Rabbis in Red Lipstick

There are many things that play an important part in my morning ritual — a nice hot drink, a shower, morning prayers. One of the most important elements of my morning routine, however, is putting on my red lipstick. There is something so satisfying about applying the final smear of the creamy red across my lips before I walk out of the door–I feel instantly like a brighter, better version of myself.

My red lips have been my trademark for the last several years, and though the shade has varied, it’s always been red, red, and red. I’ve ventured from candy pink to seductive purples, and my personal favorite and general default, a true candy-apple red. In college, I spent hours defending my cosmetic habits to my feminist friends, who accused me of buying into patriarchal conceptions of beauty. I knew, however, that they didn’t quite understand why the contents of that tiny red tube were so vital. It was about making an active choice about my own gender expression in a way that made me feel all at once powerful, beautiful and uniquely feminine.

These days, as a person embarking on a lifelong journey of Jewish professional leadership — beginning my studies towards non-profit management at New York University’s Wagner School for public service — I continue try my hardest to bring my authentic self to the table as often as I can. Be it at a fundraising dinner, a board meeting, or in the office, I attempt to be fully present, bringing the traits I know to be my strengths — my energy, my genuine desire to connect with others and my drive to create inclusive community spaces — to my work. Oddly enough, the lipstick has become an essential part of making this happen. It is a final, dramatic touch — a flash of vibrant color — that urges me to truly turn up in the fullest way possible, wherever I am.