I am married to a non-Jew. I swing back and forth between "doing" the traditional things and then not doing anything at all. As a Jew, I have decided to focus on Judaism in my graduate program. However, this summer I would like to begin my studies on my own. I can read and write Hebrew pretty well. In your opinion, what is the best way to get started? Should I begin with the Talmud? I continue to come back to missing the traditions, and need to know how to begin and how to stay on course. Where do I start?
The Aish Rabbi Replies
In general, where should you start?
Believing in God is the primary commandment in Judaism.
Who is God?
God is the Creator of the world who gave the Torah and its commandments to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai. (see: http://www.aish.com/h/sh/se/48943936.html)
A good way to bring that concept into your life is through prayer. Open your heart to Him and He will surely help. As it says: "God is close to all who call sincerely" (Psalms 145:18).
The best way to learn about Judaism is to live near a Jewish community which has adult education programs, rabbis you can talk to one-on-one, Shabbat hospitality programs, etc.
If that is not an option, then try Torah education websites, such as Aish.com. You should get a basic Jewish library started in your home (http://www.aish.com/jl/sp/ns/48971206.html). While commuting or cooking, you can also listen to audio lectures from the thousands of titles available at www.aishaudio.com.
If you are interested in trying out one-on-one Jewish learning, I recommend signing up at J-Inspire. Any subject can be learned, by phone or in person, at a time that's good for you. This service is absolutely free.
Also, it is very important to attend a Discovery seminar. That frequently can make a big jump-start, by providing a framework and overview of the entire gamut of Jewish history, philosophy, and answering the questions, "Why Be Jewish," "Does God Exist," and "Is Torah True?" For more info, go to http://www.aish.com/dis/
Best of luck and let me know how it goes!