Dear Tehila,

Twelve years ago, you were born on (Shushan) Purim, a day of contradictions – I cannot think of a more appropriate time for a Jewish girl to be brought into this world.

Though Esther is one of the few female heroes who is not universally described as beautiful, the mere fact that her appearance is described and debated reminds us of the inescapable reality that you face as a young woman; it breaks my heart to write these words as it is terribly wrong, but the world will likely judge you by your appearance. And yet, while it is her beauty or grace that gets Esther through the palace doors, it is her courage and cunning that establish her place in Jewish history. ​I pray that you never lose sight of what is eternal and what is fleeting; that skin decays but the spirit lives on, that the world may get stuck on superficialities but what is truly important – your inner world, cannot be seen.

Orphaned at a young age, sent away by her uncle to live a life among the Persians, forced to create a family with a non-Jewish king, Esther describes herself as utterly lost; ​ka’asher avad’ti avad’ti​. And yet, she is not lost. In fact, she is the source of the Jewish People finding themselves. In truth, there is no such thing as being lost; even when our parents are no longer with us, we always have a caring Father. God hides Himself not just in the Purim story, but He hides in Esther herself;​“Anochi h​aster aster ​es panai, I will hide my face.”​No matter what choices you make in life, I will always love you. I may not agree with every choice you make in life, but you will always be loved by Mommy, by me, and by God NO. MATTER. WHAT.

A spiritual holiday of the highest order, on par with Yom Kippur, and yet we spend the day with food and drink, costumes, and fun. Though it took me years to understand, your mother, my mother and grandmothers taught me a life-altering lesson; a meal can convey more love than a poem, a hug more care than words, and a smile or sigh more spirituality than a prayer. I pray that you learn this lesson too; that as Jews we do not fight the physical world, we do not even infuse the physical with the spiritual. We, as the women in my life have taught me, find the spirituality that exists within. Purim appears as a paradox only because we cannot properly see. I pray that you follow in the holy footsteps of the women that came before you, uncovering the beauty, the spirit, and the Godliness that can be found all around us.

Tehila, you were born on a complicated day into a complicated world as a member of a complicated faith. With your sensitive soul, you already have questions and I am sure you will have many more. The women that came before you did not accept what was broken, they challenged the status quo. They did not quietly fade into the background, they boldly made a difference. They did not solve the world’s problems but they learned to live with them while still pushing for meaningful change. May you follow in their footsteps as you blaze your own trail. Yesimeich Elohim k’Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel, v’Leah.

With more love than you can imagine,