My eldest daughter is at that stage where she cries and doesn’t know why. She’s becoming a woman, and yet she’s still such a child. In a mere six months’ time, this child of mine will be, according to Jewish law, a woman with all the same religious obligations and privileges as mine. She’s beautiful, and I look at her and I gasp, especially when she’s holding my baby and I remember when she was a baby and how before I know it, she’ll be, G‑d willing, a mother of her own.

I think back to whenShe’s becoming a woman, and yet she’s still such a child I was her age and even younger. I grew up in a traditional, but not observant home. I knew with certainty that I was Jewish and different than my non-Jewish peers, but I didn’t know why. I understood that no matter what, I would always be Jewish; it wasn’t something that could be ever taken away, but I questioned and I asked, “What does it mean not to just be, but to live like a Jew?”

As I grew older, I made choices. I chose to study more about Judaism, to move to Israel and to live as an observant Jew. There were so many choices along the way. How to dress, what to eat, how to speak—from morning to night, choices that the Torah and Jewish law put in front of you, and you have complete freedom to choose. I’m not saying that all the choices I made were easy or without challenge, but I kept thinking to myself, “Elana, when you choose to live according to Jewish law, you are walking.” I felt like I was going somewhere and somewhere good with my choices. To a place of connection and purpose. In Hebrew, the word Jewish law, halachah, stems from the root word to go or walk, lalechet.

Now my daughter, she was born into all “this.” She was born into the beauty of Shabbat and observing the holidays. She was born into a home watching her mother make challah and the aromas of traditional foods. She and all of her friends wear skirts and dresses. Hebrew is her mother tongue, and she knows all the prayers and the blessings. My daughter knows at the age of 11 more about running an observant Jewish home than I did at the age of 21.

She also sees that yes, at times, there are challenges that are not easy. But I can tell by her comments and her actions that she already understands what I try so hard to transmit, and that with the difficulty comes great reward and growth. It’s a matter of choice and having clarity.

Again, I look at her and gasp in awe at her modesty, her innocence, her maturity and her beauty. AndThere are tests and trials and hard times I’ll tell you something. This daughter of mine, I admire her. Because she, too, makes choices. Just because she or anyone else was “born” into this does not mean that observance or knowledge or love of Torah and closeness to G‑d should be taken for granted, and that there aren’t choices to make. Choosing to connect in the first place is a choice, but so is deciding to stay connected.

In a mere six months’ time, this child of mine will, according to Jewish law, be a woman. In a few more years from now, she will, G‑d willing, be up in the middle of the night with her own children. I want her to know that as much as a person can find G‑d in a class or in a synagogue, He’s not just there, but here, everywhere. For everyone, there are tests and trials and hard times. I hope she will always know that while life isn’t easy, at each step of the way she has Who to turn to, and she has the capability of turning every moment into something holy and spiritual.

She’s a Jewish woman and she’s proud of it, and it is and will be her decision to choose. What is she choosing? A life of connection and purpose that also tells you a way to act, a way to dress, a way to speak, a way to live. A life of walking and going towards something bigger and greater than I could have ever imagined when, as a 20-something, I questioned and asked what it would mean for me to live the full life of a Jew.