I’m addicted to my smartphone. It’s the first thing I look at in the morning and the last thing I check before bed. When I’m in line, at a red light, at a party, or just walking around and feeling bored, I open my email or Facebook or Twitter or TMZ.

When I first started converting to Judaism six years ago, I knew it wouldn’t be easy to give up my smartphone on Shabbat and the holidays.I knew it wouldn’t be easy ... Intellectually, though, I knew it would be good for me.

I learned that looking at light from a cell phone before bed keeps you up later. I knew that it was distracting. I was aware that I seemed like much more of an introvert than I really was because I was looking down at my phone at parties. I should probably have stopped to take in nature. But I’ve always been someone who can’t just relax and let my mind wander.

Fortunately, giving up my computer on Shabbat was easy because it very clearly says in the Torah not to work. I mostly use my computer for work, so I’d put it away every Shabbat right from the beginning of my conversion process. Television wasn’t a big deal to me either—I didn’t even have cable—so I was able to adhere to that rule. But my phone?

I rationalized it in my head. I wrongly convinced myself that it wasn’t work because I was using it to socialize and for leisure. I was only turning this tiny light on once, and then after that, it would be lit up. If my boyfriend (now husband) wasn’t in town because he was on the road doing comedy, I would check Facebook to feel less alone.

Working towards my conversion, I took on more and more laws of the holidays and Shabbat. Eventually, the only thing I wasn’t doing right by the book was checking my phone.

I worked on myself up to the point that I was looking at my phone on the holidays, except for on Yom Kippur, because it seemed like the most important holiday. But I still would check my emails and social-media accounts and texts on the other days. I’d see what people emailed me, but wouldn’t reply because then I would be “working.” I wouldn’t update my social-media statuses because I didn’t want to publicly show what I was doing and set a bad example.

Inside, I felt shameful. I’d look around in synagogue and think, “I bet I’m the only one here who checked her phone today.” I felt like I didn’t fit in. I felt like an imposter.

Then one Shabbat, I decided to give up my phone. My husband had convinced me that it was ruining Shabbat and the holidays for me; I couldn’t argue with him.

It was a rough 25 hours that first time, but I did it. And when I went to check it after Havdalah, I didn’t miss any emergency calls, or important text messages, or emails saying I was suddenly a famous writer and had made $10 million overnight. So, the11 days without my phone?! next week, I tried again. And I did it. And then the next week I put it down again. I succeeded in not checking.

I had been “smartphone-free” on the holidays and Shabbat for a while. Then Rosh Hashanah rolled around and I thought this was the big test. I had gone all of Passover and Shavuot without my phone, which meant I couldn’t look at it for a few days in a row. But 11 days throughout October without my phone?

I decided very firmly that I wasn’t going to worry. Instead of thinking about my work or the outside world, I was going to dive into the holidays and celebrate them like I had never celebrated before.

My Torah-learning partner had told me that the King is in the field in the month leading up to the High Holidays. This means that G‑d can be really felt on these holidays. I thought that if this was the time to really connect, I was going to take every chance possible.

Over Rosh Hashanah meals, I told guests some Torah I had learned and asked for them to talk about what they knew as well. I sang songs, spent time with family and friends, and opted to stay up instead of taking a nap, like I always did. It was great.

I always dreaded Yom Kippur, but I didn’t want to. It’s my husband’s favorite holiday. He explained to me that it’s a day when we put aside ourselves and our materialistic needs, and can truly focus on being at one with G‑d. I wanted to experience that.

I thought about my errors of the past year and how I wanted to improve in the coming year, and prayed to G‑d. Instead of napping like I had done before, I learned portions from the Torah in synagogue. The fast was the easiest it had ever been.

For Sukkot, we built a sukkah and made it beautiful. We hosted about 30 people, and got invites to houses of friends and neighbors. I ate in the sukkah, and enjoyed clapping and singing along with the tunes in synagogue.

At the end of all the holidays, I was sad, which I had neverFor the first time, I felt immersed in the holidays experienced. For the first time, I felt immersed in the holidays, and that I had really strengthened my connection with G‑d. I credit a lot of that to not being on my phone.

I had learned that what’s going on via email or Facebook was not the most important thing in my life. It was just a distraction from the real thing, which is fostering a relationship with G‑d and those around me. I had figured out what really mattered, and I wasn’t going to ever give it up.