I first met Sarah back in 2014, when I was studying for my conversion to Judaism and she agreed to be my teacher. Sarah, an Orthodox Jewish woman, a wife, a mother of eight and a brilliant businesswoman, lived in an immaculate, calm home, which also doubled as a synagogue. When she taught me about Torah, I felt at peace. I knew I was in the presence of greatness.
Sarah is one of the many Jewish women who inspire me. She is not only deeply dedicated to her family and her Jewish values, but she is also very intelligent and has an impressive career, too.
Our culture puts certain people on a pedestal and tells us we should worship them. We should all aim to be like the Kardashians or follow Justin Bieber’s every move. We are supposed to look up to the rich and famous and aim to become rich and famous ourselves. Isn’t that what life is all about?
As I looked around me, I saw how much Jewish women were impacting the world, often in quiet but powerful ways. I wanted to be like them instead.
I used to revere celebrities and want to be like them. Heck, when I was a kid, I learned all of Britney Spears’ dance moves and dreamed of being a wildly successful pop singer myself. But once I decided to convert to Judaism and become observant, my whole perspective changed. I was done idolizing celebrities. As I looked around me, I saw how much Jewish women were impacting the world, often in quiet but powerful ways. I wanted to be like them instead.
Along with Sarah, I had other role models, such as my mother-in-law, Vivien. I call her “Eema.” Eema is always looking out for other people, making beautiful mishloach manot during Purim, inviting guests to her Shabbat table and sending gifts to her kids and daughters-in-law when she finds something she thinks they’ll like. Even though we’re on the West Coast and she’s in New York, I frequently get cards and gifts in the mail from Eema for no apparent reason — she was simply thinking of me and wanted to let me know she loves and misses me.
Another Jewish woman I admire is Deb, who lives in my neighborhood and is a family friend from New York. We call her Aunt Deb; when I had my second child, she made a delicious Shabbat dinner for us that week, and she frequently brings over toys for our little girls. When I recently posted on Facebook that I was looking for office space in the neighborhood, she immediately commented that I could use her house anytime. I wasn’t surprised. Deb is a giver at her core.
While I’m mentioning incredible Jewish women, how could I forget Sara, a local rebbetzin in our community who makes all the food for a 100+ person kiddush at her synagogue every week while raising six children? Or how about Evey, a mother who responds to every person who needs something on our local WhatsApp chat within minutes and, in honor of her late mother, created the Perla List, a huge listing of Megillah readings around L.A. every year?
The Jewish women I know are amazing. They have so much going on, and yet they manage to fit it all in … and more. They are shining examples of the phrase, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” Not only do they take care of their families and homes, but they also excel in their careers, learn Torah and find time to volunteer and give back in innumerable ways. They are modest and humble, and do it all with a smile.
I’m constantly refining my character and trying to be a better Jewish woman. These women show me what that looks like. They inspire me to always strive for more. They inspire me to fill every day with mitzvot, and to spread as much love and light as I can to make this world a better place. What could be more important?
Want to tell me about an awesome Jewish woman in your life? Email me! Kylieol@JewishJournal.com
Kylie Ora Lobell is the Community Editor of the Jewish Journal