Consistency. I am constantly working on consistency.

When I was 21, I graduated from university and came to Israel to learn in a seminary (a center for Jewish learning). At the time, I had been keeping Shabbat already for a few years, and I was very happy learning and growing in Judaism. The more I learned, the more I understood that there was so much more to learn, and yet with the learning came more clarity and light.

A few months into the school year, we hadI met up with a friend from college a short break and I met up with a friend from college who was studying at Hebrew University. We decided to go on a trip to Greece for a few days.

What can I say? The Greek Islands were beautiful. I appreciate beauty. But something happened on that trip that didn’t sit well with me. Something that changed me. I remember sitting in a non-kosher Greek cafe in my former attire of pants (I had left my long skirts and modest clothing in Jerusalem) and feeling, well, very uncomfortable. It had already been a few months since I had not worn pants and a few months of being in only kosher restaurants.

I thought to myself, “What in the world am I doing here?”

Because you see, while I work hard at being “flexible” and “going with the flow,” inconsistencies don’t sit well with me. I asked myself, “How can you dress one way in one place and a different way in another?” To have one identity at “home” and another one when I was away felt off. It felt contradictory.

Growing up, it seemed like Judaism was simply a religion with traditions and rituals. It was like a membership to a club. Just show up when you want and follow the rules while you are there.

But this wasn’t the only message that I got. I received a fundamental teaching from my grandparents’ survival of the Nazis, and from my other grandparents who in the 1930s and 1940s got turned down from job after job because they wouldn’t leave their Shabbat observance at home.

Yes, Judaism is family, holidays and traditions. There are rules and rituals. But being Jewish is not just about what one does or doesn’t do. Sitting there in that cafe, I realized that Judaism was my entire being. It was who I am—the core part of my essence that no one can take away from me. I realized that I have to be who I am wherever I am, even if the conditions are challenging.

It dawned on me that Torah isn’t even a “way” of life. Torah is life. Torah touches every aspect of your life. Inside, outside. In private and in public.

It demands that you show kindness to your family—not just in public, but in private, too. It demands that you work on your patience and your tone of voice, even if no one is paying attention or listening. It demands that you eat the same kosher food in your home as you do on a trip. Judaism demands that you ask questions and find out when and how to be flexible, and it demands that you hold your ground and stand firm.

How ironic and how appropriate that sitting there in the Greek islands all this came to me.

More than 2,000 years ago, the Syrian-Greek Empire conquered Israel and oppressed the Jews. One of the main ideals of the Greek empire was outward beauty. The Greeks taught that beauty is physical. It is a body without a soul.

But Judaism incorporates body and soul. Judaism emphasizesJudaism incorporates body and soul truth and moral purity; physical, spiritual, they are always connected. Our work in this world is to use all aspects of our physical world to fulfil our G‑dly mission.

The war between the Greeks and the Jews was a battle to connect the body to the soul. A miracle happened, and the Jews won the military war. Every year we celebrate not only the military victory, but the miracle of the light of the menorah in the Holy Temple. The miracle of being able to illuminate physicality with spiritually.

We celebrate by lighting the menorah’s candles (representing the soul and spirituality) in the most public place (representing communal and physicality) for all to see.

As a child, I couldn’t understand inconsistencies. Actually, most children cannot. And as a parent, I see that one of the most effective parenting tools that I possess is consistency. If I am not consistent, then my children don’t believe me or in me.

The word for Chanukah has the same root as the Hebrew word for “education,” chinuch. Is that a coincidence? No, in the Hebrew language, there are no coincidences.

A Greek island, Chanukah, the menorah, education. It all goes back to being consistent with who we essentially are.