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Being Jewish Is a Gift

We know the right path to take to live a meaningful and fulfilled life. We have direction on what true happiness is and how to attain it.
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January 24, 2024
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While I was still in the process of converting, my husband Daniel and I were sitting at kiddush when an Orthodox Jewish man asked me, “Why would you want to become a Jew?” 

“What do you mean?” I said.

“Being a Jew is such a hassle. It’s so much work, and everyone hates you. I don’t know why anyone would choose to be a Jew.”

I was taken aback and surprised to hear this from someone who, on the outside, seemed so sure of himself and his faith.

I’ve thought back to that conversation often since Oct. 7, and how there must be other Jews out there who feel exactly the same as he does. 

How sad that is. 

I recently attended a talk with Rabbi Noah Farkas, and he said something that stuck with me: “Being Jewish is a gift.”

I totally agree. Being Jewish is a wonderful gift. In fact, becoming Jewish may have just saved my life.

Prior to converting, I was a depressed atheist who was obsessed with pop culture, who learned her morals from television and movies. I thought that when you died, that was it – just eternal darkness – and that life was a random assortment of events that made no sense. I frequently had devastating panic attacks in college, where I’d lie in bed all night, staring up at the ceiling until sunrise, worried about my future. I had no way of giving up control, no source of comfort and no gratitude for all the blessings in my life.

Then, when I met my husband and he took me to Chabad for Friday night dinner, I felt Hashem’s presence – there was a warmth in my chest that I’d never previously felt. My soul was sparked. I knew He existed. 

When I started converting, I gained the Torah, a guidebook for life. I gained a community full of wonderful people whose mission in life was to give to others. I gained Shabbat, a day when I could turn off that anxious part of my brain and bask in the glory of spiritual calm. And of course, I gained a relationship with Hashem, which gave me a purpose. 

“Why would you want to become a Jew?” 

Why wouldn’t I want to become a Jew?

The Jews are the chosen people because Hashem took the Torah to all the other nations, and none of them wanted it. We chose to take it on. We chose the responsibility to communicate Hashem’s presence to the world and spread love and light. We are obligated to follow the Torah and teach the other nations about the Noahide laws and why it’s important to have a relationship with Hashem as well. 

What an honor.

We choose to take the moral high ground, to do what’s right even if others are mischaracterizing us. What other army alerts residents that there are going to be airstrikes like the IDF does? Or rushes to provide lifesaving assistance to other countries when there is a disaster, like Israel does? Or helps other minority groups as much as the Jews?

What a blessing.

We have endless texts we can study to become closer to Hashem and form a special relationship with Him. We know the right path to take to live a meaningful and fulfilled life. We have direction on what true happiness is and how to attain it.

What a gift.

In a time when the entire world seems to be going after us, we must remember our purpose and higher calling. If Hashem made you a Jew – or you converted like me – there’s a reason. 

In a time when the entire world seems to be going after us, we must remember our purpose and higher calling. 

If Hashem made you a Jew – or you converted like me – there’s a reason. 

We learn in the Torah that Hashem can turn curses into blessings. Right now, if you feel like it’s a burden to be a Jew because of what’s going on in Israel, because of all the hatred of Jews, don’t worry: Hashem can turn it around in an instant. 

In the meantime, your job is to be thankful, every single day, to be a Jew. 

Don’t take that precious gift for granted.

Do you feel blessed to be Jewish? Email me: Kylieol@JewishJournal.com.


Kylie Ora Lobell is the Community Editor of the Jewish Journal.

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