Whether you grew up on The Beverly Hillbillies or not, Los Angeles was always a fantasy place, a magical land filled with “swimming pools and movie stars.” So, when I tell someone where I live, one of the first questions is frequently about seeing famous people. Their faces drop when I tell them that I never see famous people – or perhaps I do but since I don’t recognize them, it’s pretty much irrelevant.

But what would I do if I did? What difference would it really make? (Okay, I confess; I do think I saw George Clooney standing in front of CAA a few months ago but, hey, that was George Clooney!) How would my life be changed in any way? Would I be happier, wiser, more fulfilled? The answer is obvious.

Yet the desire for people to see celebrities remains undiminished. Despite their often-unhappy lives and even unhappier relationships, tourists clamor to catch a glimpse and Star Tours clog the streets of Beverly Hills. (My only other star sighting, believe it or not, was at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem where Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones were lounging by the pool. Not sure what to make of that…) What is it about fame that is so alluring?

I have a family member who used to love collecting autographs and seeing their screen idols. She would get up very early in the morning to line the streets before the Academy Awards and watch from the bleachers (the nose-bleed seats or standing) as the attendees arrived. I confess that I never understood the attraction and was only resentful at being awoken so early.

But (I’m trying out a new theory here), I think it’s a substitution for holiness, for transcendence. We all want to connect to something and someone bigger than ourselves. We all want to be lifted out of our mundane lives and concerns. We all want to feel special and elevated.

And for a moment, in the presence of a celebrity, at a star-studded elegant event, we are transported. We experience the illusion of being part of something grander and larger than our everyday existence. It’s not our typical experience and, just for the moment, we feel special.

Unfortunately, this is really counterfeit goods, an illusion of the type that Hollywood specializes in. The elevation is illusory and doesn’t last. The glitz and glitter are only a façade.

If we really want a transcendent experience and feel elevated, if we truly desire to deepen our spiritual connection, we won’t accomplish it in a moment and certainly not through the world of entertainment.

The experience we are really looking for is only available through a relationship with the Almighty and only after putting in the effort to achieve it. We need to work on our character, on being kind to others and thoughtful of their needs, on diminishing our ego in an effort to be humble, on giving and caring to other people and on expressing gratitude and appreciation to our Creator.

I think it’s probably very exciting to be invited to the Academy Awards (although I’m also guessing the night is a little long and boring). You get to buy a new dress and mix with…well, just other people who are also just muddling their way through, often with greater challenges than our own. It may be night of fun; it may not.

But whatever it is, it won’t last. It won’t substitute for the true lift found in a relationship with the Almighty. Prayer, acts of kindness, giving charity, keeping kosher – none of it sounds as exhilirating as walking down the red carpet – but in the end it’s much more rewarding. This prize lasts forever, and no one can steal it from you.