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u/aggie1391 · 10 pointsr/Judaism

Just to start off, its shabbos in much of the world so you won't get so many responses for a bit.


Lots and lots of people grew up with some Jewish identity, didn't do much, and later became religious. Seriously, its a whole movement. Of course everyone's situation is unique, but you aren't the first to struggle with this kinda thing. Thankfully, that has meant a ton of books and resources for people in your shoes, who want to learn more and do more but didn't grow up with it. Some of the biggest resources online are Aish and Chabad, I just found NJOP but it doesn't have as much on the site.


Now, as you know, the first step is to find a synagogue. I'd recommend looking for a Chabad or a young adults organization like a Young Jewish Professionals type of thing. They will have lots of classes for people from all sorts of backgrounds and will be super happy to help you find good resources, to teach you, etc. Chabad especially is everywhere, the joke is that only Coca-Cola and Chabad are worldwide. Next weekend is actually The Shabbos Project, which brings together people from all sorts of background to do a shabbos in a community. Actually one of these helped me really finalize my decision to become religious. And there are people here from all over who can recommend places.


So there are lots of basic books out there. One thing I would definitely recommend is to get a Chumash, I'd recommend the Stone Edition since its the most common but the Steinsaltz one also came out recently. A Chumash has the whole Torah and the Haftorot (the section from the Prophets read in synagogues every shabbos) with commentaries. Both the ones I linked have stuff from all sorts of commentators that help explain the text. One section of Torah is read every week on shabbos, so it makes for a great reading guide.


A good beginner book is To Be a Jew by Rabbi Hayim HeLevy Dovin. That one is absolutely classic. He also has another one, To Pray as a Jew, that's also excellent. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin also has a great one, Jewish Literacy, that goes through everything from Bible stories and characters to Jewish historical figures and writings. R' Teluskhin has tons of good stuff, I also have his A Code of Jewish Ethics, Jewish Wisdom, and a daily study book The Book of Jewish Values, they are all great learning resources. I'd also recommend Exploring Jewish Tradition, it really gets to the basics of Jewish practices. The 'Jewish Book of Why' set is also good, there are two volumes. There's no need to dive full on into halacha (Jewish law) and like books on Talmud right away, take the basics and then explore what is interesting to you. People sometimes burn out if they try too much too quick, but others love to just jump in full on and learn a bunch really quick (I'm the second but know people in the first category, both are totally ok ways to be).


If there is any specific thing you would like to read more about, I can recommend more stuff after shabbos. Its only been a year since I decided to become religious so I know the position you are in. And if you have any questions, there are lots of great resources online and lots of knowledgeable people here. Of course, as I'm sure your mother can attest, there are unhealthy Jewish communities. But I firmly believe for every bad one there are far more great ones. I'm pretty new to it but the couple places I have been are both very welcoming and I have made friends from most of the major areas. It does not have to be suffocating, and there's nothing wrong with learning and doing more at your own pace. If its ever too much, slow down and reassess before jumping in further. If you listen to what your neshama (soul) is saying it'll guide you right!

u/honmamichin · 6 pointsr/Judaism

As a person who converted through the Reform movement, I highly suggest that you take a holistic approach to your initial study of Judaism. Getting a better idea of where other movements are coming from will not only give you a better grounding in Judaism as a whole, but it will foster understanding between movements and also put you in a better position to decide which movement works best for you.

Personally, even though I converted Reform, I don't actually identify strongly as a Reform Jew, because it's a bit too free form for me (in particular, I became very frustrated when the response to any question I had about observance essentially boiled down to 'do whatever makes you feel good'). That said, like you, I don't identify completely with the theology or some of the practices of Orthodoxy (separation of men and women being one of them), so I wouldn't make a good Orthodox Jew even though I'm more observant than, oh, 90% of Reform Jews.

Take the advice of other people in this thread and try out several different synagogues and Jewish events in your area, if possible. And read a lot on Judaism from different perspectives. Even if you strongly identify with the Reform movement (which is totally fine--I am not knocking the movement, it just isn't 100% for me), it will still be helpful to understand other levels of observance.

Some books I suggest you check out:

  • Basic Judaism by Milton Steinberg -- This book gives a brief and easy-to-read overview of the basics of both traditional (Orthodox) and liberal Judaism. VERY good place to start your studies.
  • Choosing a Jewish Life by Anita Diamant is a good overview of the conversion process and some of the issues coverts face. Been a while since I read this, but it's definitely not from an Orthodox perspective--I think it strives to be more neutral as far as denomination goes.
  • I also highly recommend To Pray as a Jew by Hayim Halevy Donin. This is an introduction to the synagogue service and its prayers. Very informative book. It is written from an Orthodox perspective, and will be easier to follow once you are further along in your studies, I think, but it's a wonderful resource.

    Particularly because you mentioned that you are a feminist, I thought you might also be interested in:

  • How to run a Traditional Jewish Household by Blu Greenberg. This book is written from a Modern Orthodox perspective by a well-known Orthodox feminist. It gives a lot of background and information about Orthodox customs that aren't as well-known to more liberal Jews (like the concept of an eruv, for example). Though I don't identify as an Orthodox Jew myself, I found this book fascinating and it really helped me solidify my own practice and feelings about traditional Judaism.
  • Life on the Fringes: A Feminist Journey Toward Traditional Rabbinic Ordination by Haviva Ner-David is an account of Ner-David's journey to becoming one of the first women granted the equivalent of Orthodox semicha (ordination) in Israel. I found it very eye-opening. It is definitely possible to be a feminist and be traditional. I don't agree with everything she says/does, but this is another great book to give you a perspective on how and why Orthodox Jews do things the way they do.

    Welcome to the path of Jewish study. If you ever have any other specific questions about converting Reform or need support in your studies or your journey, please feel free to PM me any time.
u/avazah · 1 pointr/Judaism

Don't drive yourself too crazy about it. I went in full speed and spent many boring shabbos days by myself with nothing to do because I didn't live near a shul or other Jews. No reason to go in 100% at first, especially if you are a convert-to-be so there's no actual prohibition for you now. If you can go to a synagogue, do so! Don't stress about not knowing what is going on, just go and listen and absorb the atmosphere.

My recommendation is to focus on the spirit of Shabbat rather than the nitty-gritty, especially for the first time. Light your Shabbat candles at the right time, crack open a bottle of wine, have some bread, eat some dinner, and read read read. You are starting to observe Shabbat but aren't sure all of the details, so might I suggest a book about Shabbat observance? The Sabbath by Heschel is also a beautiful poetic book about Shabbat that may help you get into the spirit of it. To Be A Jew, To Pray as a Jew, and Becoming a Jew are all great beginner books, the last geared towards converts. They all explain various aspects and details of observance, including Shabbat observance. You say you've read all you can, but these books all include very detailed information on exactly the timeline of events.

Since I became observant with no synagogue nearby, I found my Shabbat mornings to be much more meaningful when I would go outside to pray (in whatever capacity I was able-- either in Hebrew or English or just from the heart). There is something lovely about the Californian sunshine in that regard, I guess! Shabbat days are really long and boring by yourself, and I'd have non-Jewish friends come visit me and we'd take walks or just hang out in the backyard. I wouldn't do anything I'm not allowed, and they would obviously do whatever. We just wouldn't pick our activities as anything electronic-based, money-based, etc.

I wouldn't worry too much about details like blessings unless you want to say them in English. I felt really awkward doing that at first, but maybe you won't. If you know something isn't allowed, try not to do it. If you know something isn't allowed but it's really a burden and taking away from the spirit of Shabbat this weekend (like you left your bedroom light on), deal with it, but acknowledge that when you are 100% shabbat observant you can't do that. No reason to be miserable your very first Shabbat, or maybe you'll get a bad impression :) It gets easier the more comfortable you are with it. Depending on how this week goes, next week, add one or two more observances.

To answer your question about specific dinners, well, my husband and I eat anything on Shabbat. We are not stringent to only eat meat or fish, so sometimes we eat dairy. To me, the food you have on Shabbat should be a delight, something you are excited to eat or something you don't eat often. We make very normal typical dinners, usually, and I never ever make cholent or most of the 'traditional' foods. This week (for just the 2 of us) I am making shredded chicken build-your-own tacos for dinner and a big pasta salad full of lots and lots of veggies and grilled chicken for lunch. When we have company, it would be more traditional a meat-starch-2 or 3 vegetable meal.

If you have any more specific questions, I'd be happy to answer as someone who has kind of been there and done that!

u/[deleted] · 7 pointsr/Judaism

Do you have access to the goat necessary for entering the covenant? A sheep can work but the goat would be best.

Seriously though, the fact you have family that is practicing already puts you at an advantage. I'd get into contact with them and visit them on holidays and ask them for advice. They can be really supportive in this.

In terms of basics, there are some solid books that are great for breaking down the topic.

Essential Judaism is a great book for basics. It explains historical, cultural, and common practices in a way which anyone can understand. It's a solid book for filling gaps.

I don't know if you live near a synagogue but if you have access to one I would suggest possibly speaking with the Rabbi there. A Rabbi can be a great resources if you ever need some direction or guidance. Family is great but the Rabbis can sometimes direct you to useful resources. (study programs and so on)

u/smokesteam · 2 pointsr/Judaism

I understand some of your situation pretty well. I came from a background of no religion at all and a negative feeling of what I thought organized religion was about before becoming a Jew. Also my wife came from a very traditional Buddhist background before becoming a Jew and she also shared concerns about this "getting in the way of a normal life".

The rabbi we first met with insisted that if I was interested in the conversion process that even before starting I had to bring her to meet with him because so much of being a Jew is family oriented so if I wanted to do this, his condition was that we both had to learn. He happens to be Conservative but of the old school variety, closer to what we would now call Modern Orthodox. The thing was that I was very fortunate that my wife was at least willing to learn with me for the sake of learning what this thing I was interested in was about. Even more fortunately she came to her own conclusion that this was for her as well. I cant say if this will be the same for you and your partner or not, but if you two communicate well then perhaps they may be willing as my wife was to see what is what just because it is important to you. As it turns out we ended up affiliating with the local Orthodox community as time went on but thats another story.

The books LazarA mentioned are all great. All I might add would be:

  • God, Jews & History by Max Dimont. This is not a religious text per se but gives a decent overview of our history as a people in context of where we have been. Being a Jew isnt just about religious practice, its about being part of a people with a complex history and that history has very much shaped our practice.

  • To Be a Jew by Hayim H. Donin was a decent overview as I recall. It covered about the events of the Jewish calendar and lifecycle among other topics.

    If you live in an area with several types of Jewish communities, I'd say meet with several rabbis if possible. Even you think now that you might look at Conservative Judaism, there's a range within that as well as within Orthodoxy and I assume but dont know for myself about the other flavors as well.

    Feel free to ask us here any and I do mean any questions you may have as well. I'm also available to answer questions by PM as I'm sure are several other of the regulars here in case you feel you dont want to ask in public. You may get conflicting answers but that is perfectly normal. We have a saying to the effect of if you ask two Jews you will get three opinions.
u/DingDongInDaPingPong · 6 pointsr/Judaism

So you're legally Jewish. Welcome to the tribe.

Shabbos is still on so you're going to get more answers in a short while. Don't feel weird, a few of us roam the chats on Shabbos.

>I am familiar with the Tanakh, since I read the Old Testament as a Christian.

So the Old Testament of the Christian bible is an entirely different beast from the Tanakh.

Some of the translations are corrupted in the Christian version and they are only using half of the actual document.

The Torah is comprised of two documents. The first half is the Written Torah which are the stories that most people are familiar with. The second half is the Oral Torah. This encompasses all of the Rabbinical commentaries and interpretations and guidelines which establish Jewish philosophy and practice.

The Christians are using half of a document so you actually have a lot of stuff you look into. You'll be fine though, it's reading and study and discussion with Jewish leaders. Nothing you can't handle. is a great online resource

It contains a vast amount of Jewish religious texts which you can access online. It's great if you can't get your hands on a physical book to study.

I'm going to suggest a shortlist of books and some online materials which I think will really help you out in establishing a foundation of Jewish knowledge. I used this myself when I got into Judaism in college. They are really helpful.

  1. Essential Judaism: Updated Edition: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs & Rituals - This is a great book for establishing basic knowledge of Jews ideas and concepts and creating a foundation to build off of.

  2. Living Judaism: The Complete Guide to Jewish Belief, Tradition, and Practice - This book is within the same theme as the first with a few different bits of information for study. Both are great options to read and build yourself up with. I own both, myself.

  3. Hidabroot TV (YouTube Channel) is a Jewish online video resource for studying Jewish concepts and philosophies. These are great if you have 10 or 15 minutes to kill and want to use it to study a Jewish idea. They have great topics from respected and knowledgable Rabbis and leaders.

    This is a great way to just "wet your feet in the Mikvah" so to speak. It's all easily digestible and accessible information which you can access on your own at your own schedule.

    I would do the basic research yourself and allow this to buildup and digest for a month or so before you finally decide to visit the synagogue. The Rabbis can help you in correctly executing Jewish practice and taking on more advanced levels of knowledge.

    You shouldn't do that until you feel comfortable though. There's no need to rush it unless you feel totally ready and prepared. They're cool people and they'll be extremely pleased to see someone took an interest in their history.

    Also remember something

    There are going to be a lot of people who try and drag you down their specific path of Judaism. Some of these will be Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, or something in-between.

    You're part of this regardless of your observance level. Observance is important but it doesn't dictate your Jewish status. Once you're born of a Jewish mother, you're 100% Jewish regardless. No one can argue otherwise.

    I don't want you to allow someone else to dictate your Jewish experience. There are a lot of different Jews and they all have their own ideas and philosophies about proper observance. Do not allow anyone to drag you down a path you are uncomfortable with.

    I run Orthodox/Conservadox, myself, but you may not be Orthodox. You define your Jewish experience. No one else gets to do that beyond sharing their opinion with you.

    Blessings and enjoy the ride. It's a cool thing to be a part of.
u/LazerA · 3 pointsr/Judaism

As other commenters have already pointed out, if your mother is a Jew than you are a Jew as well (and, as you are a woman, so will be your children), regardless of your religious affiliation.

If you wish to embrace Judaism, your first priority has to be to educate yourself as much as possible about Judaism. Unfortunately, this is not all that easy to do. The bulk of the popular material available - both in print and online - is unreliable, superficial, or not really geared towards genuine newcomers.

There are a few good books available for beginners. (Most of the popular books that will come up on Amazon or that you will find on the Judaica shelf at your local Barnes & Noble are not reliable.) One popular book that I know to be reliable is Gateway to Judaism: The What, How, and Why of Jewish Life by Rabbi Mordechai Becher. I would also recommend a few of the books by the later Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, specifically the two volumes of the Aryeh Kaplan Anthology and the Aryeh Kaplan Reader. The Anthology is a collection of short works written specifically for beginning students, and the Reader contains a number of similar pamphlet type essays written for such an audience.

However, the most important part of educating yourself about Judaism is to get a knowledgeable personal mentor. You might want to check out these two organizations:

Torah Mates:

Partners in Torah:

Both of these organizations provide a free mentoring service. They will match you up with a knowledgeable personal teacher who will study with you over the phone at your convenience (usually people study for about half an hour each week). They will also provide you with whatever book you chose to study with your partner.

I currently volunteer for Torah Mates and I used to volunteer for Partners in Torah as well (several years ago) and I can vouch for the quality work these organizations do. If you would like any specific assistance in this area, please feel free to PM me.

u/ummmbacon · 8 pointsr/Judaism

cRc standards? Star-K? There are a few, most of it is minor but you should know them and know what applies for you. Also, your community minhag may also dictate some of these things.

For example, some allow using the same dishwasher for meat/dairy since the water isn't yad soledes bo and there is an agent like lye (mentioned in S"A) in use.

>What basics do I need?

Depends on how often you eat various items, I very, very rarely eat meat so I have very few meat items for example.

But I have a large variety of parve items.

Overall you will want separate kli rishonim for meat/dairy/parve but not like 1:1:1, since you will cook different things in them. Also sponges and scrapers and serving utensils.

I would walk through a typical menu for you and see what works, like do you only have a dairy pot for vegetables or other sides and will that come to be a problem when you are making a meat meal?

Since I mainly eat parve I can duplicate a lot of my dairy since it isn't usually an issue. I have an instapot and I have 3 interior pots/liners/steam catchers for Shabbat meals.

You will also want knives for cutting that are parve/dairy/meat this is a fantastic meat knife and is really cheap and all the chef's I know recommend it. It's great for chopping/cutting.

You might also want to check out the books Kosher Kitchen which talks a lot about the details, but your community might be more lenient than that book in some places here and there.

But overall I'd go through and start with thinking about how you want to use your kitchen then apply the rules of kashrut and see if it is an issue.

Also, get some heat resistant color tape, so you can correctly label your items.

At some point, you might also look at if your stove/other items can be kashered for Pesach and if you need like a sperate burner just for Pesach (I have to do this since my place has a glass stove top)

u/ShamanSTK · 1 pointr/Judaism

Feel free to ask any questions and I'll answer those that I can, and Deuteronomy will answer the one's I can't. If you really want to get a really good grasp of Jewish ethics and thought, I would recommend Aryeh Kaplan's Handbook of Jewish Thought. For an intro into Jewish practice, I recommend Gateway to Judaism. Both are very accessible and are very good primers. The handbook in particular is a very good source for sources. It is very well cited and provides a very good jumping off point for deeper research.

u/Deuteronomy · 3 pointsr/Judaism

> Why are customs the way they are?

It would depend on which specific custom you had in mind. Many practices are quite a bit more than "custom" actually, and are required as a matter of Halakha. The two major classes of Halakha are biblical (d'oraisa) and rabbinic (d'rabanan).

> How come people who leave Judaism do not talk about it?

There are people who unfortunately leave Judaism and are rather vocal about it... however if I wanted to generalize about those who refrain and/or evade discussion of Judaism, I'd say most likely they were stigmatized in some way and that the same reasons they sought to abandon Judaism in the first place is the same reasons they seek to avoid discussing it in the present. It probably brings up memories and emotions that they find too painful to confront within themselves.

> I want to know the deeper meaning behind everything... Just anything and everything.

A proselyte once asked Rabbi Hillel (c.110 BCE) to teach him the entire Torah whilst standing on one foot... God-willing with patience and time you will come to understand quite a bit in greater depth :)

> Why do some families keep kosher and some do not.

With the advent of the Haskalah (the Jewish Enlightenment) in the 18th/19th c. many Jews for the first time had the doors of Western society open to their integration. Many Jews seeking acceptance simply abandoned Judaism altogether, others sought to reform Judaism in order to facilitate greater acceptance within modern society without given up everything (this is where the origins of most of the liberal denominations can be traced back to). Accordingly during this period many Jews stepped away from Judaism's traditional practices, including the dietary laws. This in addition to the eventual deep and profound trauma of the Holocaust which has contributed to the face of modern Jewry largely not reflect the practices of their ancestors.

> Wikipedia has not been helpful at all.

Unless you have a very specific topic in mind, wikipedia can indeed be too daunting a source to get any kind of real comprehensive view. A general introductions to Judaism can be found in Hayim Halevi Donin's book "To Be A Jew: A Guide To Jewish Observance In Contemporary Life." I've heard that it is very good and very accessible (an easy read). I see that you can find used copies on Amazon for as little as a penny! A work like this or something of a similar nature would probably be the best place for you to start. If you read something you don't understand there, or would like to understand in greater depth, feel free to let us know :)

u/ljak · 6 pointsr/Judaism

I don't think so. The first line is translated as

> in the summit “Elohiym [Powers]” fattened the sky and the land

The translation of בְּרֵאשִׁית as "in the summit" is a very uncommon conjecture made to strengthen the parallel between Genesis and the Babylonian Enuma Elish, which opens with "when on high". There are indeed parallels between the two texts, but the translation of that particular word is a non-literal interpretation. Literally, it means something like "at the head".

The translation of בָּרָא as "fattened" is something that I've never seen before. At best it's a fringe theory.

Skimming the rest of the lines, I can see many more of these unusual translations which were likely made to fit into some sort of specific non-standard interpretation. For example, the simple word "טוֹב" (good) is translated as "functional".

I recommend the Jewish Study Bible, which is often used in university courses. It uses the latest JPS translation, which is decent, but more importantly it includes ample commentary by unbiased experts.

u/YordeiHaYam · 2 pointsr/Judaism

What stream of Judaism interests you? Or do you not know? Either way, a good starting point is Rabbi Joseph Telushkin's book Jewish Literacy.

Assuming you're interested in Orthodoxy, you will need to know (at least) about day-to-day ritual activities such as prayer and blessings, the basics of keeping the Sabbath, and the various festivals and how they are observed. You will need to show commitment to Judaism and to developing ties with the Jewish community.

You will also frequently be asked why you want to be Jewish, so that's another thing to "know" (although you need your own answer for this). Some (very) basic conception of Jewish dogma is generally required, but it is important to note that we're an action-packed religion to a large extent.

You will also need to make a commitment to Torah study; especially if you are a male.

This can take as little as a year or it may take several years, depending on your pace and the rabbi and conversion court (בית דין) that you go through.

For further questions and support along the way, you may be interested in /r/Giyur .

u/attitudegratitude · 0 pointsr/Judaism

> I've only been a handful of times but if I could go ever Shabbat I would!

That’s an awesome attitude. You absolutely should contact him then , I can’t imagine the Rabbi would say no.

Thank G-d for Artscroll! There is a book you might be interested in which explains what’s going on during a service. I read it early on in BTing and it certainly made me more comfortable in the synagogue.

u/olhnunafef · 1 pointr/Judaism

I love the Jewish Study Bible too! To my knowledge, the only similar translation- and really the only modern translation whatsoever- of the Talmud is Artscroll. This is the go-to translation for Talmud scholars in yeshivas everywhere. Luckily it's a very good translation, crowdsourced from many Talmudic scholars all across the world.

I did manage to find a free translation online which uses the standardized page format.

Regarding Artscroll: only Orthodox scholars were involved, and no secular scholarship whatsoever. It's a thoroughly Orthodox translation instead of a "consensus". They're also a bit pricy for the full set.

But luckily you don't need the full set, because it's going to take you your whole life to read it!

Traditionally, the Talmud is not learned in order (probably because the beginning is extremely dull imo). A good starting point is Bava Kama "The First Gate", the beginning of which deals with the different types of animal damages. It's one of my favorite pieces of gemara, honestly. (It's also the page I linked to for the online translation.)

Last thing: you don't want to just read the Talmud, it's not that kind of book. Rabbi Dov Linzer gives a daily class on a single page, and he's been doing it for years. Read the page first, then listen to the class and follow along, then go back and read the page again.


  1. free translation
  2. Artscroll Bava Kama
  3. Rabbi Dov Linzer

    EDIT: Forgot to mention, arrays start at 2. Page 2 is the first page of every book, because reasons. So that is the first video of the series :)
u/tropicalpuffin · 1 pointr/Judaism

Congratulations on observing kashrut!

Rice and veggies, wraps, so many options! I recommend looking through food blogs to get ideas, and then if the recipe needs it- make it kosher!

One great kosher food blog I love is Kosher in the Kitch

also, if you need any more information on the laws of Kashrut, or a good guide (as it can be confusing at times), here are two:
How to Keep Kosher

The Kosher Kitchen

u/cmunk13 · 5 pointsr/Judaism

The first Hebrew primer is the bulk of our class. We have been using third edition because it also has flash cards, an answer key, and a boatload of other add ons I highly recommend.

Teach yourself to read hebrew is super helpful for pronunciation and it comes with an audio book you can purchase on Audible. I highly recommend the audio book.

A lot of people in my class use this cheat sheet. I personally don't like it, but if you like cheat sheets it's super helpful.

Lastly Quizlet is full of free flash card sets of Hebrew words, it's my go to for practicing words besides the word flash cards First Hebrew Primer has.

u/Ajfried22 · 6 pointsr/Judaism

>How is that possible?

Israeli beer. Kashrus info etc.

>go to synagogue coz you haven't been there for year" or what?

I'll tell you that.

>What to do?

Go to shul. Daven, do mitzvos, learn torah. Drink a peach snapple. I love Peach.

>Is it possible for Hashem to give us signs in modern times? Or only Prophets were able to see them? Like Salomon for example.

It all happened so you could post this on reddit, and become closer to Hashem.

Recommended Reading:

To Be A Jew: A Guide To Jewish Observance In Contemporary Life

On Judaism: Conversations on Being Jewish

Judaism for the Rite Reasons

Becoming a Jew

This Is My God

There are two amazing resources available to help you.

TorahMates and Partners in Torah.

Do not hesitate to make use of them.

And stick around this awesome sub!

u/Theinternetisassur · 3 pointsr/Judaism

>I'm half-Jewish

No such thing. Either Jewish or not.

> my mother being secular but ethnically Jewish.

Jewishness is passed strictly along the maternal line. Was her mother Jewish also? If so you are 100% Jewish.

> I'm eager to find more of a connection with Judaism and Jewish history

Recommended Reading:

To Be A Jew: A Guide To Jewish Observance In Contemporary Life

On Judaism: Conversations on Being Jewish

Judaism for the Rite Reasons

Becoming a Jew

This Is My God
>Would people raised with more of a connection to the community and the faith find it unusual or inappropriate that someone like me might take interest or identify with the Jewish community?

Nope, happens all the time.

Check out Torah Mates, and Partners in Torah.

u/Ninjew333 · 2 pointsr/Judaism

No problem, if you want some starter books here are some that I enjoyed reading.

Tefillin by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan

Judaism and Christianity: A contrast by Rabbi Stuart Federow

Kashrut, Tefillin, Tzitzit by Stephen Bailey

Basic Judaism by Rabbi Milton Steinberg

These are some pretty good books to read giving you a little bit of an insight to some basic Jewish practices. is a good website for info and you can ask the Rabbi a question too. is similar to Aish and you can, again, ask the Rabbi a question.

You should still go to a Rabbi and talk to him about your reasons for your desire to convert as well as the process.

u/TheGuyWithTheBalloon · 5 pointsr/Judaism

How beginner are we talking, and how hard do you want to jump in?

Artscroll's The Kosher Kitchen is a great overview and breakdown of the complex halachos involved. Here is the CRC's guide for kashering a kitchen. You can also get in touch with you local Chabad, and they'll usually be happy to come out and kasher everything for you.

If you're tight for space, it might be best to pick a gender to preference. I'm lactose intolerant, so when I was short on space, I only had a few dairy utensils and everything else was meat. Once everything is kashered, it's much easier.

u/SabaziosZagreus · 3 pointsr/Judaism

The CJB (Complete Jewish Bible) is a Christian Bible. The Old Testament in the CJB is an altered version of the 1917 JPS (Jewish Publication Society) translation. The 1917 JPS translation was a revised version of the American Revised Version (which was in turn a revision of the English Revised Version which was a revision of the King James Version). The 1917 JPS translation was an attempt to align the American Revised Version with a Jewish understanding of the Scriptures. The 1917 JPS translation is no longer used because (1) it was still originally a Christian translation and came with such baggage and biases, and (2) a lot of advancements in translation and biblical research has been made since 1917. So the CJB has all of the flaws of the original 1917 JPS translation, and it then further is altered to make it appear more "Jewish" (such as using Hebrew names and some Yiddish) and also to better conform to a Protestant Christian message. These alterations are done to make Christianity more attractive to or to better "sell" Christianity to Jewish individuals.

Rather than using the CJB, it would be better to read a translation that Jews actually use and conforms to Jewish understandings. The Jewish Publication Society released a brand new translation (not a revision) in the '80s; the New Jewish Publication Society Tanakh or also known as the New JPS Tanakh or the NJPS. The NJPS is the default translation in non-Orthodox and some Orthodox communities. You can access the NJPS for free here or here. You can purchase it here. The Chabad movement (an Orthodox movement) also has a translation hosted on their website which you can find here.

u/n_ullman176 · 3 pointsr/Judaism

The Artscroll Chumash (first 5 books of the Tanakh, a.k.a. the written Torah) /u/PM_ME_YOUR_TZITZIS mentioned is the gold standard of the Orthodox world. If you want a translation, and more importantly, a commentary with a traditional perspective get Artscroll.

On the other hand if you're looking for a more liberal / academic view check out Richard Elliot Friedman's Chumash. There might be better liberal / academic chumashim out there though, I'm really not sure.. maybe wait and see what others recommend in the way of liberal commentaries if that's what you're looking for.

Just want to emphasize that to understand Judaism you'll be infinitely better off with a Chumash (first 5 books with a commentary) than a Tanakh (first 5 + 19 additional books for a total of 24) without commentary.

u/Boredeidanmark · 1 pointr/Judaism

I thought that orthodox accept conservative conversions, but not reform. I'm familiar with the conversion process. Two book that I would recommend, which might be helpful in your journey, are To Life! and To Be A Jew. Hope this helps!

u/gruntel28 · 2 pointsr/Judaism

see Gateway to Judaism by Rabbi Mordechai Becher. specifically made for people like you a good foundation book is also "Duties of the Heart" by Rabeinu Bachya. there's an online translation for free.

u/juden-shikker · 4 pointsr/Judaism

>However, several people have told me that I would never "truly" be accepted as a jew due to my not having been raised in the culture.

This is not true.

> Also where are good places to get further information on conversion

The side bar FAQ

This reading list is pretty good but overwhelming

>but would like more practical info

To be a Jew is a good place to start and you can get a copy for four dollars after shipping from Amazon (not to mention it's probably in your local library)

u/Elementarrrry · 17 pointsr/Judaism

It helps to have more specific questions, but of course, having specific questions usually requires some basic level of knowledge. is pretty good. we have some decentish resources in our wiki. there's a judaism stackexchange, but like stackexchange as a whole it tends a bit towards elitist, high-level, and unfriendly to beginners.

The standard book recommendations when this situation comes up is To Be a Jew and Jewish Literacy.

Also possibly relevant, depending on your tastes, This is My God by Herman Wouk. Was reminded of this book by this Ask the Rabbi, which also recommends Partners in Torah -- possibly relevant, depending on your level of investment in learning more (sets you up with a weekly study partner)


did a quick google, this looks relevant:

So does the book Suddenly Jewish, which I found via this article

oh and there's this post from a day ago: judaism for beginners


also, for your perusal, the search results for "found out jewish" on this sub

u/fx-86BR · 4 pointsr/Judaism

Hi there, one of the books I had to read before enrolling in the conversion process was one called "Becoming a Jew" from a rabbi called Maurice Lamm. It's available on Amazon:

Other than that there are many videos on YouTube that may clarify some of the points in your journey. The Rabbi John Carrier who happens to have a YouTube channel is a great resource of knowledge plus he has live streams during the week where one can ask him questions and look for guidance. Best wishes!

u/Casual_Observer0 · 1 pointr/Judaism

Having a Chumash is a good start. Artscroll's good for that. You won't be disappointed. That's what's read weekly with enough commentary to whet your palate.

Edit, getting an inexpensive basic Hebrew English Tanakh would be good to have to look up the rest of the Bible. Like

u/SF2K01 · 2 pointsr/Judaism

Oof, well I recommend a lot of reading, maybe starting with something like This is My God and checking out our suggested books list. I'd be more than happy to answer any questions you might have, publicly or by PM (full disclosure, I have a rabbinical degree).

u/not-throwaway · 6 pointsr/Judaism

Personally I'd just recommend picking up a copy of Jewish Literacy. It's very large but very readable. Covers many different areas. Great place to start. You might be able to find it in a library as well depending on your location.

u/IbnEzra613 · 6 pointsr/Judaism

I recommend the ArtScroll Stone Chumash. It's just the Five Books of Moses, but they are the most important ones. It has a really good English commentary anthologized from traditional sources.

u/RtimesThree · 1 pointr/Judaism

When I read this the most obvious thing was that it was just a Chumash, an Artscroll one or something. Clearly his mom didn't buy him a legitimate Torah scroll. This sounds like exactly the kind of thing a relative would gift to someone getting into Judaism.

u/Grapefruit__Juice · 2 pointsr/Judaism

To Pray as a Jew, by Hayim Donin. Concentrates on synagogue prayer/ritual, but very rich with information. I continually return to it.

u/TheChaiLife · 3 pointsr/Judaism

Might I recommend

It's an encyclopedia with short blurbs on the Jewish religion, people, and history. Reading through it will give you a great breadth of knowledge related to Judaism.

u/Zel606 · 2 pointsr/Judaism

'To pray as a Jew' teaches one how to pray, same author as 'to be a Jew,' which I also highly recommend for anyone toying with (or intent upon) becoming Jewish.

It's also required reading for many Beit dins.

u/bbenja4 · 4 pointsr/Judaism

The Jewish Publication Society version is very good English translation. The foot notes are very helpful. They also have a bilingUAL edition.

u/indecisive42 · 2 pointsr/Judaism

There are other takes on Jewish meditation as well, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan has some great starter books explaining the concept. Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide & Meditation and Kabbalah

u/HarimadSol · 1 pointr/Judaism

If you want to talk about Jesus as a Jew (which I agree with you about), I wonder if this would be helpful?

u/PotassiumArsenic · 2 pointsr/Judaism

I think converts should read works from all across the Jewish perspective. Especially the "very different sort."

How else is anyone supposed to know what they believe if they don't know or understand what they don't? It's not an informed decision if you're not informed.

On that note...

Exploring Judaism: A Reconstructionist Persepctive.

Choosing a Jewish Life (liberal, leaning Reform)

To Pray as a Jew (Orthodox)

OP: Go wild. Read across the spectrum. Read things you agree with and things you don't. Read stuff you don't understand yet. Ask questions about what you read. Read, read, read!

u/gikatilla · 1 pointr/Judaism

The New Jewish Publication Society (NJPS) translation is probably the best, although it too has some flaws. You can find it here


If you're looking for a book that's meant to introduce someone to the Hebrew Bible (and not a translation per se), then check out Rabbi Telushkin's Biblical Literacy

u/ajmarks · 1 pointr/Judaism

^ This so much. Also, another great introductory book is Joseph Telushkin's Jewish Literacy.

u/g3n3ricz3r0 · 3 pointsr/Judaism

One of the most comprehensive and well written books is "Jewish Literacy" by Joseph Telushkin.

u/gingeryid · 2 pointsr/Judaism

Then don't get the Koren one people are linking, as it's Hebrew-only.

Here is the Koren Hebrew-English. I would recommend against this fairly strongly, because the translation is bizarre.

The JPS Hebrew-English Pocket Size might be an option, but the font is small (which will always be the case for a Hebrew-English Tanakh under 8") and the softcover easily gets dog-eared. The larger size is much bigger than what you'd be looking for.

Artscroll also has options, one size at 8.5", another at 6".

u/benadreti · 1 pointr/Judaism

Jewish Meditation by Aryeh Kaplan. It's not such high level and written for beginners but it is definitely insightful.

u/chutzpantsu · 1 pointr/Judaism

Jewish Literacy by Joseph Telushkin covers pretty much all the basic stuff you should know regarding Jewish traditions and their roots

u/puck342 · 3 pointsr/Judaism

If you want another book to better learn about the Jewish people and our history, read Joseph Telushkin's Jewish Literacy

u/namer98 · 5 pointsr/Judaism

For a scholarly translation: The JPS Study Bible

For a more "traditional" translation, The Artscroll Tanach

However, I need to note that you won't learn about Judaism or Jewish practice from reading the Tanach. I hear Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Telushkin is a very good starting place.

u/Yserbius · 3 pointsr/Judaism

Ehhhh.... (waggles hand back and forth).

Open Orthodoxy is an organized denomination with an official head board and all that. The vast majority of frum organizations do not recognize them as being frum. Their conversions are not accepted, their shechita is not accepted, and their psak halachas are ignored.

Books worth of material (literally) have been written about the subject. Pretty much the only people who consider them comparable to MO are the OO heads themselves and people who don't know any better. I mean, a recent spat of controversy arouse when an OO Rabbi defended intermarriage a position that, by it's very definition, is against Orthodox Judaism. And it's hardly the most controversial thing to come out of OO.

u/MOE37x3 · 3 pointsr/Judaism

If you're interested in this issue, but can't stomach the idea that God would command you to do something for reasons that you can't comprehend, I recommend that you study some of the other approaches listed (but heretofore ignored by you) in this thread. Read To Be a Jew, Horeb, or R' Hirsch's commentary on Leviticus.

If you can't stomach the idea that God could come up with something that you can't comprehend, then I think your quarrel with Judaism is much larger than just the purpose of dietary laws.

u/blambi · 3 pointsr/Judaism

To be a Jew and maybe are good starting points besides as SF2K01 said.

Then again there are many different kinds of minhogim etc.

u/David_The_Redditor · 2 pointsr/Judaism

This is the Tanakh I have. I would say it fits the bill for being a good travel size.

u/DefNotTuukkaRask · 5 pointsr/Judaism

Jewish Meditation sounds like what you're looking for!

u/leo_poldy · 5 pointsr/Judaism

I like Essential Judaism personally.

This is from a Reform/maybe Conservative viewpoint.

Also, to echo /u/sabata00, you should be talking to Rabbis and going to services. Catholic to Judaism is a paradigm shift (I was born and raised Catholic). PM me if you have any questions!

u/tzy7630 · 1 pointr/Judaism

I highly recommend the book Camping on Shabbat by Rabbi Ben Tanny. Covers basically every topic you need to know about camping over Shabbos.

u/barkappara · 3 pointsr/Judaism

I'd recommend the Jewish Study Bible. If you get something like an Artscroll Tanakh, a lot of the translations are influenced by rabbinic traditions, which probably isn't what you're looking for.

Also if you find something labeled "Jewish Bible", it might be a Messianic translation, and those are completely 100% bogus and should be avoided.

u/Limonene · 1 pointr/Judaism

It's The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon, and we're discussing it on February 21st.

I really enjoyed the book and finished it earlier today. It's not something I would have chosen for myself but I couldn't put it down. Can't wait to discuss it!

u/grego23 · 5 pointsr/Judaism

You would probably like Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. I personally found it even more thorough than Essential Judaism.

u/LordMoe · 1 pointr/Judaism

Seems like many have been recommending this

The Chumash: The Stone Edition, Full Size (ArtScroll) (English and Hebrew Edition) The Torah: Haftaros and Five Megillos with a Commentary Anthologized from the Rabbinic Writings

u/4cubits · 2 pointsr/Judaism

I would recommend Gateway to Judaism by Mordechai Becher.

u/gershonp · 2 pointsr/Judaism

For a very thorough (and Orthodox) perspective on everything to do with prayer try Donin, To Pray as a Jew. It helped me out back in the day and I think it will answer your questions.

u/lyagusha · 1 pointr/Judaism

Just did it two weeks ago, over Shabbat+Shavuot. The Traveling Rabbi published a short book you can get on Amazon with a lot of useful tips.

A racoon broke in to the tent and ate my Eruv Tavshilin bread, so you might want to be careful with that.

Edit: Light source - in my case it was a solar panel with string of LEDs that turns on automatically at sunset, available here.

u/JoeFarmer · 1 pointr/Judaism

Thank you! Im looking for the nJPS and I am a little confused. Is nJPS a different publisher than JPS, or is it just JPS's new translation? Is this the one you're referencing?

u/MegillahThriller · 1 pointr/Judaism

My Rabbi recommended me this version of the Torah if you want written explanations.

u/HeWillLaugh · 6 pointsr/Judaism

> Open orthodoxy doesn't fall under the incredibly wide tent of orthodoxy for some unknown reason.
> And yes, the reason is unknown.

See here:


Just about every other article here:


Its really not hard to find the reasons. I have no idea why you say the reasons are unknown.

u/wordboyhere · 1 pointr/Judaism

The Jewish Study Bible if you want a more scholarly analysis.

u/bachrach44 · 2 pointsr/Judaism

You mean like the Jewish Study Bible?

Note that the reason there is only one of these (and I don't even know if this is what you're looking for), is probably because Jews and Christians take different approaches to learning the bible. I've found (and this is purely personal observation, not a scientific study) that Christians read much more finely taking single passages and sentences and analyzing them in their own right. Jews take a step back and usually consider each passage in it's larger context. Jews also tend to try to look at things through the prism of our sages first to see how things were interpreted by our ancestors, while Christians ask "what does this mean to me, today" and ignore older interpretations.

u/fotcfan1 · 1 pointr/Judaism

To be a Jew by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin:

To Be A Jew: A Guide To Jewish Observance In Contemporary Life