Newly observant Jews often have a hard time explaining their new lives to less observant family members. They want to belong and to participate in family events while adhering to the halachah that they now embrace. The difference in lifestyles can be a source of conflict. Azriela Jaffe, a ba’alat teshuvah, the term for a newly observant Jewish woman, has written a guide that will help bridge the gap. She provides advice about working out kashrut issues, keeping Shabbat while visiting relatives who do not, and explaining the laws of modesty, family purity, and Orthodox dating practices. She also provides guidelines for participating in lifecycle events of less observant families, noting that it is sometimes easier for all concerned if the observant members skip them. This is a very useful book that will help families maintain shalom bayit through mutual respect.
Barbara M. Bibel is a librarian at the Oakland Public Library in Oakland, CA; and at Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA.