I have a radical confession to make. I am not Orthodox. Or religious.

Yup, my husband is a Chabad rabbi. I am a Chabad rebbetzin. And I detest those denominational titles. Have I gone mad? Have I rebelled? Maybe in the philosophical sense of today’s world. Today’s world demands labels.

Labels make us feel important, give us a sense of belonging.

I live (not in a home): in a townhouse/condo/gated community ...

I drive (not a car): a Mazda/Lexus/Honda ...

I go (not to college): to Moorpark/Harvard ...

I am (not a Jew): Reform/Orthodox/Conservative ...

While these denominations were created with good intentions—to make Jews feel that they belong, and unite them—they have only served to divide us, for now one often feels that he does not “belong” in a shul other than his own, because he is not Reform/Orthodox/Conservative.

When we can label ourselves (or better yet, buy membership to really own our label), we don’t just feel important, we become “more Jewish.”

Your Jewishness is your essence, not something that you can become more of or less of But here’s the good news: You don’t have to do anything to become “more Jewish.” You don’t have to pay membership, or have a huge bar mitzvah. That is because your Jewishness is your essence, not something that you can become more of or less of. What you can do is express it, through leading a life based on Torah values and by performing its mitzvot, good deeds. Some express it constantly, some once in a while, some once a year!

Because our Jewishness is our essence, there is no Jew who is more Jewish than another. It is simply a part of us that can never be destroyed. In a sick and ironic twist, the Nazis knew this. It infuriated them. It fueled their attempt to rid the world of this irritatingly stubborn people with immortal souls. It didn’t matter if one tried to denounce his Judaism, or even convert—the Nazis reminded him: once a Jew, always a Jew.

This essence reveals itself differently among us. From the agnostic woman who is suddenly gripped with fear, realizing that her children are getting older and have not yet had a Jewish education to the vulnerable elderly man who hasn’t been to synagogue in 60 years, who is grateful when he is assigned to a Jewish doctor; to a little toddler who reaches up to kiss a far away mezuzah; to a carefree teenager who cranks up the radio volume when she hears news of Israel—we all have these revelations, many of which we can’t quite explain to others, let alone to ourselves. But for it to be more than a mere flickering flame in the darkness, to fully reveal this precious essence, to fully experience and celebrate it, the Torah gives us guidelines to integrate our Jewishness into our day to day life. And these are the mitzvot.

So who am I then, you ask? I’m exactly like you and 14 million others on this planet.

I am simply a Jew.