in swimwear or underwear.

Still, none of this has prevented 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. Over the past three years she worked the runways of top designers such as Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, modeled for top designers such as Armani and L’Oreal, and appeared on the covers of Vogue and Glamour. She has succeeded in doing all this while still being observant.

Raised in a religious family in Safed, she attended the city’s religious girls’ school. She had hoped to study law and become an attorney but shifted course at 16 after being approached by an agent from the Select modeling agency while vacationing in London with her aunt.

She refused, saying she was religious and hadn’t completed her high school studies. So the modeling agency waited until she turned 18. Mond completed her national service and then embarked on her modeling career.

How did she make the switch to a life of glamour?

“For me it doesn’t really make a difference,I have stayed who I am. I don’t feel at ease or good about something, I don’t do it.”

“I have my red lines,” she added. “I manage with low cleavages and I even wear short skirts, but I also 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.”

Although her friends support her, that’s not the case with Israel society in general.

“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.

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 for dealing with the frequent travel, Mond has an apartment in London where she can be close to her grandparents, agent and boyfriend. Even so, she comes to Israel for every religious holiday to meet friends and celebrate with her family.