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Jewess » The Jewess 7: Jill Zarin, “Real Housewives of New York City” Jewess

The Jewess 7: Jill Zarin, “Real Housewives of New York City” Jewess

by Rebecca Honig Friedman
Jill Zarin, wearing her signature “Team Jill” t-shirt (available at at a private party at Village Pourhouse in NYC. Photo Credit: © 2008 S Rudd

Alright, confession time.
I lost one of my few guilty pleasures when Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York City” ended a few weeks ago. I can’t quite put my finger on the show’s appeal but it has something to do with Jill Zarin.
She is “the quintessential New York woman,” according to Bravo’s website. Which means that, in addition to being a regular on the Manhattan and Hamptons social circuits, hob-knobbing with celebrities, and supporting numerous charities, she is an accomplished businesswoman and photographer who, together with her husband, entrepreneur Bobby Zarin, runs Zarin Fabrics and Home Furnishings on the Lower East Side, while also being a mother to her daughter Allyson and her stepchildren David (and his wife Jill), Jennifer and Jonathan.
That’s the New York pace for you.

Below, this busy Jewess socialite tells us about confronting anti-Semitism, observing Shabbat, being a good mom, and why everyone should be lucky enough to have a “gay husband.”

JEWESS: 1. On the show you’ve thanked God for your family, on your website you have a blog devoted to the miraculous coincidences that show up in your life, and when I walked by Zarin Fabrics the other day I noticed that the store is closed on Saturdays. Is that because of the Sabbath? Do you consider yourself observant Jewishly?
JILL ZARIN: I am glad you asked that question. The answer is yes…we are closed for Shabbat. My step son became gravely ill recently, he is much better now, but we had a few Rabbis come to the hospital to visit him. The Rabbi asked us a few questions and emphasized how important Shabbat is and we decided, to honor our faith and hope for his recovery, to close on Shabbat. I am not as observant as some and more than others. I believe one should do what they are comfortable doing. I do thank God everyday and I believe if you do 5 good things…a miracle will happen. Even if it is a small coincidence.

2. As a self-described “nice Jewish girl from the Five Towns” who loves to shop and owns a fabric and interior decorating business on the Lower East Side, do you worry about being stereotyped? Have you ever experienced anything resembling anti-Semitism in “society”?
I am my own stereotype and love it. I make no apologies for who I am or where I come from. I have looked anti-Semitism in the eye and can only feel sorry for their ignorance and pray for them.

3. As the mother of a teenage daughter, are you concerned about the portrayal of women in the media and on shows such as “The Real Housewives of New York City?
I can’t worry about the world, but I hope I have raised Allyson to be a socially conscious young lady with good morals and values. I can only set my own example for her and we can’t be held responsible for anyone else’s behavior. She has learned, hopefully by my example, how to make good and healthy choices in her life. Only time will tell.

4. On your website (nice new design!) you have links to your favorite charities, all of which benefit children in some way. Why have you chosen children’s charities in particular?

Jill and her daughter Allyson.
Photo credit:© 2008 S Rudd

I am involved with many charities, from health issues to education and children. As a mother and step-mother (and almost a grandmother!), I feel most connected to children’s causes and health related issues concerning our family specifically. Children do not have a voice in society and need strong souls to help them navigate the world. I am always available to help other people in some way…whether it’s to sponsor a walk-a-thon or buy a bracelet from a sick child. My website is still being developed and I will be adding more charities to them.

5. Do you think wealthy people give enough charity in general? Is there peer pressure amongst New York’s elite to give?
I can’t answer for anyone on how much they “should” give to charity. It is too vague a question. I can say I choose friends who are like minded as Bobby and I and therefore also feel the need to be grateful and give back.

6. There’s a scene on the show where your sister interviews you and stresses the importance of being able to tell “your story.” Has being on the show and seeing it air made you think about your story or how you live your life differently?
Of course I was scared that my family and I would not be portrayed accurately. I can proudly say we worked with the most professional production company and network. If I had to do it over again…I would. I think that says it all.

7. For those who haven’t seen the show, what is a “gay husband”? Do you and Brad and your real husband ever all hang out together and is that weird?
Brad is my “gay husband” and I am proud! Brad and I have been friends for years, and he also is the Creative Director at Zarin Fabrics and Home Furnishings on the Lower East Side. Brad has had many interesting careers in his life, one of them being a makeup artist early on. What is better than going shopping with Brad and then he fixes me up for the evening to go out! We travel together like family and he and Bobby have a close relationship. I truly am the luckiest Housewife!

One Response to “The Jewess 7: Jill Zarin, “Real Housewives of New York City” Jewess”

  1. Jill Zarin is a fake Jewess. Trace her family. She is a Hittite from the Khazar region. If you don’t like her, you are not an anti-Semite, you are an anti-Hittite which is OK.

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  • About Jewess

    Jewess is a blog about Jewish women's issues, and is part of the Canonist network of religion blogs.

    Senior Writer:
    Rebecca Honig Friedman
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