Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Sect. 18 TOC Q19.2 >

Question 19.1:
I want to become more observant. Where do I start?


Coming from a background of nothing, the best thing you can do first is to find someone who is already observant with whom you are comfortable and discuss the issues involved.

Join a directed study group designed for "Baalei Tshuva". It is impossible to be a practicing Jew (of any type) without the knowledge of what you are practicing. There are groups within many communities which are set up to do this. Examples include Chabad Lubavitch, Aish Hatorah seminars, and NCSY youth groups. Non-Orthodox Jews also do outreach, but in common parlance, baal teshuvah refers to someone who adopts Orthodox Judaism.

The best advice is often to go slowly, decide what you are going to do, and don't let difficulties with particular levels of observance cause you to drop the whole matter. Find a sympathetic rabbi who will help and advise you. Avoid the "All or Nothing" syndrome.

Most of all remember that you are not alone. If you scan the list of mailing lists in Section 20.3, you'll even discover there are numerous Baal Teshuva electronic mailing lists (there is at least one on Shamash).

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

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© (c) 1993-2004 Daniel P. Faigin <>