Jewess in Chief Kylie Ora Lobell’s Rosh Hashanah Reflections
This time last Rosh Hashanah, I thought I had everything figured out. I was secure in who I was and where I was going. I saw the world in black and white.
I was right. Others were wrong.
But a lot changed for me over this past year.
There were many good times, but I also had some bad ones as well. While there was certainly more positivity than negativity, I went through some tough situations that changed how I see the world. I came out on the other side and took a look at my life.
I realized that while I was living an observant Jewish lifestyle from the outside, on the inside, I wasn’t doing my best.
I wouldn’t daven (pray) with much focus or energy, or try to feel God’s presence. I would rush and put everything else before it.
I would wear skirts that covered my knees, but I’d still gossip about people.
I would go to shul (synagogue) on Shabbat for the socializing and Kiddush (meal) and not for the davening.
I wouldn’t treat the body God gave me with respect because I frequently overate.
And I would care more about what other people thought of me than what God thought of me.
But these days, I’m trying to be more honest with myself. I’m doing my best to treat others with kindness, not just to their faces, and do the things that actually matter as an observant Jew, like not speaking gossip, not being judgmental, protecting my soul from negative influences, and protecting my body from bad foods.
I also no longer want to be stagnant in my Judaism.
I thought that maybe if I learned more I might question more, and if I questioned more, I would give all of this up. I would go back to a secular lifestyle because I would find some obscure passage that makes me think, “Maybe this isn’t real.”
And I believed that if looked at a variety of perspectives divergent from my own, I’d start to question my life choices.
But I realized that when you’re in a bubble, and everyone around you is saying, “yes, yes, yes” to your opinions, you’re not living honestly. And you’re not challenging yourself.
If I can go outside of my little Orthodox world here in LA, and read about the Women of the Wall, and learn about why people are anti-Israel, and hear the stories of those who left Orthodox Judaism, and listen, just listen, to the other sides and then still be faithful, well, then my faith will mean that much more.
All the great people in our rich history, like Rambam and the Lubavitcher Rebbe, co-existed with and helped all sorts of Jews and non-Jews alike. They interacted with the outside world but still stayed firm in their own beliefs. They are an inspiration.
At a time when there is so much hatred between people (or at least that’s what the media tells us), I need to do my part to only spread love. Meet someone completely different from me and respect her lifestyle. Have meaningful conversations and try to find some common ground instead of dismissing them as crazy. Realize that everyone has their struggles that inform their choices, and that I am no better than them.
We are all human. We are all one.
While it’s easier to point out what I did wrong instead of my praise myself, I do want to mention all the good of this past year. My husband Danny and I are getting along better than ever, and love each other more every day. We went through a month of doing the insane Edinburgh Fringe and survived some rough times.
Even though I struggled with overeating, I still managed to lose 14 pounds with my dietician’s help. I had medical issues stemming from my obesity, and I still do, so I need to keep getting it under control.
I got more writing clients and was published in new places. I was able to give up my last side job and focus solely on writing.
And, of course, I launched Jewess, my own business, which I hope will only grow and grow.
This year, I resolve to improve myself by loving my fellow women and men, seeking out a stronger connection to God, taking care of my body by exercising and eating well, going to synagogue on time, and living a life that feels honest and true.
Shana Tova, and may you have a wonderful New Year full of growth and love.