September 5, 2008 6:21 pm at 6:21 pm #588142JewelMember
I’m new to the Yeshiva World News Coffee Room (just heard about it from a friend), and I was very excited to discover that there is a Jewish website out there, that has forums for us to post questions, stories, and get insight from others.
I recently came back from a two week trip to Israel. It was truly an incredible and inspiring experience. I started to think about religion.
I come from a family who never practiced Judaism. On my own, I have decided to pursue a more religious life, and learn about the many things Frumkeit has to offer.
It’s been a month or so since I have started thinking and acting in this way. I feel lost sometimes, as if I am doing things incorrectly. I have met with a wonderful Rabbi who suggested I take things slowly.
Anyone have advice/tips on what I should focus on first, and perhaps books I should read to help me on this journey. (English based books, I do not read Hebrew as of yet)
Thank YOU for reading my post, and I hope to get some helpful feedback from the Yeshiva World members.
-JulieSeptember 5, 2008 9:12 pm at 9:12 pm #626331JosephParticipant
Follow the Rabbis advice, rather than anonymous internet comments.September 5, 2008 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm #626332Yanky55Participant
First, let me tell you how much credit I give you for taking religious life upon yourself. Your observance is way more special to Hakadosh Baruch Hu than mine, because you CHOSE this way of life. What I do is what I have done since I was born and have never known any other way.
Second, I would advise you to focus on mitzvot bein adom l’chaveiro (between man and his fellow man). You don’t need any special knowledge to treat your fellow man with love and compassion, and G-d gives these type of mitzvot more weight than any others.
Yes, you should take things slowly. Perhaps start by trying to observe Shabbos to the best of your ability.
I wish you all the best in your journey.
YankySeptember 5, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm #626333illini07Member
A good *starting point*, and I want to stress – starting point – is a book called “To Be A Jew.” It’s particularly good for someone new to practicing Judaism generally (which you seem to be).
Another book, which deals with a very specific aspect of practicing Judaism is called “Guard Your Tongue.” In my humble opinion, it all starts and ends with the words that come out of your mouth – which makes this a particularly instructive book.
There are some more references I can suggest, and I will post them when I have the time.
Until then, only the greatest success in your journey. It is exceptionally inspirational to come across people such as yourself, who have immense strength, faith, and belief.
Have a most wonderful and peaceful shabbos.September 7, 2008 1:46 am at 1:46 am #626334Pashuteh YidMember
Jewel, Welcome to the fold. All you need to know is that all of Judaism is merely about loving one’s fellow man as oneself. All other things are secondary details. This is what Hillel taught us in Talmud Shabbos p. 31.
Do not get sidetracked by trying to talk the same way as X Y or Z, or copy the mannerisms of so and so, thinking there is any importance to it. There is not. Gradually you will learn the details of the mitzvos. Your relationship is directly with G-d. You need no intermediaries.
Best wishes.September 7, 2008 2:29 am at 2:29 am #626335halavaiMember
I can tell you from experience that you don’t want to go too fast or bite off more than you can chew at any one time. Some people prefer to try doing all the mitzvos at once but on a smaller scale, while others prefer to master one mitzvah before moving onto the next. But whichever you prefer, you need to go at a comfortable pace.If keeping Shabbos is too difficult on the first try, then try for a few weeks to keep it properly only on Friday night, and when you find you can do that, move onto Saturday morning etc till you can do it the whole day. The same principle applies to keeping Kosher, the laws of modesty, family purity (if you are married), or the laws of inter-gender contact if you are single, and pretty much everything else. Some useful websites include aish.com and torah.org. I don’t know as much about books, but Artscroll publications has wonderful translations and commentaries on prayer books and the Tanach (bible). Most importantly, keep learning and asking questions! Your Rabbi is good for much more than just questions of Jewish law. Also, since you are a woman, I would recommend that you build a relationship with the Rabbi’s wife as well. It would also be nice if you could find the time to learn about things from women in your community who are willing to teach. I hope this helps. Wishing you much success on your journey home to your true roots!September 7, 2008 5:06 am at 5:06 am #626336just meParticipant
Hi Jewel, welcome. I would just reiterate what others have said about going slow and keep in touch with a rabbi. You cauld also learn one on one through an organization called Partners in Torah (PartnersInTorah.org). It’s a great organization!
Also, a friend of mine said that when he started learning about Judaism, someone he met told him that the Hashem, the Torah and Judaism are all true and beautiful. People are people. We would like to beleive that if they are religious they are perfect and good, but it isn’t always the case. If you’ve been reading here in the Coffee Room, I’m sure you see what I mean. Just look to what you and your rabbis think is right and ignore others who need improvement.
Good luck. You are fabulous!September 7, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm #626337shindyMember
Have you heard of Partners in Torah? You can be set up with a learning partner, you learn with someone on the telephone about once a week. you can google them, they have a website. also, if you are able to, there is an excellent place in Israel that has programs for people like you, they are in Har Nof, Neve Yerushalayim. You can go for the year or you can go for shorter programs, like the summer. You will really learn alot there in a short amount of time.September 7, 2008 1:38 pm at 1:38 pm #626339Feif UnParticipant
Jewel, as Joseph said, it’s important to have a Rabbi to guide you. I don’t know how old you are, or where you’re holding in life, but if you have a few months available, you might consider going back to Israel to Neve for a while. They have an excellent Mechinah program for people who are newly religious. Don’t let random people tell you to start with A, or B, r to avoid C, etc. For actions, ask a Rabbi.
As for books to read, two great books are from R’ Kelemen – Permission to Receive and Permission to Believe. They go into proof that there is a G-d, and the divinity of the Torah. I think these are a must for Baalei Teshuva, and highly recommend them.September 7, 2008 3:03 pm at 3:03 pm #626340mdlevineMember
the best advice that I can give you is to become close to the Rav and the Rebbitzen that you met and let them guide you. spend as much time with the as you can (Shabbos, Yom Tov). Ask questions, seek to understand and keep moving forward.September 8, 2008 2:52 am at 2:52 am #626341oomisParticipant
Mazel tov and much success to you in your endeavor. “To Be A Jew” by Donen (or Donin) is a good book to read, as is “The Jewish Book of Why.” I would get involved with a group of people such as those in Aish HaTorah, who specialize in kiruv (bringing Jews closer to G-d). Above all, in my opinion, it is better to take small steps that are concrete and lasting, rather than BIG steps that may or may not take. Flipping in and flipping out are common among people who take on too much at once. I have seen it happen time and again. But when you take upon yourself basic Shabbos observance, eating kosher food, and trying to learn about basic Judaism, you give yourself a foundation to build upon. When you find a rav you can rely upon and who is patient and happy to answer the manuy questions that will surely arise, you will have a great start. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and try to surround yourself with influences that will help strengthen you in your quest. All the best to you.September 8, 2008 6:10 pm at 6:10 pm #626343intellegentMember
That is an amazing decision.
Just giving you a friendly heads up. Don’t take some of the comments on this blog very seriously. They don’t necessarily represent Judaism/Yiddishkeit. Don’t be turned off from it!
Good luck!November 26, 2008 3:46 am at 3:46 am #626344dont have internetMember
you could try aish.comNovember 26, 2008 5:11 am at 5:11 am #626345yankdownunderMember
Jewel, Welcome stay connected to the Rav. and his Rebbetzin as much as possible during Shabbos and holidays). Try to get invited to their home to experience them. The beauty of Yiddishkeit is connected to them. Ask the Rav. if he can learn Aleph Bet with you as a place to start. Perhaps he can take you a special Rabbi called a Gadol for a blessing so you can advance in your journey.November 26, 2008 5:25 am at 5:25 am #626346bored@workParticipant
Congrads, and welcome. I really think Israel has this amazing power, but keeping what is there here is just a little bit harder. I deal with non frum teenagers, Some of them like working slowly, one shabbos I will not turn on the light, and when they feel that is no more a struggle they add on something else. I have other kids who will say “I want to keep shabbos,” and as much of a battle as it is they do it and I am proud to say they are keeping shabbos ever since. You should definately try out partners in torah, aish or Oorah, Living inspired is a good book, It depends what you want to learn about, about god, judiasm, or waht you should be doing now. please let me know what would interest youNovember 26, 2008 6:05 am at 6:05 am #626347oomisParticipant
Mazel tov on making a decision that will surely affect the rest of your life. I am in total agreement with many of the posters here, and have personal experience, because my dear husband is a baal teshuvah. He became religious over 38 years ago, and we are married almsot 32 years. His journey back to observant Judaism began when close and very non-judgmental friends pointed out to him that he knew everything there was to know about Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc. but absolutely nothing about his own religion. He realized they had a point, and the rest is history. He took small steps, and each one brought him closer. I recommend the same to you. People who “flip in” to religion, have a tendency to “flip out,” as well. Though it would be phenomenal for you to suddenly be totally keeping Shabbos and Kosher, in truth you would do well to begin to learn and absorb things slowly, so that they have staying power. Too much too soon, can be very overwhelming. Your best best lies in finding an Orthodox Rabbi who has experience in teaching people like yourself,who are returning to Judaism. He will be sensitive to how to approach teaching you properly. it is, as someone mentioned, a great idea to develop a warm relationship with the Rabbi’s wife. Many of your interactions will probably be with her. The Donen book, TO BE A JEW, is excellent. Another interesting source, if still available is “The Jewish Catalogue,” by Strassfeld, an enjoyable compendium of Jewish information. Get ahold of as good Artscroll prayer book, when you feel ready. It will have an English translation, and will explain the meaning behind the prayers.
I wish you much success in your journey, and hope it has the same impact on your life as it did on my husband’s. Above all, do not be discouraged at any point. All worthwhile things take time to achieve.November 26, 2008 9:33 am at 9:33 am #626348chaimssParticipant
There’s not much I can say to add onto what’s already been said, but another book I’d recommend is “Gateways to Judaism” by Rabbi Mordichai Becher. It’s a great resource into what, when and why, and it’s in very friendly terms.
Also, aishaudio.com has many amazing classes, and I personally recommend Rabbi Weinberg’s Five levels of pleasure.
Mazal Tov, and hatzlocha raba!November 26, 2008 2:46 pm at 2:46 pm #626349noitallmrParticipant
Absoloutly amazing this topic. Mi Keamcho Yisrael? You have chosen the correct path, you have litteraly made my day that you saw the life. Take everything slowly and starting points should be bit by bit. Hatzlocho Rabba…November 26, 2008 2:53 pm at 2:53 pm #626350smartcookieMember
Welcome Welcome!!! We’re so happy to have you!November 26, 2008 3:10 pm at 3:10 pm #626351RBS_gimmelParticipant
ppl, pay attention to the dates. this started 2 months ago, and now you’re coming back expecting her to still read this? maybe this is yet another reason why “You Know You’ve Been Spending Too Much Time in The YWN Coffee Room” – ppl responing to threads from months back! 🙂November 26, 2008 3:27 pm at 3:27 pm #626352smalltowngirlMember
Welcome, may your journey be inspiring to others!
It so important to be in touch with your Rabbi but even more importantly in this stage, is your Rebbetzin. Listen to the way she speaks, not just the words that she uses, but the tone. Listen to how she interacts with her husband and children, notice the way she dresses and remember while she should be your guide, she is also human.
See the beauty in our Torah and remember you are not alone!
Good luck and enjoy your gift!November 26, 2008 4:00 pm at 4:00 pm #626353NobodyMember
Hello Jewel and welcome to the site where some of the threads are informative, some of the threads argumentative, some of the threads contraversial and some downright stupid!
You will need to take a lot of what is written with a pinch of salt and I would advise, having been involved with Kiruv for many years that you become closely associated with a Rabbi and Rebetzin (not necessarily a couple). Somewhere you can turn to and go to, question and seek help, advise, or just a shoulder to cry on when the going gets tough.
It’s a long, slow road to religion and there are many bumps and humps along the way. You’ll make mistakes, come across things you have no idea about and so on but if you have someone/somewhere to turn to, you’ll do just great.
Someone I was teaching to read Hebrew took many years to learn and I must confess learning with her helped me remedy the many mistakes I make when I read. I have enjoyed all the people I have learnt with as we have learnt from each other. Hook uo with someone from Aish Hatorah – it’s a greta place to start and the social is awesome!
Please don’t be intimidated. I have been religious all my life and you would not believe the mistakes I make every day!!. We all do, if we’re honest. I respect you for the decision you have made. Not an easy one. People like myself take our religious upbringing for granted and you are working hard towards it. Your reward in the Holy Next World will surely be greater than many of us
The journey of discovery is beautiful. Enjoy it every day.November 27, 2008 1:44 am at 1:44 am #626354Bais Yaakov maydelParticipant
girl to girl: way to go, girl! i admire you tremendously for your efforts. i was born frum (religious) and unfortunately have had some rough turns before i finally came to realize the right path!! Thank G-d.
i would recommend Gila Manolsohn’s books on tzniyut/modesty and jewish relationships because she was in the same situation as you and makes things very clear in terms of dress for women. but start reading these books even before you start dressing differently, so you see the logical reasoning behind it, and it will be SO much easier for you!
good luck and a huge MAZAL TOVNovember 27, 2008 3:34 am at 3:34 am #626355asdfghjklParticipant
Welcome to the YWN family!!!
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