Adrienne Gold grew up in an unaffiliated Jewish home, but says her parents had “inherited tremendous Jewish values from their parents.” There was little mention of God, but the family celebrated Rosh Hashana and Passover, and enjoyed tradition based on warmth and community.
Gold even attended Hebrew school, what she termed “Jew jail.”
“The intensely morally based upbringing I had was pure Torah, it just wasn’t framed that way,” Gold told the AJW. “But I realized that the majority of the things in our world that are just called good common sense or decency or humanism all ride on the back of Torah, of revelation at Sinai.”
Gold began a career as a management consultant in the fashion industry, which eventually turned into a successful television career in Canada. But she gave it all up 15 years ago as she began a journey to more deeply connect with her Jewish spiritual roots.
Gold is now a Jewish educator at the Village Shul in Toronto, a trip leader for the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (3-14-14 AJW) and a lecturer throughout North America. Aish Minnesota will welcome Gold on Sunday, Oct. 11 at the Sabes JCC; she will speak to women and high school girls on “Beauty and the Media.”
Speaking from her own experience in media and the fashion industry, Gold will address what she says is its “tyranny over women and its role in creating impossible expectations that lead to self-loathing and poor body image.”
“In modernity, this shouldn’t be happening,” Gold said. “Beauty and aesthetics have to be balanced with depth and meaning.”
Gold says that she has always loved beauty, personal style and aesthetics. And that passion became her successful television career, which happened “quite by accident.”
“One of the clients I had was supposed to go on TV and discuss the products, which happened to be shoes, and her child got sick and she couldn’t go. It was truly a fluke,” Gold said. “I was working for the company at the time as a consultant and she said, ‘Please, can you get down to the station by 10 o’clock’… It was very natural for me and they asked me afterwards if I would return and talk about style and beauty and fashion.”
For Gold, that first television appearance turned into nearly two decades as a fixture on daytime television in Canada. She was a regular contributor to networks such as CTV and shows such as Canada AM (similar, she says, to Good Morning America), and later hosted her own daily fashion, style and beauty show.
“I told you what bag to wear with those shoes, what hose to wear with that blouse,” Gold said.
And though Gold enjoyed sharing her love of fashion, she felt something was missing. Over a gradual period of about five years, she began exploring the “beauty of the inner world,” which led her and her family to more Jewish ritual observance.
“Ritual observance became a vehicle to stay conscious of how I ate, how I sanctified time, even the way you make love,” Gold said. “Instead of being some kind of strange fence that pens you in, it becomes this expression of purpose. Every time I don’t eat that food, it reminds me that I’m not allowed to gossip and I have to judge favorably and I have to love my neighbor. They become vehicles to a greater, bigger truth, rather than just rote behaviors. It became so compelling to me.”
And as a fashion expert who was becoming more observant, Gold found that there were lots of things she could no longer wear, though she could still comment on them. But, she said, “It never changed the fact that I still love a great pair of shoes.”
Gold, who says she now uses Judaism as her “operating system,” draws on her experience to speak to women and girls about the Jewish definition of beauty, that, she says, “a Jewish woman is supposed to be attractive, not attracting.”
“There’s no issue with loving beauty and style and fashion, it’s not an anti-Jewish thought,” Gold said. “But a Jew is supposed to be able to recognize what is real and what is an illusion. And so much of it is an illusion. I was so much a part of creating that illusion… Women need to fall back in love with themselves, just being people, just being who they are.”
Gold said she is often asked by mothers to speak to their daughters about this illusion of beauty. But Gold says those mothers need to be the examples for their daughters.
“I think that when a young woman sees her mother embrace it and not fear getting older or gaining five pounds, that’s just a powerful message for her,” Gold said. “I want young girls to be able to be conscious intellectually. Most young women do not want to be manipulated. They certainly don’t listen to their mothers. But what they are listening to are someone else’s mothers who are running an industry who are telling them who they should be.”
Gold added, “My desire with teenage girls is to empower them to make their choices from a place of knowing that the majority of what they’re looking at is an illusion.”
Adrienne Gold will speak on “Beauty and the Media” at a Girls Night Out for women and high school girls 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11 at the Sabes JCC, 4330 Cedar Lake Rd. S., St. Louis Park. The event is hosted by Aish Minnesota.
The cost is $18 per person. For information and to register, visit: www.aishmn.org.
Since 1912 the AJW has served as an important news resource for the Jewish community. The Jewish World unites the main Jewish communities in St. Paul and Minneapolis, as well as those in Duluth, Rochester and smaller cities, and bridges the divides between the various Jewish religious streams.